India: Sexual and reproductive health campaigns targeting men and women using Facebook ads


This content marketing case study by Nilofar Shamim Haja demonstrates how askNivi India, a free mobile health chat service available on Messenger & WhatsApp, captured 100,000+ users in 30 days through Facebook marketing

askNivi India is a product of Boston-based health tech company, Nivi Inc. This is an actual image from one of the Facebook ad campaigns targeting men and women in Hindi speaking regions of India

How Data Informs Digital Marketing

These are exciting times to be a digital marketing professional in India. Not only do marketers have a multitude of platforms and channels to showcase, sell and highlight their products and services, but we also have at our disposal tools to monitor, review, measure, and evaluate the performance of our messages.

For marketing professionals working for non-profit, development, social enterprise, and for-profit-foundations within the public health domain, the value of these measuring tools is significant: 1) Data becomes the clincher to secure funding for overall goals, 2) Data helps us make the case for further investments in *specific* programs within the larger portfolio, and 3) Data supports our push for increasing marketing spends across relevant media suitable for specific target audience. Data is the punchline and the overarching umbrella under which we secure, support and sustain our initiatives.

‘We count our blessings, not the pill’ – actual Facebook ad targeting 18-35 year old men and women in Hindi speaking regions for India, nudging them to think about contraceptives such as the pill

At Nivi India, a Boston-based free mobile health service that leverages AI-enabled chat bot on Facebook Messenger to have conversations with our users on family planning, sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and safe ways to avoid pregnancy, *data* helps us track user journeys: from the moment they click on a Facebook advert till the time they wind up the conversation with our chat bot, and even after, when we send users reminders and nudges towards a service they requested information on.

Bharat is Overwhelmingly Online

Since our free mobile chat service is available only on FB Messenger for now – coming soon to WhatsApp India as well – we decided to go live with Facebook ads (instead of Google adwords) and evaluate the results for the launch phase. And ironically, we relied on Google’s Year in Search 2018 insights to inform our digital marketing strategy. The report makes a compelling case for digital accessibility and ownership, particularly among the Tier 2 and Tier 3 users: 350 million connected smartphone users in India, with 9 out 10 new Internet users most likely to be regional language users.

‘Small family is a happy family’ plays off on the popular government of India ad campaign for ‘Hum Do, Hamare Do’ (We are two and we have two of our own) that encourages family planning.

Targeting Our Audience on Facebook

Let’s begin with how we targeted our audience. Who amongst us needs information on sexual health, contraceptives and family planning? Literally everyone who has hit puberty and until women reach menopause (broadest appeal, but there’s a case to be made for a nuanced look at the sociology of determining public health and SRH demography). Facebook, however, doesn’t allow us to target users under 18 years for our ads. Working in tandem with our partner organizations’ needs, we narrowed the TA to men and women in the 18-45 age group, residing in the North-West-Central regions, speaking Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi. We didn’t deep dive into interests, after all, how can you filter users based on their preference for Bollywood, cricket and travelling against their need for family planning? No connection!

‘It’s our safety kit’ – promoting the use of copper IUD for women to aid post-partum family planning. Courtesy: askNivi India

Secondly, our campaign objective was to send users directly to our Messenger chat service, so they can begin chatting with askNivi India, our chat bot. Our ads had to appeal to the widest demography possible, be relatable to both men and women, motivate them to not just read the headline and description accompanying the ad, but also compel them to seek the information highlighted in the ad messaging, and lastly, our ads had to be accessible to Hindi speakers in a way that’s not didactic, or preachy, and is attractive and scenario specific.

Messaging for Sexual and Reproductive Health

The Facebook ads are outcomes, but the journey began months ago with usability testing of our mobile chat service and creating user personas based on feedback from our sample users. The user personas help us compile a real life sketch of our target audience, taking into account dimensions such as age, sex, location, education, job, family size, network and peer groups, aspirations and motivations, tensions and anxieties, sexual health habits and problems, marital or relationship status, financial health, mobile accessibility and ownership, internet browsing, access to information, relationship with public health professionals, influences from media and so on.

