Bulgam Bhai - the new superhero in town to drive away TB

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 16, 2012
BBC World Service Trust, in partnership with PSI and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, creates awareness about tuberculosis in a new campaign.

The Central TB Division (CTD), along with The Union and World Vision India (WVI), has launched a nationwide campaign under project Axshya to create awareness about tuberculosis and its symptoms.

The campaign is based on the findings of a research conducted by Population Services International (PSI). The findings indicate that in most cases, cough is not perceived as a serious issue by people. Also, a lot of time is spent in shopping for solutions like home remedies, approaching quacks or chemists, and going for a battery of tests, leading to a worsening of the condition and low awareness about the medical services available.

The new campaign creates a link between two weeks of cough and tuberculosis, and urges people to test sputum at the Designated Microscopy Centre (DMC) or Bulgam Jaanch Kendra.

Created by BBC World Service Trust (BBCWST) in partnership with PSI and The Union (International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease), the campaign features a fictitious superhero, Bulgam Bhai. The superhero sits in his den with all necessary gadgets that help to detect cases of coughs that have lasted for more than two weeks. On hearing anyone coughing, he introduces himself as 'myself Bulgam Bhai' and urges people with prolonged cough symptoms to go to the Bulgam Jaanch Kendra and get their sputum checked.

Radharani Mitra

Radharani Mitra, national creative director and executive producer, BBCWST India, says, "The creative challenge was to turn sputum, which is not really pleasant, on its head and come up with an idea that can, over time and through exposure, gain currency of its own and ring a bell on the right thing to do, if one has been coughing for over two weeks. One can love or hate Bulgam Bhai, but can't be indifferent to him!"

S Shankar Narayanan, director, programmes, PSI, explains, "The idea is to focus on two core factors - low knowledge level and changing the present perception of low risk to how dangerous the actual situation can be."

The campaign, created in four languages - Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Punjabi - will continue till the end of this month.

The television commercial is currently on air on various Hindi general entertainment and news channels, apart from several regional channels including Zee Marathi, Zee Talkies, STAR Pravah, PTC Punjabi, PTC Chakde, PTC News, 9X Tashan, ETC Punjabi, Udaya TV, Suvarna TV and Kasturi TV. Also, radio is being used through the launch of the Bulgam Bhai radio show, which comprises of 15 interstitials of two minutes each and six episodes of 15 minutes each.

The campaign will also use outdoor media, along with promotion through traditional media, street theatre performances, a video van activity and an inter-personal tool-kit containing games and puzzles, which will be used by health workers to create awareness.

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