In order to promote its antiperspirant brand, Sure, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), in association with Candid Marketing, conducted a college contact programme called Friends of Sure (FOS). The initiative used word-of-mouth to publicise the product.
The initiative focussed on educating young Indian women on hygiene through the use of antiperspirants and how they work to deliver underarm dryness or 'No Paseena' - the brand's tagline.
She adds that the antiperspirant market in India is highly underdeveloped and through this programme, the aim was to develop the antiperspirant category.
As part of the activity, the campaign was carried out in 16 cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Nagpur, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Manipal, Coimbatore, Delhi, Ludhiana, Chandigrah, Jalandhar and Kolkata. Female students from 150 colleges were invited to join the programme and participate as Sure Friends or trainers. They were to inform other women about the hygiene benefits of using antiperspirants as opposed to regular deodorants or talc, which only mask body odour.
These trainers were to encourage other young women to participate in the programme and tell their friends about Sure by downloading the FOS mobile application.
"We chose to use word-of-mouth as a medium to spread awareness by getting converts to convert their peers - in order to fast track trials. Also, antiperspirant products are hygiene products, not the easiest topic to talk about with strangers. Hence, peer-to-peer marketing was the most suitable option," says Sharma.
The top 20 Sure Friends will be awarded cash scholarships worth a lakh each in the first half of 2011. Numerous other prizes such as laptops, mobile phones, free talk-time, movie vouchers and gift hampers are also being given out.
Through this initiative, about 30,000 students have registered on ground as Sure trainers.
The company initially conducted a pilot programme with 16 college girls from Mumbai and these girls went across the country to conduct the sessions and narrate their experiences with the programme.
The sessions in the college were divided into four segments: tips on hygiene, health, grooming and beauty, and time management. Sharma says, "The sessions were positioned more as a hygiene and self confidence boosting mission to show students how participating in this programme will help them in their holistic development, assist them in their future career and life in general."
HUL launched Sure in the Indian market last summer. The product claims to be the largest selling antiperspirant brand in the world. Sure is sold extensively in the UK and Europe. HUL has roped in Bollywood actor Asin for the promotion of Sure.
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