With consumers in key regions of rural India lacking access to television and uninterrupted electricity, Hindustan Unilever needed to get creative to earn more share of voice. Unilever launched a mobile entertainment channel accessible through a toll-free number that offered music, movie news, and ads for select products. In just six months, the radio channel gained more than eight million subscribers and increased key brands’ awareness metrics in market.
Objective and Context:
Hindustan Unilever wanted to reach the rural audience in the regions of Bihar and Jharkhand. With a combined population of more than 137 million, these areas were key targets to increase share of voice for select Unilever brands. The challenge would be infrastructure; Unilever wanted to reach an audience that is plagued by daily power disruptions in a landscape where traditional media only reaches 20 percent of the population.
Unilever realized that 86 percent of its target community population owned a mobile phone — nearly 300 percent the number who owned a television. Mobile phones in Hindustan Unilever’s target regions served as the population’s main source of music and entertainment. The practice of preserving talk time on mobile was also very important to this market.
Unilever decided to create its own media channel for mobile. Translated as “the Earworm Channel,” Kan Khajura Tesan (KKT) was launched as a dial-in mobile radio channel offering free on-demand entertainment. The channel offered jokes, music, and the latest Bollywood content all interspersed with radio advertisements for Unilever’s mass consumer brands.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Mobile reach was stronger than television’s in the target market, so the campaign focused on mobile.
Unilever’s new mobile entertainment channel was designed to integrate some of the company’s biggest brands into consumers’ lives. To launch the media-first entertainment portal in India, Unilever brought mobile operators and content providers together. The KKT channel was piloted in Bihar, the heart of the rural belt, with the intent to grow and spread to more rural areas.
To introduce the KKT station, Unilever invited local audiences to give its hotline number a missed call based on the common local practice of dialing and hanging up to preserve talk time. When a user made the missed call to the toll-free KKT number, his or her phone immediately received a free call back offering access to the entertainment stream. The channel’s promotional messaging translated to, “Give us a missed call and get free entertainment!”
Pre-programmed channel content consisted of popular music, Hindustan Unilever ad spots, jokes, and a radio jockey host. The radio jockey added a personal element and offered reminders that subscribers should give a missed call again when they wished to hear more content. Each subscriber was allowed to receive a total of 60 minutes of radio content free per month, broken into four capsules of 15 minutes each.
Unilever created the largest media channel in its target regions, all for just $0.04 (U.S.) per contact. Within six months of the KKT launch, Unilever amassed more than eight million subscribers. As of March 2014, the channel had 12 million subscribers and had served more than 103 million ad impressions. The consumer base is growing at an average of 35,000 per day, and the project eventually aims to reach 20 million households (equivalent to 50 million mobile numbers).
KKT’s content has been a hit, with a total usage of 125 million minutes as of March 2014. Advertisements for Unilever’s three targeted brands have been heard more than 20 million times, leading to the following gains in spontaneous awareness: