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NEW DELHI : With India’s first confirmed coronnavirus case in Kerala and World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the outbreak as global emergency, there’s palpable fear among people. Lifebuoy, the hygiene brand from Hindustan Unilever (HUL), has released a public service initiative and claims it’s not an ad in a national daily.

Created by advertising agency Lowe Lintas, the print campaign is a simple text which begins with ‘This is not an ad. This is a public service message.’ It goes on to explain an easy guide to take precautions against coronavirus. The brand urges people to use ‘FIGHTS’ which translates to frequent hand washing with soap, instant germ-kill with alcohol based sanitiser, home rest if feeling unwell, tissues and masks to be used if feeling unwell and staying away from raw meat.

The brand goes on to mention its key competitors such as Lux, Dettol, Santoor and Godrej No 1 and urges people to buy any soap they have access to.

While public service campaign is not a new territory for Lifebuoy which has been actively promoting awareness for diarrhea through Help a Child Reach 5 campaign series, this is arguably the first time the brand has included its competitors in its communication.

“Great initiative to advertise the importance of hand wash and a big hurray for mentioning other leading soap brands in the ad. First time one has seen this," said Ambi M.G. Parameswaran, brand strategist and founder of Brand-Building.com in a tweet.

According to Naresh Gupta, strategy head and managing partner at advertising agency Bang in the Middle it is a nice initiative.

“There is a lot of confusion that about the virus. A simple follow able practice to avoid the attack is good to do," he added.

However, Samir Datar, head of strategy, Hakuhodo India is not surprised that Lifebuoy decided to play on the possible fear that coronavirus is causing.

“The entire ad is trying very hard to convey that it is a public service message. But read the first two points and it becomes evidently clear that Lifebuoy is being promoted. WHO recommendation is - Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap or water. This has been cleverly broken into two points. There definitely needs to be a regulation that stops brands from using such issues to promote themselves," he rued.

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