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Good in Goodbyes

Our work with Vodafone India dialled into local traditions, and used phone technology to transform a very unique pollution into fertilizer.

INDIA / TECHNOLOGY / VODAFONE / CSR / APAC / MOBILE

THE APPROACH:

CHALLENGE

Vodafone's global brand positioning is Future is exciting. Ready? We had to find a way to make this relevant for consumers in the Indian-market. 

India is an agrarian-country with 70% of its people depending upon agriculture and staying in rural areas. As India is moving towards rapid urbanization, cities are expanding, putting huge pressure on our urban infrastructure like roads, shelter and even water. One such city was Pune - the 8th largest urbanized city of India whose boundaries are expanding. Where rural people are influxing to the city, they are putting more pressure on essential resources like water.

But, in 2017, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board reported that rivers from Pune carry the most polluted water in Maharashtra. Polluted water is leading to chronic diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, and jaundice.

Apart from urbanization, the biggest reasons for water-pollution in India are religious practices like bathing and immersing idols of Gods. One of the largest festivals, Ganesh Chaturthi (the elephant god), is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm in Pune-City. But the festival also has its dark side. In India, it is believed Lord Ganesha comes to earth to take sorrows of the devotees. So, the immersion of idols symbolises the dissolving of problems in water-bodies. During Ganesh Chaturthi on the day of bidding goodbye to the lord, over 50 billion Ganesh idols are immersed in local lakes and ponds. 97% of these idols are made up of Plaster of Paris (PoP) i.e. calcium-sulphate hemihydrate. It takes several months to totally dissolve Ganesh-Idols made up of PoP into water. Also, the paints used in the decoration of idols contains harmful chemicals containing mercury and lead, which leak into the water as the idols dissolve. It increases acid content, total dissolved solids and heavy metals in water, which kills aquatic plants and marine life, damaging the ecosystem under water.

As a result, water pollution rises by 300% during every year.

We decided to work with Vodafone to find a long-term tech solution to control water pollution in Pune.

SOLUTION

Analysis showed that people are aware and show intent to control environmental hazards caused during Ganesh Chaturthi. But, in spite of high intent, it wasn’t translating into action. We came across 3 barriers –

Affordability: Cost of eco-friendly idols was 5 times of PoP idols.
Availability: Supply of eco-friendly idols is limited, only 3% of vendors sold them.
Tradition: People didn’t want to change the tradition of PoP idols.

These learnings indicated that the main barriers were cost and tradition, which led us to the insight that “People prefer convenience over change.”

Which implied, if we could enable people with a solution that didn’t make them spend more or change their tradition and yet be eco-friendly, they would adopt it.

Thus, was born the idea of the World’s First Eco-Ponds, which converted the POP and lead residue into fertilizers for Farmers. It helped us put the Good in Goodbyes!

To create them we partnered with National Chemical Lab (NCL) & Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). 

Our eco-pond had 4 components:

Weighing Machine
Chemical solution Dispenser
pH scale
Vodafone IOT Device
The idols immersed in these eco-ponds were treated with a chemical “ammonium bi-carbonate” that disintegrates PoP idols and converts the residue into fertilizer, making it “a blessing for nature”. 

The eco-ponds came equipped with Vodafone sim-based sensors that constantly transmitted systematic data like water levels and aggregate weight of idols in real time. With this information PMC and NCL could then initiate the process of converting the idols into fertilizers.

To ensure easy adoption we made the access to the eco-pond convenient:

We installed eco-ponds at the ambience of 7 Vodafone stores across Pune
4 Mobile Visarjan Vans had a dedicated helpline number and took the eco-ponds to the people who called.
To spread awareness for the eco-ponds, we created a campaign called – ‘Good in Goodbyes’. 

Digital: We created a video called #goodingoodbyes which spoke about the eco-pond benefits and where to find them. This video was promoted on YouTube and Facebook. On search and GDN we targeted people searching for an eco-friendly Ganesh or had high affinity towards environment. We generated 600k+ views!

Radio: Along with frequency spots on radio stations, we got popular RJs to do live coverage from various eco-pond centers.

Mobile Vans: 4 of our Mobile Immersion Vans visited 35+ complexes announcing the eco-pond solution. 

Own Media: Vodafone reached over 1Mn devotees by SMS, while also tweeting #goodingoodbyes out from the Vodafone handle.

PR: Leading English and regional dailies covered this initiative, while major news channels ran special clippings.

Influencer: Lots of celebrities and other influencers in Pune tweeted about the eco-ponds.

DELIVERING RESULTS

5000+ idols were immersed in Vodafone eco-ponds across Pune in 9 days

167K+ litres of fertilizers were created and distributed amongst farmers

3Mn+ total Impressions on digital

190K+ engagements on social media, 600k+ video views

Close to 27% reduction in pollution (with 300% as the base)

Earned media worth INR 30Mn

Post campaign poll showed that 3 out of 5 people in Pune knew about the eco-ponds and wish to use them next year.

3
M
Impressions