How Unilever spread ‘Spirit of Ramadan’ on YouTube to drive donations in Bangladesh

Unilever is the largest advertiser and leading consumer goods company in Bangladesh. With a heritage of 50 years and household and food products that are present in 98% of Bangladeshi households, Unilever used YouTube and rallied around a worthy cause during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

GOALS

  • Call for immediate food donations through YouTube “Spirit of Ramadan” campaign
  • Spread awareness around message of food wastage and inequality gap, especially during fasting month

APPROACH

  • Leveraged YouTube for a call-to-action video campaign
  • Used TrueView, Bumper Ads
  • Targeting kept wide to maximise reach

RESULTS

  • 40 million impressions
  • 300,000 views during the promotion period
  • 250,000 clicks on donation site
  • 35K meals donated and distributed in 30 days

CHALLENGES

During the period of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast to feel the pain and empathize with the suffering of the less fortunate. In Bangladesh, 90% of the country’s 165 million population is Muslim. The average per capita income in the country is less than $4,000 per year. With Ramadan being a holy fasting month for most of Bangladesh, it is also a period when a lot of excess food goes to waste after the traditional “iftar” (meal to break fast).

Breaking the fast is done during evening prayers and is meant to be simple in preparation, and communal in practice. Due to recent commercialization of the breaking fast ritual by hotels, restaurants and communities, the privileged tend to eat out and over-order, often resulting in excess food wastage while many go without basic meals and water. Recognizing that instead of being thrown away, excess food could help feed the hungry, Unilever Bangladesh decided to launch a “Spirit of Ramadan” campaign in densely-populated Dhaka, the largest and capital city of the country with an urban population of nine million.

The aim was to spread awareness about the issue of food wastage while also getting Bangladeshis to act and donate food and clean water, and think of the less fortunate. Unilever wanted to make sure they got quality reach that will drive people to donate -- and this is something they believed they couldn’t do through traditional media channels.

The Approach: Capturing donation pledges online, driving action offline

Recognising the need to reach the right audience -- those who could afford to and were more digitally connected -- to donate generously and immediately, the Unilever team chose to launch their campaign on YouTube, where the audience is engaged.

The team, along with their media agency Mindshare, launched a month-long video campaign titled “Spreading the true spirit of Ramadan” on YouTube in June 2016. The video was published on the Knorr Bangladesh YouTube channel and Unilever used YouTube TrueView ads to establish the brand story. These ads had links to a landing page which explained how people could be part of the food donation pledge and “share their iftar meal”, and captured donation pledges as well.

They partnered with Bidyanondo, a non-profit organisation that works with underprivileged children and families to provide better education, health care and nutrition, to verify the pledges and then collect this food from donors, bring it to a central location, screen it for quality, re-package it and then distribute it every evening for people to break fast.

“Our main requirements were high audience base with better engagement opportunity. The Google product/service needed to add value in media planning in terms of efficiency, as well. We found YouTube fulfilled the conditions of reaching audience efficiently and driving engagement and impact for the brands,” said Tanveer Faruq, Media and Events Manager, Unilever Bangladesh.

Result: Successful campaign was repeated in 2017

The 2016 campaign was a huge success. The video, with 40 million impressions, was seen 300,000 times and drove 250,000 clicks to the donation site within the period of a month. Over 35,000 donation pledges were made, and subsequent food items were collected, quality checked, cooked and distributed to needy families all over Dhaka. Volunteers of Unilever also handed out these meals to children and families at various collection points spread across the city.

The campaign was so successful that the “Spirit of Ramadan” campaign was repeated in 2017, this time spread across three cities: Dhaka, as well as the port city of Chittagong and metropolitan area of Rajshahi.

“As digital penetration in Bangladesh grows rapidly, the partnership we have with Google helps us build and execute on our digital strategy in a way that keeps us ahead of the curve, so we can maximize the benefits gained from digital marketing,” said Rezaul Hasan, deputy general manager from Mindshare.

“Aside from Google’s ad platforms being effective, the Google team also functions as our business partner -- they provide us with audience insights for effective targeting, creative support, and best-in-class examples to help us fully deliver on the best possible results for our business objectives,” said Tanveer Faruq, Media and Events Manager, Unilever Bangladesh.

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