Brazilians live in a climate of nearly constant rain. Most of the nation averages over 50 inches of rain per year, while some areas see over 120 inches. This leaves many communities struggling with an overabundance of standing water. These spaces provide ample breeding ground for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the carriers of numerous deadly diseases, such as Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.
Brazil’s favelas (slums) — some of the largest in Latin America — are the most affected by these fatal diseases. These are the poorest regions of one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, with the top 10 percent of its population earning a full half of the national income. Residents’ impoverished state, combined with the communities’ informal and ramshackle nature, hinders access to medical care and signifies near-nonexistent drainage and roadway infrastructure. Favela residents (moradores de favela) also suffer from significant discrimination, drug activity and violence. How do you make individuals aware of and transform their unconscious behavior to protect the nation’s poorest citizens from an invisible killer?
Transform a home into a death trap.
BETC São Paulo and Havas worked with Habitat for Humanity Brazil to develop “The Dissolving Poster,” an educational poster that dissolves into larvicide when wet. Each poster transforms 200 mL of standing water into a mosquito death trap for 60 days, using a combination of BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) larvicide powder, organic glue and soluble rice paper sheets. They are safe for the environment, animals and people, and if there’s no rain — a rarity in the country — each poster remains active for a maximum of two years.
The agencies partnered with local artists to produce and distribute the posters to Habitat communities in need. The posters highlight either the diseases they prevent or provide educational instructions to fight against mosquitoes, using mantras like:
Stay tuned: Put sand in the plates, under the plants.
Rain down, covers up: water tank, barrels, garbage bins
Don’t hesitate. Always keep empty water bottles upside down.
The organization maintains projects in over 70 countries and sees this as a workable solution for programs around the world. “The Dissolving Poster” served as one of Habitat for Humanity’s top-performing social posts, with over 500 shares and tens of thousands of views.
BETC and Havas received a bronze Cannes Lion in the Health & Wellness category during the first day of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for this work. Brazil received the first four awards of the festival, with more to come: Brazilian agencies received a number of category awards, and ‘Tagwords’ for Budweiser and the Corruption Detector for Reclame Aqui earned the country Grand Prixs. This continued success throughout the week — combined with a widespread and controversial industry PSA — kept Brazil top of mind during the event.
What they said:
“We are talking about a simple, accessible solution to a very important part of the problem, which is to avoid the hatching of Aedes aegypti. This transforms rainwater into a deadly trap for mosquitoes,” said Rodrigo Perez, one of the researchers tasked with the project.
Lessons to be learned:
- Make it happen. — An awareness campaign can work wonders, but as other award-winning campaigns, like Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks, demonstrate, actionable efforts can do even more to create change. Don’t just talk about what you want to do — do it. Taking the first step demonstrates brands’ firm and sincere commitment to the causes they purport and often serves to initiate the desired transformation in behavior when organizations rely on action for success.
- Promote purpose over cause. — In a world of corporate social responsibility and scrutiny over brand values, brands need to understand the difference between rallying behind a cause and standing for a purpose: Cause marketing is, for the most part, against something. Purpose, on the other hand, tends to lean into support for something. Cause marketing historically relies on corporate giving, whereas for many up-and-coming companies today, purpose lies at the heart of their business models. According to the World Value Index, those brands that resonate most with consumers on a value-based platform reflect a fundamental attitude, a profound reason for being and a positive change that they want to see in the world.