Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jun 19, 2014

CASE STUDY: How Colgate-Palmolive won Myanmar’s first ever Cannes Lion

Colgate Palmolive’s ‘Education for Packaging’ campaign, conceived by Red Fuse Communications Hong Kong together with Y&R Yangon, has won Myanmar’s first-ever Cannes Lion awards.

CASE STUDY: How Colgate-Palmolive won Myanmar’s first ever Cannes Lion

See all of Campaign Asia-Pacific's Cannes coverage here, and visit [email protected] for round-the-clock festival coverage by our entire international team.

Editor's note: The campaign won Bronze in Outdoor and both Gold and Silver in Design. All three awards are officially listed as Hong Kong awards by Cannes Lions, although Y&R Yangon is listed as a contributing agency.


Recent political and economic reforms in Myanmar have opened up the country’s trade borders to the rest of the world. As one of the first brands to enter the market, Colgate decided they wanted to give something back to the country by helping improve standards of oral health.

Research stated that levels of oral health literacy were lowest in the country’s rural areas, and primary school children were most in need. However with little brand awareness and with scarce or no traditional media penetration, this would be no easy task. It would mean having to find a completely unique way to take educational messages to them in these ‘media dark’ communities.


Targeting primary school children with very little or zero access to traditional or digital media, the question became how to reach remote rural schools in the first place?

The Colgate distribution network was growing into the deepest pockets of the country that competitors hadn’t reached. So the agencies worked with Colgate’s packaging team to design and print health education posters inside the cardboard boxes that were supplied to local rural Colgate retailers, knowing that they would reach the rural areas traditional media couldn’t.

This ensured Colgate would reach the dental clinics and small pharmacists/village store owners in areas where media reach is small to non-existent. It encouraged local market stalls and distributors to not simply throw away these special boxes, but to have them opened up and put up at their local clinics, schools and stores, so they could play part of helping improving the local standards of oral health.

Each poster was a lesson plan in itself, with the facility to call a toll free number for teachers to call to be able to listen to recorded educational materials. Instead of using westernised educational texts and diagrams, the agencies designed a series of posters in traditional Burmese illustration styles: a combination of native folk art, local insight and oral care truths. The vibrant colours, texture and characters of each illustration tell a story which results in a set of inspirational educational materials on the ‘digestive system’, ‘brushing guides’, ‘good vs bad food’ and ‘Grandpa’s example’.

The pilot was launched on 17 March 2014 to numerous schools across rural Myanmar. Media was part of the creative idea from its inception.

Results and effectiveness

This unlikely media mix – distribution-driven posters and IVR audio – maximized the targeted reach and effectiveness of Colgate’s learning materials.

The head teacher at the Basic Education Primary school #16 (Thankangyunn) declared it "an inspiring solution to answer our most pressing educational needs. Accessing the lesson plans via the toll free number felt like having an extra pair of hands in the classroom".

Brand awareness has increased but limited data is available at this time for accurate measurement due to this being a new market and there being no established market share data available yet.

Following the success of this trial, Colgate now intends to roll out the initiative across the rest of Myanmar. The target audience was families in rural areas of Myanmar, which make up over two-thirds of this country of 65 million people.


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