According to the Child Rights Movement (CRM) National Secretariat, in 2016, over 12.5 million children in Pakistan were involved in child labour. As a result, Lipton, Unilever’s leading tea brand, and The Citizens Foundation (TCF) have joined hands to try and turn around the lives of some of the children (referred to as chotus) working in chai dhabas (tea houses) across Pakistan by launching the ‘Lipton Chotu’ campaign with the tagline ‘Jagaein Uske Liye Jo Waqai Ahem Hai’ (stand up for those who truly matter).
The initiative, says Mohsin Zaheer, Assistant Brand Manager, Lipton, is not necessarily targeted at only the chai dhaba chotu, but at every chotu working to support his family. He says this programme is a part of an international Lipton initiative of ‘Be Awake to What Really Matters’, which has taken different forms in different countries, depending on their most pressing social issues. For example, in Turkey the campaign focused on partnering with an organisation that distributed tea to remote areas which did not have access to the markets in winter due to the roads being blocked.
Zaheer qualifies it as “a positive approach, endorsing the positivity that Lipton as a brand promotes and every country has embraced it in its own manner.”
An additional benefit of working with TCF is that they are equipped to reach out to the parents and make them aware of the long-term benefits for the family and the child of going to school rather than working in a shop.
In Pakistan, the brainstorming and research conducted by the brand and Bull’s Eye DDB (Lipton’s agency) brought to the fore several issues such as pollution, traffic congestion and child labour.
“There was this moment when we were sitting in a chai dhaba and we realised there was a pressing social issue right there,” says Qazi Yasir Ahmed, COO, BE DDB. “We observed the chai wala culture and became interested in the story of the chotu. What does he want? What is he getting? And what can we give him?”
Interviews and research revealed that the’chotu’ doesn’t want to be there, but has no choice; either because of his family’s financial circumstances or because he is the son of the chai dhaba owner and is expected to support the family business. However, in either case, the families did express an interest in sending their boy to school.
In order to make the initiative a nationwide one, Lipton opted to partner with TCF, a nationally-recognised organisation. Furthermore, partnering with TCF enabled Lipton to immediately sponsor 10 schools that are evenly spread geographically.
Zaheer says that partnering with TCF did not only bring expertise to support the initiative, it also brought legitimacy. In the long-term, it is hoped that the initiative will go beyond Lipton and become an opportunity for the citizens of Pakistan to invest in the education of underprivileged children. An additional benefit of working with TCF is that they are equipped to reach out to the parents and make them aware of the long-term benefits for the family and the child of going to school rather than working in a shop.
In this regard, although Lipton has already adopted 10 TCF schools, the deeper objectives of the campaign are to create awareness and encourage people to donate to the overall cause. The idea is to turn the ‘Lipton Chotu’ campaign into a platform whereby people support the cause in any way they want to and not necessarily through TCF or financially; it could mean holding classes at one’s own home for the chotus of the area, or donating old books. Ahmed clarifies that the initiative is for every chotu, whether he works at a tea shop, a garage, a juice shop or elsewhere.
The primary medium of promotion has been video on digital, although Zaheer confirms that a shorter version of the promo video for TV will be on-air soon. There have been no on-ground activities because Lipton doesn’t want the initiative to turn into a charity event.
The fact that such initiatives by brands are often criticised for being media stunts was a source of concern. However, according to Ahmed, the public understood the idea and the response has been positive. “When the video was posted online, the positive comments were a testament to our success of getting it right.”