‘What’s the best method?’ – askNivi India Facebook ad campaign targeting 18-35 year old women to nudge them towards thinking about different contraceptives

Our detailed user personas for single men, single women, married couple with no kids, married couple with one kid, and married couple with two kids helped us determine which stage of the family planning and sexual health life cycle our users would most likely be in and craft several ads that would speak directly to each of these cohorts.

What Kind of Messaging Works for Family Planning?

Creating user personas and their journey is a significant chunk of the exercise, but the other bit is research into public health messaging and mainstream advertising messaging on condoms, birth control pills, injections, and other methods. You all remember the Mala D and Nirodh ads on Doordarshan circa the glorious 1990s? How about that hilarious but brilliantly informative scene from the movie Anubhav where Shekhar Suman asks the pharmacist for Nirodh? Cut to 2019, where we see Ranveer Singh asking us to open our “khushiyon ka chhatha“! The public service ads and notifications by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in stark contrast, lack all the jazz of contemporary Indian ads, but are equally noteworthy for their directness, volume of information conveyed, and relatable characters.

‘Stop worrying, adopt protection’ – askNivi India FB ad campaign targeting men and women in the 18-35 year age group, nudging them to avoid risky sexual behavior and adopt contraceptives

Info-Gaps Between Knowledge and Decision Making

For askNivi India creatives, we needed creatives and ad copy that would be able to squeeze the content of the videos above in the tiny real estate space of the ad headline and description, and address the everyday scenarios and concerns that users face. The end goals also varied for us: we don’t want to go the public health route of pushing family planning clinic referrals or the purchase of a condom or birth control pill or recommend a specific brand of contraceptives. That’s not the goal anyway.

‘The first decision for a newly married couple’ – askNivi India’s FB ad campaign targeting newly married couples, nudging them to talk about family planning as a vital first step of their new life together

Between the stages of say, marriage and deciding to use a contraceptive method or visit a clinic, are numerous info-gaps that a typical user struggles with in everyday life. “What to do if the condom tears during relations?” “What are the safe days to have intercourse?” “Can I get pregnant during my periods?” “I have a 6-month baby, how to delay next pregnancy?” “I heard that pills causes weight gain. Is that true?” “How many times can my girlfriend eat emergency pills in a month?” These are the kind of scenarios that our mobile chat service aims to address.

‘The beginning of a married life with the promise of protection’ – askNivi India FB ad campaign targeting newly married couples, nudging them to talk about family planning

User Journeys Rooted in Real Time

These are real questions from our users that we receive in the course of their chat with Nivi. These questions and concerns inform the messaging and tonality of our Facebook ads and address the specific situations that users need more information on. The ads also play into different psychologies: the ‘Small Family, Happy Family’ ad projects a confident family of 4, with the women taking the lead on seeking a permanent family planning solution after having two kids; the two young girls speaking to each other about misconceptions around birth control pills targets a user who is worried/anxious about a particular method; the young man clearly in panic mode plays into the fear mentality of users; and we also have the clever ‘Stop Googling, Chat with Nivi’ ad that gently chides our collective behavior to Google healthcare information and accept it as truth.

‘Better conversation is just a chat away’ – askNivi India’s brand tagline

Applying the Rules of Content Marketing

Since I come from a digital publishing background (ex-Mid Day, Design Curial, Conde Nast India), I understand the importance of CTA (call to action here was: chat with Nivi, it’s free and private) and headlines that are immediate “7 ways to avoid pregnancy” and ‘5 reasons why injections are effective”. The use of a number in the headline is deliberate (thank you, ScoopWhoop and Buzzfeed for your lessons in viral content) and is an update on an earlier ad headline that was straightforward, but didn’t get us the results: How can you avoid pregnancy or Take charge of family planning.

I also played around with A/B testing for a bunch of ads, targeting some at both men and women, and some at only women or only men, targeting as per language and region, ads that employ more or less Hinglish to appeal to the young demography (and to ascertain if users feel comfortable with Romanized Hindi), and Emojis to make the description appear less wordy and serious, and more friendly. Data allowed us to review the results in real time and provided us with impetus to experiment with advertising real estate.

