Following a major dengue outbreak in West Bengal in 2017, the state has continued experiencing an annual recurrence of this debilitating mosquito-borne illness. Each year, an estimated 390 million people are infected, and the World Health Organization reports that about half of the world’s population is at risk. During the first eight months of 2019, about 300 cases were reported in Kolkata alone.
As the most widely read Bengali daily in India, Anandabazar is a respected and trusted media institution. In 2017, knowing it was in a unique position to educate readers, the newspaper ran its own campaign to spread awareness about this deadly disease. Using a combination of articles, infographics, expert write-ups, and offering tips and tricks, the newspaper worked to cover every possible aspect of the endemic.
As the outbreak continued, Anandabazar partnered with the mosquito and pest control company Godrej HIT to launch a platelet donation drive called Track the Bite. The following year, they again worked with Godrej HIT on simple banner campaigns.
The online news portal, anandabazar.com, closely followed the endemic, but when Kolkata hospitals began reporting a sudden, significant rise in cases in 2019, Anandabazar decided it was time to launch a campaign. The news media company wanted to educate its audience about dengue and provide extensive information on the prevention, detection, and treatment of the disease. To deploy such a massive campaign, the company turned to the most logical sponsor it knew of: Godrej HIT.
Building awareness without overselling
Since Godrej’s Black HIT spray was effective at killing mosquitoes, the company made the perfect partner for building a campaign of awareness, prevention, and treatment. But Anandabazar also was sensitive to the skepticism that can accompany content sponsored by a brand with economic interests in the outcome. This helped Anandabazar clearly define goals and objectives for the campaign that allowed it to be informative and factual while also keeping their brand partner’s interests in mind.
The campaign, called Sushthotar Jonyo (For the wellness for all), sought to educate customers in an original and innovative way. Stylistically, the Godrej messaging and visuals were carefully designed to integrate with Anandabazar’s content and images.
Just as with its traditional news reporting, Anandabazar was careful to create content that was authentic, meaningful, and helpful to readers. A dedicated microsite for Godrej was created to host a range of articles that included doctors’ advice, preventative measures, awareness, myth-busting, remedies, and public utility information.
In addition to that content, they created video testimonials featuring real people who had survived the disease. These compelling, first-person stories ran as Godrej ad spots on the Anandabazar homepage and were created to look like other Anandabazar videos. The videos were particularly effective, as they allowed real people to tell how they had been affected by dengue and helping viewers learn how they could deal with similar situations in their own lives.
Reaching beyond the robust microsite, the campaign also was active on social media, with attention paid to ensuring the posts looked like regular Anandabazar posts.
The results of this branded content campaign exceeded expectations. The innovation in different types of content was effective in engaging audiences, and it registered a CTR that was 2.83 times higher than its benchmark goal. Godrej HIT was extremely pleased with the results, as the campaign was high impact, cost effective, and well received.
A condensed version of this case study appears in INMA’s September 2020 report Why Branded Content Fits This Advertising Moment, free to INMA members.