Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
In a world where brands are increasingly expected to make a difference to more than the corporate bottom line, the Huggies COVID-19 Campaign illustrated how a brand stepping up to support its customers when they needed it most.
The COVID-19 pandemic and responses by the government, including lockdowns, have had various consequences for lives and livelihoods. South Africa, being one of the countries that implemented severely restrictive lockdowns to reduce transmission and limit the number of patients requiring hospitalisation, has experienced mixed consequences for routine health services, and these varied from province to province.
What was consistent, however, was that between March 2020 and December 2020, health services were limited in all provinces to some extent or another. One of the services most severely affected were antenatal visits before 20 weeks, the impact of which was also noticeable, with a measurable effect, on maternal and neonatal mortality. The different measures necessitated by the onslaught of the COVID-19 including different levels of lockdowns, the limitation of health services, lack of staff as a result of COVID-19 infection, and fear and stigma, resulted in a reduction in access to routine health services.
Kimberly-Clark's Huggies Nappies in collaboration with Liveplus Marketing, developed a Clinic Program several years ago to support the Department of Health (DOH) SA in antenatal clinics by distributing information to equip expectant mothers with essential health information and to provide assistance by distributing much needed free nappies and baby wipes. The program was aligned to the DOH's 1000 Days Of Life program and was structured to also provide for job creation in the communities the program served.
Since its inception 6 years ago, a strong relationship of trust has been fostered between the Huggies Clinic Representatives, healthcare practitioners in the clinics and, most importantly, expectant mothers within these communities.
Faced with rising infection rates with the onset of COVID-19 in SA last year, expectant mothers in township communities were at their most vulnerable, with fragile immune systems and living in densely populated areas putting them at extreme risk.
In response to the crises as seen at clinics, Kimberly-Clark realigned the Huggies Clinic Program to accommodate national restrictions, as implemented by the health sector to combat the spread of the virus. The program was updated to include the distribution of free masks to expectant mothers in clinics and included a specific focus on prenatal care during COVID-19 to help expectant mothers navigate the uncertainty and challenges the pandemic presented. The program also featured a renewed focus on sanitisation practices and the sharing of information on how these expectant mothers could protect themselves, their families and unborn children. The program continued to distribute free Huggies nappies and wipes, which in the economic climate, was of great assistance to clinics and patrons.
The Huggies COVID Program could be seen as a defining moment in the brand's commitment to care for and contribute towards the community it serves. It managed to very effectively provide a significant proof point to its audience as a purpose-led brand.
To build authentic consumer relationships, a solid foundation of consistent and authentic brand expression is needed. The Huggies brand has indeed continued its commitment – consistently - to purpose-driven marketing with extended versions of the COVID program being seen in antenatal clinics. The brand continues delivering against that commitment despite the ongoing challenges COVID-19 has brought with it in 2021 and has no doubt established a lasting footprint in the hearts of consumers everywhere.
Amanda Slabber- MD: Liveplus Marketing