A clever piece of digital hackery tackles the alarming rise of breast cancer amongst younger women in India

A clever piece of digital hackery tackles the alarming rise of breast cancer amongst younger women in India

The Background

India has in recent years witnessed cases of breast cancer amongst the under 50s grow steadily. 

Now reaching an alarming rate, especially amongst young women in their 30s and early 40s, many local and Western-based health organisations have been banging the drum about getting the word out over preventative self-care.

With some of the more traditional awareness driving campaigns falling flat amongst this diverse, disparate and often disengaged portion of the population – a major obstacle is how best to communicate simple criteria to spot early-onset symptoms.

The Big Idea

Mumbai-based, video-on-demand platform ALTBalaji took India's famously patchy network speeds, and dropouts in its service, and launched 'The Breast Buffer' – a redesign of the buffering symbol into a simple self-check tutorial.

What They Did

The transformation of the frustrating spinny wheel gives viewers an illustrative demo on how to properly self-perform a simple two-minute breast exam – proven to detect and help successfully treat early symptoms of the disease.

As a platform that is known for showing content that features positive portrayals of modern Indian women, ALTBalaji in partnership with its agency Grey Group India squarely targeted the buffer to activate across the accounts of its female subscribers.

A decisive bit of targeted marketing that turns the universally felt few seconds of irritation between streaming into a positive health warning.   

The Review

Multiple brands and charitable organisations have looked towards a mix of emotive content and innovative technology to engage consumers around serious issues of awareness in this field.

Perhaps the most famous being Aussie cancer awareness charity Blue Ball Foundation's venture into pornography via its 2015 Digital Playground tie-up.

The X-rated actress Eva Lovia plays a Game of Thrones porn parody character who stops during one steamy scene to demonstrate the ease of a testicular cancer check on her male companion before directing viewers to visit PlayWithYourself.org, and swiftly returning to the job at hand. A wildly successful campaign that was rightfully lauded at the time.

Sharing executions that are insight driven and genuinely take the time to understand the target audience, and their online consumption habits, both campaigns find an interesting way to gently nudge consumers on a serious topic whilst they are at their most engaged in what's in front of them.

However, the subtlety of taking something so ubiquitous as slow network speed and turning it into that prompt is less visceral, but in my opinion, more elegant and effective a solution for this audience.

In Hindsight

It's hard to pick apart what is an incredibly simple, genuinely positive and clever piece of digital hackery.  

The social media response alone, especially amongst some of the major female Bollywood stars, shows it's clearly resonating with the right people.

Some could argue that it lacks a shock tactic or humour laden punch that jolts you to sit up and take notice, but its subtlety is kind of the point.

Regardless, you must take your hat off to the self-awareness in which in ALTBalaji identified, accepted and then subverted a major service flaw in a way that many brands categorically would not. 

An elegant execution born out of a deep and innate understanding of the audience it is trying to reach.

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