‘Always be by my side, dear’ – askNivi India FB ad campaign slogan that seeks inspiration from popular television serials to nudge couples to think about family planning together and not place the burden on women alone

End result? Men Are Equal Stakeholders in SRH Journeys

We hit 100,000+ users in 30 days. And that’s just the beginning! What we learn as we deep dive into data acts as signposts and guides on our journey to helping users access relevant and timely information when they want. The overwhelming majority of users who engage with our ads are men, which is reflective of Facebook’s user demography in India. This data has given us compelling reasons to position men as key stakeholders in the family planning and sexual health decision making process. There’s a dichotomy in public health messaging which acknowledges men as gatekeepers of decisions and choices, but reaches out to women with products and services (through frontline health workers and ASHAs).

‘Are pills safe for consumption’ – askNivi India FB ad campaign

The plethora of questions shared by askNivi India male users on family planning, methods to space and delay pregnancy, and sexual health issues and intimate relationship dynamics point to their urgent concern and need to access real time information that will help them improve relationships with their partners and take charge of limiting family size. On the other hand, our data has also given us a peek into the worries and concerns of Indian women and how they tackle these problems in the absence of emotional support, financial independence, legal knowledge, or the means to act. Our future messaging will look at nudging, motivating, inspiring, and encouraging both men and women to seek information on SRH and empower them towards decision making.

If you are a digital marketing professional who has worked with healthcare or public health programs, I would love to hear your insights, observations or questions! Write to me: nilofar.ansh@gmail.com.

O Pedro restaurant transports you to Goa, right in the heart of Mumbai


O Pedro’s food and interiors will more than satiate your hankering for Goa, it will rev it up!

Ask anyone who’s been to Goa more than a couple of times. Chances are, they would have an authoritative “opinion” on what Goa is all about—best places to eat, cool bars to hang out at, and best beach shacks for the beach bums. Well, having lived in Goa for three years, almost two decades ago, the sense of what the city-state means to me hasn’t dissipated with age. If anything, the memories of the beaches, flora and fauna (miles of cashew plantation and lotus ponds), the friendly, sun-kissed faces, Portuguese architecture, the local cuisine, and the magical Christmastime bonhomie all take on a nostalgic turn as the years go by. Everything is bathed in golden sunlight (and accentuated with feni) in my memories of Goa.

O Pedro is a microcosm of all the best things that Goa has to offer and will satisfy both, the connoisseurs of Goan cuisine as well as the beach bums who have a hankering for all things Goan. The 2,500-square-foot restaurant and bar is crafted as an immersive experience for patrons; it is teeming with foliage (real creepers), old lamps and curios right out of a Goan villa, slimly proportioned cane-backed chairs, blue walls and pistachio-shaded backdrops, and pulsating Latin American music.

How does a restaurant specializing in Goan cuisine capture this sense of what Goa means to everyone? “This was a primary challenge in creating the space for O Pedro, to steer clear off any cliches and first-level-interpretations of what it means to be ‘Goan’,” says architect Ayaz Basrai, co-founder, The Busride Design Studio, Mumbai, and the man at the helm of O Pedro’s distinct Goa-inspired interiors. “In all our conversations, market visits and food trips in Goa, we looked for clues to this elusive second level of what it meant to be Goan, a layer that exists just below the first level interpretations of Azulejos and Fontainhas colours, shell windows and planters chairs, beaches and coconuts. We saw glimpses of this in the Braganza home in Chandor, colours in a particular room in South Goa that were so unnatural but fresh. We saw elements in the Mapusa market, and absorbed the madness of the terracotta work there.”

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

Mumbai’s Taftoon restaurant takes you on a gastronomic journey through the Grand Trunk Road


From the ancient site of Chittagong all the way through Kabul, Taftoon bar and kitchen in BKC, champions regional Indian cuisines.

