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Driving Oral Health Awareness in Novel Ways

19 Jul 2013

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 Unilever Nigeria



To strengthen the brand’s influence in the toothpaste market, handlers of Close Up recently embarked on consumer sensitisation with a large gathering of people participating in teeth brushing, Raheem Akingbolu reports



Perhaps now more than ever, brand owners have come to realise that it is easier to sell products that are innovative, socially conscious, and well made, than pushing for more market share through advertising.

In today’s market, experiential marketing, which enables brand owners to engage consumers one-on-one, has turned out to be a strong tool for positioning. No wonder, spin doctors of various brands move from market to schools and various places of worship these days to connect with consumers.

Another global practice, which is fast becoming a strong platform for positioning, is consumer education through which brand owners give broader industry knowledge and tips about their own products. Beyond its impact on products, this technique is often appreciated in some quarters, as a major contribution to people’s well being, especially for its promotion of healthy living.

Oral Care Value
Oftentimes, the importance of the mouth to the healthy survival of human body is limited to the two basic functions of the mouth which are to communicate – verbal and non-verbal, and feed. However, the use of the mouth goes beyond that.

The mouth remains the gateway to the human body and several other purposes besides the basic functions. Two good examples of such functions are to take in medication and play the role of the nose in some uncommon occasions.

Besides functional benefits of the mouth, it also houses the teeth and tongue. The mouth also plays a key role in the human digestive process and system. This is why Oral Care experts advocate that the mouth deserves proper attention and care, and in doing that the issue of proper oral care came up. Brushing the teeth with toothpaste, such as Close Up, that contains fluoride, is one.

Oral care experts believe that brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste is essential to good oral health. Flossing the teeth is another. This is because doing so helps to prevent tooth decay and prevent gum disease, which is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults, and it has been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Keeping the teeth clean and avoiding bad breath are added benefits of teeth brushing.

Failure to take proper care of the mouth has consequences. One of it is that, when plaque, the sticky substance that forms on the teeth, combines with the residues of what we ate, it produces an acid which in turn attacks tooth enamel, which causes tooth decay.

The effect is an irritated gum, which can become red, swollen, tender, and bleed, easily causing gingivitis, the beginning stage of gum disease. Gingivitis can be treated and reversed if it is diagnosed in the early stages. If plaque is not removed, the gums can eventually start to pull away from the teeth. When this happens, bacteria and pus-filled pockets can form and the bone that supports the teeth can be destroyed. Once the bone is destroyed, the teeth will loosen or have to be removed.

Experts contend that brushing teeth properly removes plaque from the surfaces of the teeth and flossing removes plaque from in between the teeth. Like Close Up, the American Dental Association recommends twice a day teeth brushing, preferably in the morning and night.
Interestingly, the need for proper oral hygiene has become a marketing platform for both country and product brands. It is common for product brands to leverage popular causes for marketing purposes as is the case with the Guinness brand tying its name to the Guinness World Record book. Even at that, it takes caring and conscious brands to lend their weight behind causes, more so, since doing so comes with huge financial commitment.

Close Up Example
According to a report, handlers of Close Up, etched the Brand Nigeria into global consciousness through their ‘Teeth Brushing Challenge’ as the country that currently holds the record of the largest number of people to brush their teeth at the same time.

The event in question saw the brand, in partnership with the Lagos State government, and other partners, gather 300,000 school age children from 600 schools at the main bowl of the Teslim Balogun Stadium and across 362 other locations within the state to brush their teeth simultaneously.

Aside that fact that it was no mean feat, the challenge thrust the Close Up brand, Lagos and indeed Nigeria onto the global stage via the Guinness World Record (GWR) considering that it boasts of 750 million television audiences globally.

Designed for a wide range of age groups and gender across the world, the GWR boasts of 386, 000 subscribers on YouTube and 189.5 million views, 1.2 million followings on Facebook and 44,000 following on Twitter. China’s CCTV 1 alone beams GWR activities into 450 million homes in China alone. There are other affiliate television stations in UK, United States, and Italy.

Vital Objectives
Speaking at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, Nigeria, one of the centres where the Teeth Brushing Challenge held, Brand Building Director of Unilever Nigeria, makers of Close Up toothpaste, David Okeme, remarked that “Today’s event symbolises Unilever’s commitment to promoting good oral health and hygiene.

“At Unilever, we inspire people to take small everyday actions that can add up to make a big difference to the world. Our range of Close up toothpastes beautifies life, enriches personality and builds social confidence.

“Today, 300,000 students are gathered at different locations to brush their teeth at simultaneously. Today, by our collective efforts, we will put the name of Close Up, Lagos, Nigeria and our partners on the global stage as we are set to surpass the current record of largest gathering of people brushing their teeth which stands at 177,003,” he stated.

Remarking further, he explained that, “Beyond record setting, Close Up is also using this symbolic event to urge Nigerians to embrace the culture of twice a day brushing. This would help to ensure healthy teeth, gum and mouth as well healthy life.”

Also speaking at the event, a marketing communications expert, Mr. Wale Olabajo, hailed Close Up and its partners for coming up with such an initiative, saying that it would further boost Close Up’s brand equity. He reasoned that beyond the fanfare that went with event, the brand has reiterated its drive for Nigerians to pay exceptional attention to oral health.

“The initiative is a laudable one. Close Up has used the event to draw attention to the importance of good oral health care. However, I hope the state government can further leverage the publicity that comes with the record setting for economic reasons,” Olabajo canvassed.

The Guinness World record was first released in the UK on 27 August 1955. Ever since, according to its Managing Director, Alistair Richards, it has offered something unique to the individual and to the business as well as inspire record makers in whatever form or industry.

Tags: Health And Wellbeing, Health, Novel Ways, Oral Health

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