Lifebuoy: Lifebuoy Soap Fights COVID-19 with Health Updates


Campaign Summary

Soap brand Lifebuoy strove to promote compliance with anti-COVID-19 precautions by developing a system for quickly disseminating health updates.



Beginning at the end of March 2021, a fourth wave of COVID-19 struck Vietnam, marking the longest and most severe outbreak ever since the disease first hit the country in the beginning of 2020. For the first time, Vietnam, the country ranked second place worldwide in controlling and preventing the outbreak, had witnessed thousands of new cases popping up every day. The heavily hit areas were urban districts with high population density, since the majority of people still commuted to the workplace, and it was a challenge to keep proper distance.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) had issued the 5K Regulation, highlighting the key actions people needed to take to keep the outbreak under control. The 5K imperatives were:

  1. Do not gather or go out unless necessary.
  2. Always wear a mask.
  3. Keep a two-meter distance from others.
  4. Remember to accurately declare your movements.
  5. Wash hands frequently.

Despite having the 5K regulation displayed everywhere through street banners, TV news, and push notifications from the MOH, consumers frequently could not remember all five of the actions.

When all the major cities in Vietnam were flooding with new cases in mid-April, confusion spread across the country. District by district, the nation went into quarantine mode, and building after building was locked down and isolated. Fake news about COVID-19 spread aggressively on social media, which caused stress and negativity.

As a soap brand that stands for safety and hygiene, Lifebuoy needed to find a solution to help consumers better equip themselves against COVID-19 through compliance with the 5K Regulation, so as to be fully aware of the situation in their neighborhood and equipped with the most accurate information.

Target Audience:

Time spent on social media reached an all-time high at an average 3.5 hours per day during the pandemic, as consumers craved connection with their communities and loved ones. Information, therefore, was broadcasted and shared much faster on this platform.

A valuable insight that Lifebuoy uncovered was that Vietnamese people preferred to have information updated by word-of-mouth through their trusted influencers, communities, friends, and family members rather than receiving the information from a government body.

That was why misleading information could spread in such a short time. Even though the MOH had developed a website to update the public on the outbreak status across districts daily, it attracted little traffic.

Creative Strategy:

Lifebuoy also realized the reason consumers did not pay attention to the MOH's 5K message was because it wasn't illustrated in an appealing way. What consumers needed at the time was the spark of optimism, motivation, and cheerfulness instead of frightening tactics and visuals. If Lifebuoy could turn the message into "edutainment," there would be a higher likelihood that the message would be eye-catching and memorable.

Lifebuoy also took note of the fact that support and inclusivity have always been embedded into every Vietnamese's DNA. Whenever a district got locked down, the community would gather food and household goods to donate to the quarantined sites. There was a huge opportunity for Lifebuoy to scale up the support for red-zoned areas through community crowdsourcing.


Lifebuoy's objectives were to:

  • Turn the 5K message into a national communication by turning it into a catchy, danceable song. The lyrics were written by a young artist who held an appeal for the young and those most active on social media. Lifebuoy hoped that this group would create conversation around the song and spread the message to the older age groups, thereby offering more exposure for the 5K message.
  • Partner with the most credible group of influencers and use their voices to spread encouraging messages to consumers at scale to lift the spirit of consumers in a difficult time.
  • Create the most accurate "Hyper Covid Alert System," which, in real time, would automatically update the outbreak and recovery status for every single district in Vietnam. Additionally, alerts could be blasted out to consumers immediately, which was especially important for the red-zoned areas.
  • Leverage e-commerce platforms to encourage consumers to wash their hands with Lifebuoy, not just with water, to ensure the best hygiene for themselves and their family. To this end, the products were made accessible at more affordable prices for consumers.
  • Activate the "One Lifebuoy Bought, One Lifebuoy Donated" initiative. This effort allowed consumers to contribute their support through purchases when they could not physically go out and support their community. Lifebuoy, on behalf of the consumers, would donate products to the quarantined sites where people did not have access to hygiene products.


Overall Campaign Execution:

To turn the 5K message into a national communication, Lifebuoy partnered with a series of trusted influencers to spread the message that "protecting the nation against COVID-19 is all in your hands." In so doing, Lifebuoy sought to rally the fighting spirit of the community. A series of digital posters were displayed on multiple platforms, as well as on over 23,000 out-of-home LCD screens in supermarkets and apartments across Vietnam.

Next, the brand turned the lengthy 5K message into a catchy dance song that could be easily memorized. The song became trendy with the young target audience the moment it was released. Thousands of responses to the tune were published by the community together with calls for 5K adherence. The inspired community also bought Lifebuoy products to support for the quarantined sites.

Mobile Execution:

With the rise of fake news on social media, which caused confusion in the community, Lifebuoy needed to develop a real-time update mechanism — its "Hyper COVID Alert System" — and leverage social media as the primary platform to broadcast cautions to its consumers in the most accurate manner possible.

The brand partnered with the Ministry of Health to gain back-end access to its information portal, containing the most timely and accurate updates regarding new cases, locked-down locations, and red-zone or safe-zone status for every ward and district across cities in Vietnam.

A bot was created to crawl all updates as soon as they were loaded onto the portal and to notify the brand in real time. Over 100 creatives were made in response to every outcome possible for more than 50 districts. These were dynamically served to people based on their locations. For example, when district seven in Ho Chi Min was locked down with more than 20 new quarantined buildings and officially listed as a red zone, a red alert was blasted to all citizens in district seven to inform them that they should take precautions, stay home, and follow the 5K actions to be safe.

When district 10 was no longer designated as a red zone and people could travel in moderation, an alert was sent out to all citizen in district 10, reminding them not to travel extensively unless required, and to remember to follow the 5K imperatives.

Every alert came with a call to action that directed consumers to e-commerce platforms, where they could find attractive offers to buy Lifebuoy products and contribute their donations to the quarantined sites.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The campaign had a tremendous impact within a short time of launching.

  • Lifebuoy was able to reach out and alert more than 14 million people in Vietnam.
  • "The Hyper Covid Alert System" acted as an effective information and call-to-action platform, generating an engagement rate 15 times higher than the industry benchmark.
  • Five days after releasing Lifebuoy's song, 127,000 social media discussions were generated and over 250 videos of the dance were made.
  • Within 1 week of launching, the 5K dance song prompted half a million search queries. The original 5K dance song released by the brand delivered an engagement rate 37 times higher than the benchmark.
  • Inspired by the "edutainment" content developed by Lifebuoy, TV Stations across the country picked up the song and broadcasted it on their networks to share the message, without a single penny being paid by Lifebuoy.
  • Together with the support from PR networks, the campaign generated an earned media value of $10 billion VND.
  • Lifebuoy's market share reached an all-time high at 92 percent. E-commerce revenue rose by 179 percent thanks to the "One Lifebuoy Bought, One Lifebuoy Donated" initiative, resulting in 1.2 million Lifebuoy products being donated to quarantined sites, vaccination centers, and hospitals across the country.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Brand Activism, Social Impact/Not For Profit | Awards: X Bronze Winner, X Silver Winner