“The idea was to represent a design in the BKC district that was calming; a modern day ambience which served the authentic GTR cuisine, seamlessly melding refined and rustic, vintage yet contemporary,” says designer Payal Khanna

A visit to a restaurant that’s just about to open to patrons is always an occasion for excitement. There’s anticipation to experience something new, followed by the hope that a new restaurant in town means the addition of a new sensibility to the Indian gastronomy scene (potentially, speaking). The contemporary restaurant scene, however, doesn’t offer much scope to stimulate our sensibilities, does it? The design vocabulary is de rigueur—exposed brick and concrete facades, pipes and vents for that garage-grunge aesthetic, and pop-culture elements that do not venture beyond graphic doodles, Aztec-inspired wallpapers, Tungsten bulbs encased within wrought iron cages, and the now ubiquitous patterned flooring.

So, it’s with a mixture of anticipation and caution that an invite to a restaurant opening is accepted. Taftoon bar and kitchen, in BKC, Mumbai, means a 45 minute ride from our Colaba office to a part of the city that’s transforming into a hotbed of gastronomic experiments (stretch your imagination from Hello Guppy’s Japanese concoctions to O Pedro’s Goan medley). Taftoon takes us on another overland journey, this time, through the ancient Grand Trunk Road: all the way from Afghanistan, through Pakistan, North India, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, finally crossing over and halting at Bangladesh.

The Silk Route a heady, lip-smacking concoction of whisky, apricot brandy, fresh Indian orange, cucumber juice, cilantro, and sour mix is something we would recommend at Taftoon Mumbai

Taftoon was a personally enriching experience as this reviewer has a master’s degree in ancient Indian civilizations—and the anecdotal treats that Chef Milan regaled us with certainly brought back memories of the lessons I learned in class about the Mauryan Empire. Consuming the food that was once, perhaps, patronized by Emperor Chandragupta Maurya and the people of Magadh, in a modern setting—replete with some of the most refreshing cocktails we have tasted—was a perfect postscript to our history tour.

Endnote: Before you attempt to review a restaurant, ensure three prerequisites: heightened senses, an intact appetite, and curiosity to dig into the story of what’s really being served. Taftoon catered to each of our prerequisites. Another visit is definitely on the cards. Could we have the Silk Route to begin with?

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

Udaipur’s Gogunda Palace hotel is a hidden gem for luxury lovers


Engage with living history by staying at the 500-year-old fortress-palace of Maharana Pratap Singh

If you love art, design and history, and have a penchant for luxury stays, then check into the Gogunda Palace hotel

Under the balmy Udaipur sun, embraced by ochre walls and stepping through labyrinths of wood-wrought entrances, we discovered what an intimate palace hospitality experience can come to signify: accessible luxury amidst living history. Situated 50-odd kilometres from Udaipur airport, the historical fortress-palace of Maharana Pratap has been restored and refurbished as the Gogunda Palace hotel, and sits majestic on a 2.5 acre lush green landscape accommodating 40 suites, many with views of the stunning Aravalli Range. The rooms are an enchanting cornucopia of mural work, art, woodwork, and medieval Mewari architecture, complemented by contemporary luxury sensibilities. Let’s take a tour of this palace hotel.

It is at Gogunda that Maharana Pratap was coronated as king (raaj tilak) in 1572 and it is from here that he left for the historic battle of Haldighati fought in 1576 against Akbar’s army. Built in the 16th century, at the height of royal rule in Mewar, Gogunda is one of the very few fortresses in India that have been restored to retain their original floorings, murals, woodwork, artworks, and external structure.  Payal Gandhi Kothari and Meghal Gandhi Pandya, sisters and businesswomen who belong to a Mumbai-based family that into’s mining, decided to step into the luxury hospitality business back in 2014 with the purchase of the Gogunda property.

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

The art of collaborating: in conversation with Rooshad Shroff


The Mumbai-based architect talks about his curatorial ethos, how objects become iconic, and leaving behind a legacy

Featured Image (left to right): Arjun Rathi (brass vessel), Anuj Ambalal (armchair), Aziz Kachwala (wall unit), Tectona Grandis (centre table), Sönke Hoof (armchair), Cyrus Patel (side table). Photograhy by Vinay Panjwani

Le Corbusier’s iconic concrete landmark, the Mill Owners’ Association Building in Ahmedabad, served as the perfect backdrop for showcasing genre-defying furniture and product design curated by architect and designer Rooshad Shroff at the Design Gallery, part of the second edition of the Raw Collaborative, held between November 30 and December 2.

