The Media Gophers: Gold Gopher

Gold Gopher

Cannes Lions 2014 is done and dusted. The awards have been given out, the champagne has run dry, and the Lions have found new homes on the reception desks of agencies across the globe. This means that it’s time for The Media Gophers 2014. “What, how, and why!” I hear you cry! Well:

What: 8 campaigns have been given Honourable Mentions and can be seen here and here. The Silver Gopher winner can be seen here and the Gold Gopher winner is below. The Grand Prix Gopher will be announced on 4th July.

How: This involved trawling through all the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Grand Prix winners from Cannes and singling out campaigns that really strike a chord with their intended audiences.

Why: Cannes has categories and has made judgements that I haven’t always agreed with. This is simply an everything goes version of the Lions from a different perspective.

Here is the winner of the Gold Gopher:

Hindustan Unilever: The Earworm Channel

What Was Involved?

Unilever identified a problem in India. Certain regions have poor electricity supplies and TVs or computers are nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, Unilever still wanted to market to consumers that lived in these regions, but how could it get its brand names noticed? One fact stood out in its research: mobile phone ownership was extremely high at 86%. However, this referred to old-fashioned brick-style handsets and not the smartphones that many of us take for granted as being commonplace today.

In a media first for India, Unilever brought together telecommunication companies and content providers to create a “free, always on, on demand” entertainment channel that could be accessed through a “brick phone”. Its name is “Kan Khajura Tesan” which roughly translates as “The Earworm Channel”. All the user had to do was make a missed call to a phone number, and they would receive a call back. 15 minutes of entertainment would then be played down the line to them. The entertainment included blockbuster movie trailers, Bollywood songs and jokes, and was refreshed on a weekly basis. Amidst this entertainment were non-intrusive adverts for Unilever products.

It is the single largest media channel in the Bihar and Jharkhand regions.

What’s So Great About It?

Anybody with internet access, 40” TV screens, and entertainment on tap would look at this idea and laugh. However, for the underprivileged The Earworm Channel is otherworldly. In the target regions of Bihar and Jharkhand over 8m people signed up to the service in just 6 months. The Earworm Channel has a unique reach, and can broadcast messages to 60% of the non-TV households in regions. The consumer base is growing at an average of 35,000 users daily and Unilever quote a cost of just 4 cents per contact.

The Earworm Channel 1

It’s an idea that seems so simple that it’s almost hard to stop yourself getting angry about not thinking of it first. The Earworm Channel is now the only constant and reliable form of media for Bihar and Jharkhand and Unilever is in a unique position by being both the advertiser and the media owner. What’s even better for Unilever is that consumers don’t mind hearing adverts when they are so seamlessly integrated into the service and making the service a possibility in the first place. Unilever’s goal was to reach 10% of the population in the first 6 months, but they achieved 26% Why? The idea was a solution to a genuine consumer need.

Calling the Earworm Channel has become a part of people’s daily routines.

How Could It Change the Industry?

The Earworm Channel could set a precedent by which other advertisers could build similar media channels in other parts of the world. There are clear benefits for advertisers when they are both the advertiser and the media owner, and there are many untapped markets that would be as receptive to an Earworm Channel idea as Bihar and Jharkhand. The first brand in is also likely to enjoy a huge spike in brand preference through first mover advantage and being the instigators of such a service.

However, this isn’t the first time that rudimentary mobile devices have been used to positive effect in remote regions. M-Pesa is a Vodafone-backed scheme that allows users with a national ID card or passport to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money easily with a mobile device. It’s proof that there is untapped scope in devices which may seem out-of-date to the eye of a modern consumer for media agencies to pounce upon.

Who’s Involved: Lowe and Partners Worldwide Mumbai (Advertising Agency), PHD Media Mumbai (Media Agency).

Cannes Performance: [3 Gold] Gold Media Lion (Use of Media: Audio), Gold Media Lion (Digital and Social: Use of Mobile Devices), Gold Mobile Lion (Social for Mobile: Response/Real-Time Activity).

The Earworm Channel 2


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