As India got ready to introduce the landmark Goods and Services Tax regime in July 2017, certain sections of the society - doctors, public health advocates and the tobacco control community, were uncertain about the taxation of tobacco products.
There was no information about taxes on chewing tobacco and it was possible bidi would fall under the essential commodities tax rate of 5%, which, if implemented would have lowered tax burden on bidi and would have either resulted in cheaper bidis or increased profit for the bidi companies. Both the cases would have been undesirable and a big setback to public health advancement efforts in India.
Enter Viral Baap:
Blending the power of touching visuals and tactical content, we managed to create disturbance on social media. Gut-wrenching stories of victims of tobacco inflicted diseases on Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, instead of the ususal memes, helped people realize that the horrid visuals on cigarette and tobacco packs were indeed true.
A cruel everyday reminder of the dreaded six-letter word C-A-N-C-E-R and other diseases like heart attack kept people mindful of the dangers of tobacco use.
We executed an intensive #OneTobaccoTax campaign from October 2016 - July 2017. The social media campaign ran in multiple phases in sync with mass media campaigns, earned media activities and offline advocacy. Regular social media communication along with promotions to reach a larger audience (at unbelievably low CPC by the way!), a website with CTAs to drive more actions & enhance recall, 2 thunderclap campaigns that reached out to more than 700,000 people and interviews of youth groups to project the mood of the nation, all served well to carry out a successful campaign.
The objective was to influence key decision makers by
(1) Calling for high, unified taxes
(2) A focus on Bidi, calling for its inclusion in the highest bracket.
The impact of our campaign was felt across the length and breadth of the country. Everybody, from common people to opinion leaders and celebrities supported #OneTobaccoTax. Chairperson of the Child Rights Commission and Minister for Food and Public Distribution, Karnataka, tweeted in support of #OneTobaccoTax. Salim Merchant of Salim-Suleiman fame also showed support for the cause at an event in Mumbai.
Combining our creative prowess with digital marketing acumen and on-ground zeal, we were able to carry out a landmark campaign. Analytics suggested that #OneTobaccoTax, reached out to approximately 2.4 million people on Facebook and Twitter. 1,474 re-tweets targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, were viewed 283,757 times, drawing lakhs and lakhs of reactions and conversations online.
When we earned our Kudos!
Viral Baap's astute use of social media, as a part of a comprehensive digital strategy including on-ground support, helped target messages to policy makers and key opinion leaders. People who agreed with our campaign lent their voice and shared our messages on social media, which showed support for higher tobacco taxes, allowing supporters to target decision makers at national and sub-national level. The campaign proved to be a success, as its objective was attained when the GST council decided to tax all tobacco products, including bidi, under the highest tax bracket.