It’s a rather fitting tribute to contemporary Indian design to see this exhibition at a venue that was designed by the French architect as a physical manifesto representing modern Indian architecture.

Architect and designer Rooshad Shroff flanking Thierry Betancourt’s design (left) and Bijoy Jain’s design (right)

Nilofar Haja in a tête-à-tête with Rooshad Shroff.

Nilofar Haja: When Raw Collaborative approached you to curate the Design Gallery for their second edition, what were some of the curatorial outcomes you were working towards?

Rooshad Shroff: The genesis of the collaboration really goes back to an exhibition I curated last year, 15,556 in Mumbai and Delhi, which was a culmination of 5 years of my research on furniture. Soon after, Raw Collaborative got in touch and asked if I would showcase part of the same collection in Ahmedabad. It really made sense to set up the exhibition here; the city is the centre of design, in a way, in India and it’s got the best of design schools with CEPT and NID. It was a design fair with booth-type exhibits and I wasn’t sure it was the appropriate space to showcase my work. But when I heard it was at the Mill Owner’s building, I jumped at the chance. 

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

This Paris apartment is a minimalist poem crafted in white


Designed by Guillaume Alan, the apartment is housed within a 19th century Haussmannian edifice near the Trocadero, affording views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower

The living room is signature Guillaume Alan: clean, flawless, pure in form, preceded by high ceiling stone arches that form part of the entrance hall, inspired by the Orangery in Versailles.

Designing for a French couple that loves to travel and entertain and host festive parties at home while keeping in mind their need for calm and serenity is almost an exercise in cognitive dissonance. However, for architect and designer Guillaume Alan, this contradiction afforded him the opportunity to helm the interiors from scratch and breathe life into a space where none existed. The couple, who have been ardent admirers of Alan’s furniture for several years, had an intriguing brief for the architect: to design a home that would surprise and amaze them, that would provide them the comfort and sophistication of a hotel. Alan decided to approach this project from the outside in, studying the way natural light sprang into each of the rooms and walls of this Parisian apartment, and how it created depth in the nooks and crevices.

Located on the top floor of a Haussmannian edifice near the Trocadero, affording stunning 360-degree views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, the Paris apartment is a lesson in architectural effacing: there’s poetic drama in how the interior décor speaks volumes with its minimalist form. The living room is signature Guillaume Alan: clean, flawless, pure in form, preceded by high ceiling stone arches that form part of the entrance hall, inspired by the Orangery in Versailles. The architect has retained the old mosaic floor in distressed tones of grey, bronze and old gold. Again, light is drawn in through large windows and given free reign with a soaring ceiling.

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

This designer finds it fashionable to ‘hang out’ with bamboo


National Institute of Design faculty Pravinsinh K Solanki bends bamboo to his will to create poetic forms

A workshop in Dimapur, Nagaland changed the way furniture maker and designer and NID faculty Pravinsinh K Solanki looked at bamboo. Photography by Talib Chitalwala

If there is one epithet we could apply to the work of designer Pravinsinh K Solanki, then it would be ‘poetry in bamboo,’ for that’s exactly what the NID faculty member helms and crafts in his studio on campus: hangers made of bamboo. The form essentially remains recognisable, but the structure and shape have taken on a whole new dimension with the bamboo hangers that Pravin designs, crafts, shapes, and buffs to smooth perfection (see slideshow at the end of the feature).

Pravin, the associate senior faculty for furniture and interior design at NID, didn’t set out to turn bamboo, the perennial evergreen plant that actually belong to the true grass family of Poaceae — into a material that would become the all-consuming passion of his life. But a workshop in Dimapur, Nagaland, with senior NID faculty CS Susant changed his entire outlook. “I was zapped by the beauty of green-gold bamboo and the culture (in the North East). They cook food in Bamboo, eat bamboo shoot, burn bamboo to cook, live in bamboo houses, use bamboo furniture, bamboo utensils, baskets, jewellery, and accessories…it really challenged me to work on this wonderful material,” says the coordinator of the Centre for Bamboo Initiatives at NID. Professor MP Ranjan and NID Director Pradyumna Vyas.

