Creating Compelling Brand Stories: Lifebuoy

Few brands save any lives, let alone thousands. And it did it all using stories from real parents.

In my last post, I wrote about why I believe Lifebuoy’s “Help a Child Reach 5” campaign is the most effective social responsibility program running today. The program’s mission is to help one billion people develop better handwashing habits and thereby prevent some of the two million deaths of children under five that occur annually due to poor health and hygiene.

In this post, I discuss why two particular stories Lifebuoy shares in its program are so powerful. Brand stories are the hot, new currency of content marketing as firm after firm hires editors, writers, and videographers to find and record these narratives. Lifebouy seems to have cracked the code. The following two videos produced by Lifebouy provide insights into what it takes to tell an impactful story in a mere three minutes.

The first video was filmed in the Indian village Thesgora. Because of the village’s high rates of disease, Lifebouy chose it as the site for its pilot handwashing program, which resulted in a reduction in diarrhea from 36% to 6%.

In the film, a father is shown walking a long distance on his hands through fields, puddles, and a stairway to the nearby temple to seek God’s blessing. As the man walks, he is accompanied by villagers and people playing music. Inspiration for the story is rooted in the local practice of expressing gratitude by doing something like sacrificing a favorite food or walking a long distance.

We then learn the reason for the man’s journey. He finally saw one of his grandchildren reach five and is overcome with delight. The video ends by telling the viewer that two million children die before their fifth birthday because of diseases that can be combated by better handwashing. The emotional impact is powerful and reinforces the importance of Lifebuoy’s handwashing program.

In the second video, we are introduced to Utari and her tree. Utari has an attachment to the tree: she waters it, dances around it, protects it from water buffalo and stands by it late into the night. Why? We learn in the video that Utari’s son will turn five the next day, and it is a village tradition to plant a tree when a child is born.

For far too many mothers in Utari’s village, only the tree remains after five years. But Utari is one of the lucky ones and her worship of the tree reflects that gratitude. The video closes with an explanation of why the Lifebuoy handwashing program works is vital to reducing those deaths.

“The first video was seen by over 19 million people and the second by over 11 million.”

The first video was seen by over 19 million people and the second by over 11 million. Why were these videos so powerful and influential in helping the Lifebuoy program get 250,000 people – one-fourth of their overall goal – to adopt effective handwashing habits? There are many reasons including:

  • The characters are real, interesting and authentic.
  • Curiosity about who the characters are and what they are doing drew people in.
  • The video showed real emotions, which generated a connection with viewers.
  • The statistics of global infant deaths, which can be addressed with a simple and effective program were shocking.
  • There was a direct connection to Lifebuoy and the impact of its hand washing program.


Brand stories can be much more powerful than plain, stated facts. However, the stories can only have an impact if they are seen by an audience. Getting exposure for your brand stories requires exceptional content and a bit of luck. But first you need to start with an intriguing narrative and surprising facts, to draw people in; authentic characters and emotions to create a connection; and a relevant, direct brand message to make people remember.