How Radio triggered 1.6 years of engagement around an unspeakable problem

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Lice are the biggest hair problem faced by young girls in central and eastern states of Rural India. Mediker is an anti-lice treatment brand with over two decades’ heritage. In India, Mediker is synonymous with lice removal, having awareness over 95%; market share over 90%.

Despite this, Mediker had less than 5% penetration, since mothers use the painful yet inexpensive fine-toothed ‘lice comb’.

Three reasons were voiced by Moms:

1. Embarrassment and unspoken problem: Lice are embarrassing for the mum, as it reflects poorly on her upkeep of her daughter: embarrassing enough to be not spoken about. Mothers instruct daughters to keep away from lice sufferers.

2. Clinical Perception leading to fear of safety: Mediker was perceived as ‘chemical’ and ‘clinical’, since mothers thought that something which kills lice, would harm her daughter’s scalp and eyes. In reality, Mediker stuns lice, making it easier to comb lice out.

3. Price: Mediker is five times costlier than a regular shampoo.

Solution: Build Positivity around the Category, and hence Mediker.

Due to social stigma, no one talks about lice-removal. Mediker being the leader was saddled with this barrier: Madison Media had to do something on a larger social and cultural level to create more positive conversations about an unspoken problem.

Therein lay the key to shift Mediker’s imagery and overcome the sales growth barrier.

Campaign Objectives:

1. Build Conversations around “unspeakable problem”, through engagement

2. Build equity as safe, trustworthy Brand

3. Build New Trials for Mediker


Moms are decision makers in personal care categories, while end-users are daughters. The agency asked a question, “What happens when my daughter doesn’t have lice?”

Consumer Insight: 3 truths regarding Mom’s aspirations for her daughter:

• Mom wants her daughter to do well, be successful, playing up the fact that their kids are smart.

• Her definition of daughter’s success is changing: it is no longer about just being good in studies, but desires her daughter to be a smart all-rounder.

• Irritation and alienation caused by lice becomes a deterrent in her daughter’s life, hampering her chances for all-round success.

In India, scratching the head has a figurative connotation of being confused, besides being a symptom of Lice infestation. At the sweetspot of the three truths lay the answer to the Mom, the BIG IDEA: “smart kids don’t scratch their heads”.

Communication strategy: Mediker would celebrate smartness of kids, by building an eco-system, intending to create engagement and engineer conversations.

Media Insight: Rural moms spend time listening to radio, as this is her primary entertainment source (she has little access to television). In her context, radio jockeys are aspirational, representing the smart all-rounder, which is her dream for her daughter. The solution lay in this Insight.

The engagement idea: Daughters could come live on radio, becoming a radio jockey for one week: a pay-off money cannot buy, giving them local celebrity status and engineering conversations. This elevation of daughters gave huge pride and talk-ability to moms.

Eco-system: At the heart of this engagement platform was public broadcaster, All India Radio (AIR), due to its high reach and loyalty among moms. Madison built the eco-system with three pillars around radio: Mobile + toll-free Number, Schools and PR. It partnered with an NGO, School Health Annual Report Programme to bring this alive.


“Smart kids don’t scratch their heads”: Showcased how smartness lies in overcoming problems. The programme went live on 22 Radio Stations, three times a week.

To create conversations, this ecosystem worked in a five-step chain:

1. Setting Inspiring Positive Examples: Radio triggered the chain, inviting Moms to encourage daughters to become kid RJs. (The show created a smart character, Priya, and her Mom, dramatising her smart responses to tricky situations life threw at her. Priya epitomised the smart girl, every mom’s aspiration.)

2. Inviting Participation: Kids could call a toll-free number and record how they found a smart solution to an everyday problem of theirs, just like Priya. Example: smartly solving a painting that got ruined by a paint smear.

3. Selected girls become kid RJs of the show for one week, broadcast on Radio.

4. Creating a virtuous self-sustaining eco-system: This kid RJ was then leveraged to create conversations, through a PR event in a school, along with her parents and teachers. The agency invited media to share her success story, inspiring more moms and daughters to participate.

5. Amplification and Inspiration: This girl's story was then taken to more schools by the NGO, inspiring more kids to participate. The NGO partnership built credibility for the brand, lowering school barriers of marketing. Additionally, the school programme touched teachers who serve as source of advice for parents.

This ecosystem has been set in motion, and continues to run, week after week, building engagement and creating a virtuous cycle of conversations.


1. Conversations through Engagement:

• Over 650,000 calls received from children; 80+ rural kid RJs.

• 55% mothers spoke about Mediker’s initiative and lice to friends, first time in life. (Source: Client commissioned Independent Research)

• Unprecedented listener engagement:

- Calls lasting over 818,000 minutes’ received: 1.6 years equivalent of engagement.

- Show had 2.8 times higher engagement rate (average 1121 calls daily vs industry norm of ~400).

- Higher engagement on call, average call duration of 76.1 seconds.

• Earned Media from PR valued over US$ 350,000 (ROI over 10X times)

2. Brand Perception on safety, trust:

• Brand safe to use scores up from 33% to 78%

• Brand I Trust up from 36% to 77%.

 (Source: Research: audience exposed to Campaign vs general population)

3. Building New Trials:

• 80% mothers tried Mediker for the first time. (Source: Independent Research)

• Consumer demand led to more retailers stocking Mediker; Trial pack distribution went up 43% (Source: Retail Audit)

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Mediker Anti-Lice Treatment Naturals
Brand Owner:
September 2012 - August 2013
Madison Media
Media Channel:
  • FMAs shortlisted

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