Cannes Lions

Close Open Defecation


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Demo Film
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250 million people in rural India still defecate in the open. This has led to countless women committing suicide due to rape, sexual harassment and loss of dignity. Further, every 40th second a child dies of diarrhoea because of the unhygienic conditions in which they defecate.


To spread awareness and create conversations around open defecation on World Toilet Day.


Shed light on the plight of millions in rural India who do not have the basic sanitation facilities and are forced to defecate in the open.



Rural India uses railway tracks and open areas to defecate.The idea was to do a social experiment with people who were apathetic towards this crisis. Special pop-up toilets with railway tracks, smelling of faeces were designed to compel people to face the harsh reality of open defecation. Using this event as the backbone of the campaign, awareness films and social posts were created to generate sign-ups which would lead to construction of new toilets for the poor.


India today is a study in dichotomy. While the top metros continue to thrive as global hubs for everything from business to fashion, rural India is grappling with issues of subsistence – clean water, sanitation, basic education, etc. In fact, 250 MN* people in rural India, still defecate in the open areas like a railway track. Thus, it was important to build a narrative coming from the urban mass who have the influencing power on social and other media to create conversation around this largely unaddressed topic. A citizen-for-citizen action-plan was devised wherein every on-ground and online sign-up led to construction of community toilets for the benefit of the underprivileged people of India.


**Sanitation facility access: Unimproved

urban: 37.4% of population

rural: 71.5% of population

Source: **indexmundi


12X26 ft. special pop-up toilets were built at popular marketplaces in Delhi NCR with heavy footfalls. While the exterior looked exactly like a public toilet, the interior was set-up like a typical railway track smelling of faeces. Volunteers dressed up as the affected held posters and placards conveying hard facts about the hazards of open defecation. A tab was placed right outside to invite sign-ups. Online films were promoted on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to generate conversations and sign-ups. The campaign ran between 19th Nov - 28th Nov, 2018.


The social experiment moved the people, broke the internet and took over headlines of esteemed columns generating more than 19K tweets in just 5 hours making it one of the top 3 trending topics on Twitter and garnering 9.14 million impressions and 2.56 million views in 7 weeks on Facebook and YouTube combined. The on-ground activity triggered the sense of guilt in people for being ignorant towards their rural counterparts and was successful in shedding light on the current plight of millions in India. People came forward to voice their opinion and support the movement. The campaign successfully collected 500 sign-ups in 5 weeks. So far,15,00,000 INR has been contributed for the cause. 700+ Community Toilets have been built for the underprivileged. The campaign got featured on UN's Common Ground site for Sustainable Development Goals.