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Why is this work relevant for Media?

Over 60%Indians wash their hands with only water and no soap,before eating and after using the toilet.Now imagine this, at world’s largest congregation-Kumbh/Magh; a large-scale infection,waiting to happen!

Lifebuoy aimed to inculcate the practice of handwashing,leading to a more hygienic Kumbh.The obvious option was to put up stalls/play games around hygiene.Instead, we created a social-hacking solution on an unprecedented medium – Hands,a readily available medium,free of charge!A simple wearable ink made of Lifebuoy formula, stamped on hands of everyone visiting lavatories and food-courts.This unusual medium seamlessly turned an unsanitary habit to a lifesaving action.Results? 30%fewer infections than festival’s previous edition!


Lifebuoy with its brand purpose is committed to finding ways to protect people from illnesses and improve health outcomes, one handwash at a time.

The Kumbh/Magh Mela (festival) poses as the perfect opportunity for the brand to live up to its proposition. With 150 million pilgrims visiting a 45-day makeshift town with 4,200 tents, 660 mass food courts and 1.5 lakh portable toilets, fatal infections are highly likely to spread under such circumstances. In fact, there have been multiple cases of Cholera epidemics at the Kumbh in the past, a syndromic survey conducted during the 2013 Mela evidenced a peak in diarrhoeal diseases and upper respiratory tract infection symptoms just after the bathing day

When Lifebuoy approached us, they aimed to inculcate the practice of handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet, which leads to a more hygienic Kumbh/Magh Mela this year.

Describe the creative idea / insights

Changing 150 million people’s poor hygiene habits overnight is impossible. So, we decided to create a social-hacking solution that takes advantage of what Indians have naturally done for millennia - washing hands with just water.

Hackwashing is the process of using a special wearable ink made of Lifebuoy formula which turned into antibacterial soap and lathered when brought in contact with water, washing off all the germs. So just by stamping people’s hand outside food courts and toilets, we ensured they also use germ killing soap when they rinse their hands with water.

A pivotal intervention that people just could not ignore. Because it was right there, on their hands! It was unavoidable since it was their ticket to enter food courts and the portable toilets.

Describe the strategy

We picked the epicenters of the infections – the food courts and toilets – where the devotees are often oblivious to hygiene and integrated our solution seamlessly in a journey that is well ingrained in the Indian culture.

We replaced the token system outside these areas with Hackwashing. Our medium? their own hands! A readily available medium, absolutely free of charge! Before they entered food courts and lavatories, we stamped their hands with a special wearable ink made of Lifebuoy formula, so, every time they wash their hands with just water, we ensured that they are also cleansing their hands of germs with antibacterial soap.

Simple, quick and successfully spreading the message of hygiene and sanitation right where negligence could cause widespread infections – outside food courts and toilets. No samples distributed; no waste generated!

Describe the execution

At the Kumbh/Magh Mela, all marketers were struggling to get the audiences’ attention, the obvious option was to put up stalls/play games around health and hygiene. Instead by just stamping the pilgrim’s hands outside food courts and lavatories with a special wearable ink, we created a simple, cost-effective, yet inevitable intervention that hacked the existing journey of devotees.

How could they ignore us? The stamp on their hands was their entry ticket/token to enter places they couldn’t avoid. This unusual advertising medium had pilgrims take notice at the pivotal moment when hand washing with soap was critical. So, every time they washed their hands with just water, we ensured that they are also cleansing their hands with antibacterial soap. With this simple hack, we transformed an unsanitary habit into a life-saving action!

In just 45 days we impacted the lives of 5mn people ensuring a hygienic stay at Kumbh/Magh Mela.

List the results

1. Hands washed with soap: At no media cost, 5Mn devotees directly experienced germ-free hands and we indirectly made the festival safer for the other 145Million

2. Ensuring a hygienic Kumbh: Kumbh/Magh festival had 30% fewer infections than the Kumbh 2013 edition (Source: Health and family Welfare department, UP GOVT). Dr. Mishra, Nodal Officer Sanitation at Kumbh Mela said, “We appreciate the role played by Lifebuoy as Hygiene Partner in this grand event to spread the message of hygiene and sanitation.”

3. Reinstated the brand purpose: We contributed 5%to lifebuoy's global mission for the year, which further helped the brand to achieve its target for the decade(2011-20), one year ahead of time (Source: USLP report Nov 2010)

4. Overwhelming recognition and PR: We achieved PR value worth 6.8Mn, with coverage in Contagious, Business Standard, Adgully, Live Mint, LBB etc., helping us to reach additional 125Mn.

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