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Project Dhoop: FSSAI & Kwality against India’s Vitamin D deficiency

Before we understand Project Dhoop, let’s get a little context of the issue. India is a sunny country with a tropical climate: on average, most parts of India get around 2,500-3,000 hours of sunshine every year. So, one would assume that a country as rich in sunlight as India would also be rich in vitamin D, right? Wrong.

Vitamin D deficiency was reaching epidemic proportions in India. More than 50 studies conducted over the last few years in India have shown that:

The natural option to get vitamin D remains is through prolonged exposure of bare skin to direct sunlight regularly and not once-in-a-while. Furthermore, very few foods in nature contain Vitamin D: The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

Now, given that 40% of the country adheres to vegetarian diet and that the type of fishes mentioned above are expensive for the chunk of the population. The existence of deficiency is no surprise.

But there was someone who changed the habit. Kwality Dairy, an Indian company that processes and handles dairy products, tackled the problem of Vitamin D deficiency among Indian children through a campaign centred around school assemblies. They joined hands with FSSAI to have a better reach with the initiative.

How did Kwality Dairy tackle this problem? Before we jump into the “How” let us understand a little bit about the company. Most of us know the company as an Ice cream company – it is a little more than that.

Related: Take a look at the Organic Industry in India
About the Company

Kwality Ltd. (Kwality) was incorporated in 1992 as Kwality Dairy (India) Ltd. The company was set up as a backward integration unit of Kwality Ice Creams India Ltd and was acquired by Dhingra Family in 2002. Kwality is one of the fastest growing private sector dairy companies with a new range of innovative products and enjoys a large presence in Northern India.

Facts about the Campaign:
Lead agency: McCann Worldgroup India
Industries: Dairy products, fats, oils
Media channels: Events & experiential, Newspapers, Public relations, Websites & microsites, Word of mouth, influencers
Budget: Up to 500k

Kwality Dairy’s Objective

To get the under-exposed children out into the sun regularly, and to affect a behavior change at a mass level. They formulated two key performance indicators to measure the success of their campaign, one being the number of children that started getting exposure to the sun regularly and two, cumulative amount of sunlight minutes that these children would get.

Insight and strategic thinking

Their key insight was that Indian society viewed sunlight as an enemy with two main problems:

Parents were overprotective. The importance given to fair skin in India leads to parents shielding their children from direct sunlight at any cost. The rising levels of pollution as well as increasing temperatures add even more to the paranoia surrounding the outdoors.

Brands made the sun a villain. Beauty brands magnified the effects of sun exposure to people’s skin. Beverage brands showed the sun sucking out energy from children. While it worked in the brands’ benefit, it wasn’t beneficial for children.

The solution they came up was in the form of the ‘Noon Assembly’, a minor shift in school timetables that made sunlight a regular and mandatory part of children’s lives. They named this initiative, Project Dhoop.

Creative and channel execution

Science told them that exposure to the sun between 11am and 1pm can provide up to five times more vitamin D formation as compared to morning hours.

Kwality needed multiple levels of influence in order to enact this change. For this, they engaged Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and Indian Society for Bone and Mineral Research to publish studies validating effectiveness of the idea, convinced principals and governing bodies of the merit of this exercise, who in turn made the changes in their school timetables and got parents and guardians on board through letters sent by their children’s schools and print ads in leading newspapers. In short, they brought together key opinion leaders, decision makers and parents to reach the real beneficiaries, i.e., school children.

Noon Assemblies was made a nation-wide movement. Different medium were used to reach their target audience such as, experiential showcasing – The idea was introduced through a pilot scheme, conducted at Bal Bhawan with the participation of media outlets and key opinion leaders, mass media amplification, digital outreach, PR push through news media and also by partnering influencer bodies like NCERT, CBSE and ICSE, as well as NGOs like Save the Children and GAIN to spread the initiative widely.

Success of the campaign

The campaign achieved the following:

  1. 1,007 schools signed up to the scheme within the first five months
  2. 956,650 children across India had vitamin-rich sunlight as part of their regular routine
  3. 717,488 parents across India supported the initiative
  4. More than 20 million minutes of sunlight exposure accumulated
  5. Equivalent to over $700k-worth of vitamin D supplements
  6. Garnered the support of numerous influential bodies

We’re sure to see a much healthier set of grown-ups with stronger bones given the amount of success the campaign has achieved. It was because of sheer love to help their country did Kwality go beyond and brought about the change. Similarly, It was also because of sheer love to help Business enthusiasts like yourself did Ananya Garg pen this piece for us. Drop a thank you when you can.

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