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By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

May 10, 2022 | 5 min read

The Drum sits down with the managing director of Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical division in India to find out how the multinational is harnessing the power of music, youth and influencers to combat tuberculosis in the country.

Brands are increasingly deploying the power of advertising to help bring about behavior change and this is especially true in changing the narrative around socially relevant issues.

From the recent example of nudging people to get their Covid-19 vaccinations to when veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan was roped in as the brand ambassador for the polio eradication campaign in 2002, there have been many instances of advertising helping to start conversations and bring about a visible change.

Recently Johnson & Johnson India launched its ‘Be the Change for TB’ campaign to work towards eliminating tuberculosis in India by 2025.

Sarthak Ranade, who is managing director at Janssen India, the pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson, tells The Drum: “The primary objective of the campaign is to create a cadre of youth change makers who can help enhance awareness, improve health-seeking behavior in communities and help in finding the missing TB patients.”

This campaign is part of the Corporate TB Pledge, a joint initiative between the Central TB Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to galvanize corporate support for the elimination of tuberculosis by 2025.

To inspire the youth of India to also join the movement, the program has onboarded the celebrities Vaani Kapoor (a Bollywood actress as the face of the campaign) and Kunal Pandagale (also known as Kaam Bhari, a young Indian hip-hop rapper and lyricist).

Why a TB campaign is relevant to everyone

Data tells an alarming story about TB. It is the second deadliest infectious disease in the world, after Covid-19, and nearly 2 billion people are infected with it worldwide, with India bearing 26% of the global burden.

As per the recently released India TB Report 2022, an estimated 1.9 million people in India reported new active infections in 2021. Ranade says: “These numbers are disturbing because, the fact is, TB is both preventable and curable.”

A key issue is the social stigma attached to TB, which leads to poor health-seeking behavior among the population and lack of diagnosis, thus creating a high likelihood for prolonged transmission. Three out of 10 people still go undiagnosed and untreated, a situation exacerbated by health disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Patients with undiagnosed Pulmonary Tuberculosis (PTB) predominantly act as reservoirs for the disease and delay in the diagnosis may worsen the disease condition and potentially increase the risk of TB transmission in the community,” says Ranade.

And that is where the youth come in – both as an impacted universe as well as the solution. “Youth are a critical fulcrum to drive behavior change in society and create meaningful and sustainable impact. To eliminate this disease from our country, it is important to collaborate with them to bring the disease out of the shadows and meaningfully invest in them as champions of change.”

Harnessing the power of youth

‘Be the Change for TB’ engages and empowers youth, with music at its center. The idea is to deploy the youth as a catalyst of change by using the platforms where they are and with the messages and mediums that resonate with their universe.

The key problem to resolve is around bridging the gap of missing patients and helping people seek the required diagnosis and treatment options, and that is where the company decided to deploy youth as agents of change in their communities, says Ranade.

Music has no language or barriers, and it resonates with youth. The brand took this bold idea of narrating the message of a complex disease through the medium of a rap song to both create the awareness and initiate conversations around TB, shares Ranade.

Accordingly, it on-boarded the popular actress Vaani Kapoor and young hip-hop artist Kaam Bhaari to help inspire the youth to be a part of the movement in bringing about the change to the TB narrative of the country.

The campaign aims to recruit the youth to help increase awareness regarding TB and normalize the conversation around the disease, by creating a cadre of youth change makers, adds Ranade, who explains that it has been launched as ”a mini-campaign series with multiple pillars that include driving sustainability and scalability with a collaborative and partnership approach”.

Within a month of launch, the campaign managed an overall reach of 23m and 100m impressions in the targeted audience of 18-29 years of youth across digital platforms (digital and social media), he tells us.

Increasingly, corporations and foundations are taking ownership of issues such as health promotion, tobacco control, empowerment of women, e-waste management and HIV prevention.

Today’s consumer expects brands and companies to use their resources and voice to speak out about important social issues, thus placing brand purpose at the forefront.

Creative Brand Purpose Johnson & Johnson

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