Communicators can bring positive change to society by amplifying consumer voices & issues

Well crafted public advocacy campaigns have a significant power to impact changes in society. Campaigns like Tata Tea “Jago Re”, have connected well with the psyche of the common man and raised issues in an impactful manner. For the last decade or so, digital platforms have added speed, reach and impact to such advocacy campaigns.  Well known corporate houses and brands have used such campaigns to change perceptions and drive conversations about issues that are relevant to society. 

The “Real Beauty” campaign by Dove which conveyed that women’s unique differences should be celebrated, rather than ignored, and that physical appearance should be transformed from a source of anxiety to a source of confidence. While there has been a wide spectrum opinion on the campaign, it undoubtedly successfully generated a large number of conversations and discussions about an important women centric issue. Another significant campaign was Hindustan Unilever’s  ‘Haath, munh aur bum, bimari hogi kam’ campaign which was aimed at preventing diseases among children. The company wanted to use mass media to drive a change in sanitation habits and behaviour, which would not only prevent diseases among children but also remind adults the importance of daily hygiene. 

In 2017, when we started Consocia Advisory, we saw an opportunity in enabling an environment to start public advocacy campaigns in the areas of road safety, responsible drinking and also in the area of health awareness as well. My favourite campaign however, is the one we did for consumers in  the alco bev sector. The need for this campaign arose from several barriers which were creating challenges for consumers, restricting responsible alcohol consumption. We wanted to understand the voices of consumers and highlight them, so that there would be awareness around these issues. The sensitivities of the topics involved, made this an extremely complex and nuanced communications challenge. 

Consocia built a multi pronged strategy involving primary and secondary research, stakeholder engagement, public relations outreach and a social media campaign providing a 360 degree campaign approach. Multiple stages of research gathered data and information from 3000 millenials and consumers of 7 cities across the country. A key finding that emerged, was that most of the consumers wanted to consume alcohol responsibly, however, they could not do so due to several constraints of the ecosystem, some of which were lack of uniform drinking age,  lesser availability of legal drinking premises and poor state of licensed liquor shops.   

The key findings of the research were used to derive appropriate narratives for various sets of stakeholders. These narratives were used to create PR campaigns and an award winning social media campaign #StayNotOut, which has become an extremely successful responsible drinking campaign on social media in the country, with an digital reach of over 20 million and 256000 responsible drinking pledges across three social media platforms. The news coverage was published in over 30 national and regional publications. This is a good example of how compelling and targeted communications  created a platform for amplifying consumer voices. 

Several public sector organisations like the Railways, PCRA and oil and gas companies have long been educating people about extremely important issues around safety, fuel conservation. Over a period of time, this has sensitised millions of people about these extremely important issues. The Pulse Polio Campaign ‘Do Boond, Zindagi Ki’ has been tremendously successful and has been running for 25 years, creating awareness among millions about the importance of polio immunisation. India was declared polio free in 2014, and the communications campaign was one of the key drivers of its success. 

It is very interesting to note that some government departments are responding to modern trends in an agile manner. Over the past few years, the Mumbai Police has received tremendous accolades due to the creative, interesting and impactful use of Twitter. They have raised awareness on road safety issues, responded to public requests for help and driven numerous conversations with humor, wit and charm, enhancing the overall image of the force. Going forward, we will certainly see more public advocacy campaigns making their mark, as brands and organisations keep finding creative ways to bring positive change.  

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Deepak Jolly
Deepak Jolly, Founder, Consocia Advisory is a leading Corporate Affairs & Communications, Sales & Marketing professional with a career spanning over 34 years across top Multinational companies. He is widely recognized as an industry leader in Policy Advocacy, Crisis Management, Reputation Management, Stakeholder Engagement as well as Sustainability and Marketing programs.

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