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Over 60% of Indians wash their hands with just water, Lifebuoy hacked this unhygienic habit for good at the Kumbh Mela

The Unilever soap brand put a stamp on people’s hands using a special wearable ink that turned into antibacterial soap upon contact with water.

Habits are easy to form, but hard to break. As per the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2020, over 60 per cent of Indians wash their hands with just water and no soap at all. This is one hard habit to break because not only is it unhygienic, but it can also spread fatal diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea, pneumonia and COVID-19.

Such habits can wreak havoc on a family’s health. Imagine the same at the Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious gathering with a visitor count of 150 million. The makeshift town the authorities create for this massive gathering is even bigger than some countries. Kumbh Mela is the perfect site for mass scale infection.

This is where Geometry Encompass, WPP’s creative commerce agency, decided to do something. While it was impossible to break the habit of such a massive gathering, the agency decided to hack how people washed their hands.

The hack was to put a stamp on people’s hands. No, it wasn’t to mark those who didn’t wash their hands. Geometry Encompass stamped people’s hands using a special wearable ink made of Lifebuoy formula, which turns into antibacterial soap on coming in contact with water.

People got their hands stamped outside toilets and food courts, and ensured they used an antibacterial soap every time they rinsed their hands. The result? Thirty per cent fewer infections than the previous edition of 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela, as per the Department of Medical Health and Family Welfare, government of Uttar Pradesh.

A few months ago, Unilever (Lifebuoy’s parent company) had partnered with OYO to enhance the hospitality chain’s ‘Sanitised Stays’ initiative. Unilever hygiene kits (products from brands such as Lifebuoy, Domex, Sunlight and Cif) will now be used in cleaning and disinfecting OYO properties.