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

Sindhnamah invites you on a tour of pre-Partition Sindh


The beautifully illustrated photo book is a unique voice embodying the rich cultural heritage that pre-Partition Sindh was renowned for

The 18th century dargah of Shah Abdul Latif, pre-eminent Sufi poet-saint of Sindh | Courtesy: Sindhnamah / The HECAR Foundation. Photography by Nadeem Khawar

Anthropologist, writer, researcher, a qualified chartered accountant with a law degree— Nandita Bhavnani is all this, and more. For more than two decades, the Mumbai-based author of books such as The Making of Exile: Sindhi Hindus and the Partition of India and I Will And I Can: The Story Of Jai Hind College, has attempted to define the most elemental question that we all ask of ourselves and which has nothing to do with professional designations: Who am I? For Nandita, the question took on a more specific form: what does it mean to be a Sindhi? The answer, as she discovered, through 20 years of research, interviews, mythologies, texts, and journeys through the land of Sindh, Pakistan is what generations of Sindhis have been seeking.

While stories from pre-Partition Sindh continue to resonate across India and Pakistan (and was explored in detail in the author’s 2014 book, The Making of Exile), the current generation of Sindhis (across both religions and regions) are making a concerted effort to get a more nuanced reading of their histories and shared destinies. This legacy is part-mysterious, part-obscure, part heroic, and very, very human in its everyday affects — Sindhnamah, therefore, is a tremendous culmination of this exercise, both for the author and Gita’s family, as well as for the community that has a stake in the book’s journey.

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

At this ‘adult only’ resort in Goa, having fun is a serious art


The Park Baga River, one of the hospitality chain’s first ‘adult only’ boutique hotels, is only open to visitors aged 18 and above

The interior design of The Park Baga River Goa is helmed by Anil Badan of Delhi-based Studio B Architects

Goa, roadtrip and beaches are melded in public imagination like Mumbai and its nightlife, and Delhi and its street food — they go hand in hand and form the backdrop of our collective experiences in each of these places. I could never feel beach fatigue even if I were to live in a shack right on the beaches of Goa! But every once in a while I do crave a trip that doesn’t revolve around the sun, sands, shacks, beer and vindaloo, and, yes, the beaches of Goa. Enter The Park Baga River, one of the hospitality chain’s first ‘adult only’ boutique hotels, and the few in India we have come across that are only open to visitors aged 18 and above.

What does an ‘adult only’ resort imply? Well, for starters, you will literally not come across kids or tiny tots on the property. It’s quiet, peaceful and orderly and geared toward welcoming couples, friends and families (who want some down time without their tiny tots in tow). And that’s just the beginning. Take a tour of the stunning The Park Baga River Goa boutique hotel with us to find out more.

First published on Architectural Digest India.

Anita Dongre takes a giant leap overseas with her flagship store in New York


The retail outlet located in one of SoHo’s historic 1890 Romanesque Revival masonry building has been given a fresh coat of sunlight by Shonan Purie Trehan

Grassroot’s interiors have layers of handwoven mul and chanderi on the wall with the brand’s philosophy and information about the processes printed on them

Designed for fashion forward yet ethically conscious patrons who take as much interest in handcrafted luxury as they would in the silhouettes, cuts and colours of the garment, Grassroot by Anita Dongre posits itself as a sustainable luxury brand.

This labour of love, launched two years ago in India, celebrates Indian craftsmanship through contemporary clothing and is now open in the heart of New York’s fashion circuit with a store in SoHo’s Broome Street. This is the fifth Grassroot store to open anywhere, with four stores in India.

Grassroot by Anita Dongre is designed by architect Shonan Trehan, founder of L.A.B. (Language Architecture Body), who is the talent behind other breezy, bright, and design-led spaces such as the Global Desi Store in Bandra; the uber chic and massive co-working space, Ministry of New in Fort; Roti, Kapda, Makaan, the interior design hub and café in Mumbai’s Raghuvanshi Mills district; and indie home décor brand Nicobar’s second outpost in the city, at the charming Patkar bungalow in Bandra.

Read the full article on Architectural Digest India.

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