Leo Burnett Sri Lanka Fights Dengue Epidemic With Mosquito Repellent Newspaper
Dengue – the dreaded word for the deadly, mosquito-born disease – infected over 30,000 people in 2013 and is reaching epidemic proportions in 2014. A word at the forefront of Sri Lankan consciousness, Dengue presents an inescapable daily threat. In an effort to fight Dengue fever, Leo Burnett Sri Lanka partnered with Mawbima, a mass-market, nationwide newspaper, to create a solution: the first-ever mosquito repellant newspaper.
Research shows that people read the newspaper most often early in the morning and in the evening – the same times when Dengue-carrying mosquitoes are most likely to strike. Leo Burnett and Mawimba identified an opportunity to mix citronella essence, a highly effective natural repellent, in the paper's ink. They created a newspaper where every letter of every word served a purpose – to simultaneously stop mosquitoes from biting and boost Mawimba's print sales.
The first stage of the campaign included print ads where letters in the vernacular blocked the Dengue mosquito. Mawbima ran these ads during National Dengue Week, an effort to create awareness about the disease, and shared them over social media. The print ads were also made into posters, coated with citronella essence, and posted at popular bus stops so those waiting outdoors for prolonged periods would not get bitten. During the week, Mawbima also ran articles to promote Dengue awareness and gave mosquito-prevention patches to kids in school.
The campaign proved the power of the printed word. Even with a bigger print run and total circulation count, the paper completely sold out by 10 A.M. and Mawbima saw a sales increase of 30%. The newspaper’s readership increased by 300,000, educating more people about the epidemic than ever expected.