In places where mass media is almost non-existent, how does a firm reach out to consumers or market its products?

Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL)’s Kan Khajura Tesan (KKT), which loosely means earworm station, is an initiative that was built to reach consumers in remote places where there are virtually no sources of entertainment.

Conceptualized by Mumbai-based media and communication agency PHD along with the packaged consumer goods firm, the project started out as a pilot in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh in 2013, where people could give a “missed call" from their mobile phone to a given number and in turn access a stream of entertainment on their handset. Since then, the campaign, which spread across the nation and reached 33 million subscribers, has become of the most popular source of entertainment in rural areas.

PHD managing director Jyoti Bansal said the project started off to serve HUL’s basic need to engage with consumers in places with few entertainment options compared with the rest of India.

The idea of the KKT was born from the insight that, despite living in media-dark areas, the rural consumer had access to one device practically at all times—the mobile phone.

“We found that rate of penetration of mobile phones was 80% in rural areas, while TV was around 40%. In these places, there was a void for entertainment as compared to the rest of the country. That’s when we decided how we fill that gap through the phone," Bansal said.

In these areas, most people source their entertainment on their mobile phones, on which they listen to songs or watch video clips.

The KKT was an attempt to bridge the divide using technology. It took about a year to execute the idea, mostly in formulating the content and working out the technical aspects.

“One of the features of our initiative was to make it platform-agnostic and free of cost to consumers," Bansal added.

As part of the project, a single number was created that always provided on-demand free entertainment. HUL’s advertisements were integrated with the content. To access the platform, anybody can give a “missed call" to 1800-30-000-123 and the person receives a call back with a range of Hindi movie songs moderated by a radio jockey and interspaced with jokes.

Apart from Bollywood songs and movie dialogues, the platform also provides informative content—you can learn a new English word a day—and devotional songs. At present, all content is in Hindi and around 15 of HUL’s mass consumer brands have been promoted through the initiative.

“After the success of Wheel Missed Call, we thought of how we can scale up and make it a bigger proposition reaching out to a wider audience," said Bansal. The Wheel Missed Call campaign was introduced in 2011 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar—a number was advertised on All India Radio in the states, and listeners were asked to give a missed call from their mobile number. The person then gets an automatically generated call and gets to listen to humorous conversations between a husband and wife.

The platform is primarily targeted at young audiences in remote rural areas where movies and movie stars have a big influence. Technologically, the platform’s dashboard tracks each call. It can also give the time of day when most users call and the most popular content. This information enables the system to schedule content based on popularity.

Each content segment has “skip" and “favourite" options. Based on this selection, the user is served relevant content when she comes on the platform for the second time. The initiative has become one of HUL’s largest consumer profiling platforms. For instance, a lifestyle segment-based questionnaire is programmed into the system. The data collected is used for re-marketing HUL brands.

Till date, the KKT platform has delivered 30 million impressions for 12 HUL brands from the across the country, mostly in rural areas. “There are things in the pipeline and we working on how to make it better. We are trying to come up with live dashboards, working on giving consumer intelligence or insights and information on gender, among others," Bansal said.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan and mBillionth awards.

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