India is a cauldron of various cultures. With such vibrancy and a vastly spread out population, the landscape is also characterised by consumer behaviour that changes every few hundred miles. From the perspective of a marketer, this poses a challenge for achieving consistent success across a widespread geography.

This is also a challenge for India’s leading personal care company, Emami Limited. Its popular product, Navratna Extra Thanda Oil, an Ayurvedic cool oil variant, was pitched against a strong regional competing brand, Himgange, in the rural belt of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Emami approached us about building awareness and driving preference for their brand through an effective engagement activity with the target consumers in this rural area, especially farmers.

The competition enjoyed a higher market share, so to counter that we had to devise an out-of-the-box marketing strategy to provide deeper penetration within the rural target groups and establish the Navratna product as their first choice.

Amar Ujala handed out thousands of Navratna Extra Thanda Oil samples during the contest period.
Amar Ujala handed out thousands of Navratna Extra Thanda Oil samples during the contest period.

Amar Ujala has strong rural reach and we devised an innovative campaign called Navratna Pradhan 2018 which involved focusing on the village heads, called Gram Pradhans, as the target audience and leveraging their influence.

In most cases, the Gram Pradhan is the head of the village level self-governance system and the final decision-making authority on various issues related to the village and its people. In a personal capacity, he is like a local hero who holds a high level of influence on the lifestyle and buying behaviour of the entire village population.

Thus, we created a contest to recognise and reward the Gram Pradhans for their contributions in the development of their villages, while simultaneously integrating the brand message and driving preference for the brand Navratna.

The contest was run through advertisements that called for entries, and Gram Pradhans were encouraged to submit their stories and achievements. Extensive on-ground activities were carried out through branded vans. Amar Ujala’s network in the field was used to collect stories, encourage participation among Gram Pradhans, and distribute product samples.

The campaign received overwhelming response both in terms of Gram Pradhan participation as well as brand engagement. A total of 9,319 Gram Pradhans registered, while 3,215 Gram Pradhans sent in their direct contest entries. The brand communicated and engaged with approximately 540,000 individuals and distributed more than 70,000 product sachets.

The success can be attributed to the way we targeted influencers at the grassroots level. The campaign was highly engaging, built around local relevant content with strong brand integration, and included instant gratification.

From the received entries, Amar Ujala’s editorial team shortlisted 15 Gram Pradhans who had brought change to their villages and their stories were featured in the newspaper. Out of the final entries received, nine winners were selected and rewarded with a certificate and prize money of INR 51000 each.