Can Chamki Do What Gondappa Did For Lifebuoy’s #HelpAChildReach5

Lifebuoy's 'Help a child reach 5' has rolled out a real life experiment with to-be mother Sangrahi, where her imagined daughter Chamki convinces her of the importance of handwashing

Hindustan Unilever’s 2013 award-winning campaign for Lifebuoy ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ is out with the next in the series. An active proponent of handwashing with soap, Lifebuoy had kickstarted a worldwide movement to instil hygienic handwashing behaviour in schools and villages. The idea stemmed from a sad statistic that each year infectious diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia claim the lives of 6 million children under the age of 5.

‘Helping a child reach 5’ meant promoting the importance of hygienic handwashing through various programs, one of which involved social media. A heartfelt digital film about Gondappa and his son Muthu was created for the campaign, while Facebook and Twitter was abuzz with pledges and the hashtag #helpachildreach5.

This time the awareness campaign involves a real-life experiment featuring to-be mother, Sangrahi. The campaign conceptualised by Lowe Lintas, begins with hard-hitting stats - 6 million children die before they reach the age of 5. 44% of these deaths occur in the first 28 days of birth.

Sangrahi’s husband and Sangrahi herself talk about their fears. In her village alone many children die before they are five. She shares a story of her friend whose child passed away within weeks of being born. She does hope to have a baby girl and plans on naming her ‘Chamki’. She even imagines tying two pigtails and sending Chamki to school.

Next a female health official shares how these villagers will still visit a temple, go on fast and evade the evil eye for better health of their children, but not change their habits. We see Sangrahi kneading dough right after she has washed her hands with dirty water and wiped them on her saree.

Then comes the idea of the experiment. When all the villagers get together to watch television at the only house that has one, a video starts playing in between. A little girl in the video introduces herself as Chamki, Sangrahi’s imagined daughter who is all of seven years old now. Showing her two pigtails, Chamki takes everyone into the future where she has been gifted a doll by an aunt, a purple frock and so on. She goes on to thank her mother for singing her a lullaby every night in the womb, for the tasty food, for putting her in school, and for making her laugh whenever she felt down.

But then Chamki begins to thank her mother for washing her hands with soap even though everybody laughed at her. Chamki reasons that her mother’s handwashing habits prevented Chamki from getting any infection in the first 28 days. The point is driven home. A tearful Sangrahi then promises to do everything the future Chamki thanked her for.

Can Chamki shine like Gondappa?

The 3.5-minute film has garnered over 2.4 million views in two days of being uploaded. That’s already a record high compared to the earlier Gondappa film.

The Gondappa story was launched exclusively for Facebook fans, the video quickly spread onto other social networks based on its sheer power of storytelling. The 3-minute film raked in 1.5 million views in the first three weeks of being launched. It even found itself in second place at 16 million views in the list of ’10 most viewed ads on YouTube in 2013’. The film has crossed over 19 million views till date.

Lifebuoy has been pushing the new ad too via YouTube embeds and Twitter trending. People have been urged to share the film with mothers to be, and spread handwashing habits.

The story of Gondappa has stayed on with us all these years, and has well served its purpose. It is still the most unforgettable campaign when it comes to recalling social cause marketing campaigns that went viral on the social web. However, Gondappa’s story was a fictional account depicting a village father. Sangrahi’s story is real and in your face. The problem is addressed right at the point at which it is needed, handwashing education coming from the womb.

The seven-year-old Chamki is the future child this village mother wishes for while the brand acts as an enabler of her wish, in a village that sees most children die before they reach 5. Impressive concept and experiment by Lifebuoy!

It remains to be seen whether Chamki can bring the awards for Lifebuoy.