Mask India
2021 Finalist

Mask India

The Times of India

New Delhi, India

Category Public Relations and Community Service

Overview of this campaign

As COVID-19 spread through the nation, 1.3 Billion wasn’t just a number anymore.

A large section of this population (> 60%) lives in cramped settlements, intimately sharing resources – like water, toilets – completely vulnerable to contagion if even one of them was to catch the virus. Further, rampant misinformation and ignorance among people made matters worse, so that even those who could afford to socially distance, weren’t doing so properly. As India threatened to enter the dreaded Stage 3: Community Spread, Indians desperately needed a way to protect themselves, a way to unite and fight back.

Masks, the only way to avoid contagion at such close quarters, were in acute shortage. Numerous advisories directed people to keep medical masks for healthcare and frontline workers – who needed it most critically; at the same time, taking away the common man’s only form of defence.

The Times of India(TOI) decided to turn this into the rallying force for the people of India – creating a movement for the people of India to gather their forces around, empowering every Indian to protect themselves and their fellow Indians. Thus began #MaskIndia, a movement – rousing the people of India to make their own masks, to protect themselves and their fellow countrymen, using – Kerchiefs, Dupattas (long scarf), Gamchhas (towel) to cover their faces, as they have always done – against the heat/dust/pollution etc. This time, using these to fight back against the virus, as one nation!

The initiative launched with an ad that told Indians to convert every humble tightly woven cloth available at home into their armour – their very own face mask. The illustrative ad showed people across ethnicities, genders, beliefs – establishing the importance for everyone to make and wear their own masks.

The full might of the mammoth Times Media Network was unleashed to get the message across to every person in every corner of the country – Editorials, TV, Digital, Radio all swung into full gear teaching people to make, wear, sanitize and dispose their homemade masks.

Results for this campaign

The first bugle sounded, all Times media entities swung to front-foot.

Editorials played critical role of disseminating information on how to make, wear, sanitize and dispose homemade masks – lending credibility to the cause.

Across major cities, RJs shared videos on how to make masks, urging fans to make their own. Powerful Celebrity associations of the Times-Metro-Supplements were leveraged.

All Times Media Network TV News channels drove Indians to make their own masks, key media figures lent their voice to the cause. 


The day after the launch, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, lent his support to the movement, tweeting, "Always better to take that extra precaution. Will help you and those around you. I commend the @timesofindia group for this very innovative movement. #IndiaFightsCorona," the PM tweeted.

With that, the floodgates opened!

In all subsequent media appearances, the PM took to wearing a white Gamchha (the humble Indian towel) over his face, inspiring other political-figures to follow suit – including Delhi CM - Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Union Minister Smriti Irani and numerous others.

The Prime Minister instructed BJP rank and file to distribute masks to at least 5-7 people and even wear them at home, if possible. 

Chief Ministers of Five key Indian states ruled to make masks mandatory for all, including the national capital Delhi, Maharashtra and the populous states of UP and Odisha. A ruling that affected an estimated total of 300 million+ people.

Photographs and videos started pouring in with people making their own unique face masks – with every material conceivable. This allowed #MaskIndia to create the first ever digital film – made entirely of real Indians, wearing real homemade masks. The campaign website garnered close to 2 million page views.

Popular sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik erected his support of the initiative on the sands of the beach in Puri, driving Indians to “Join the #MaskIndia movement.”


That is how, TOI launched the largest people’s movement – empowering people to create protection for themselves and fellow Indians, at home.


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