Colgate: How Colgate Turned the Maha Kumbh Mela into the Maha Tech Mela

Campaign Summary

Colgate wanted to increase toothpaste penetration in rural India by educating consumers about oral hygiene and the benefits of using toothpaste regularly vs. traditional, natural products that were only being used sporadically. The brand chose to reach out to these consumers at the Maha Kumbh Mela, a large spiritual gathering for Hindi pilgrims, using mobile and location-based technologies.

Strategy and Execution

With a limited budget of $8,000, Colgate had to be extremely strategic in determining how it would reach the Maha Kumbh Mela pilgrims. Since most of the pilgrims are from areas with low literary rates, it was decided that voice-based communications via a mobile phone would be most effective in driving consumers to the Colgate booth at the gathering.

Using location-based targeting, Colgate created a virtual circle around the pilgrimage site by tagging three nearby cellular towers. When pilgrims entered this circle, their phones were identified and they received a call from Amin Sayani, a legendary Indian radio personality, telling them to visit the Colgate booth for free samples, a chance to win prizes, and entertainment.

In the past, location-based targeting had only been used in India in metropolitan areas and primarily focused on text messaging or banner ads, making Colgate’s campaign the first of its kind in India.


The purpose of this campaign was not to directly affect Colgate’s bottom line. Rather, the goal was to open up a new method for reaching consumers that Colgate had not had contact with previously. During Maha Kumbh Mela, foot traffic to the Colgate booth increased by over 300 percent vs. the pre-promotion period, attracting over 700,000 visitors.

Categories: Messaging (MMS,SMS), Location | Industries: Consumer Packaged Goods | Objectives: Promotion, Messaging, Location Based, Lead Generation/DR/Conversion, Innovation | Awards: Silver Winner, Bronze Winner