A look at industry’s most impactful PR campaigns that mattered in 2020

Despite rationed budget allocations & reduced deadlines, this defining year has seen some exemplary work put together by the PR professionals

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Dec 28, 2020 8:31 AM  | 18 min read

2020 has been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of an experience for mankind. We have seen it all; from the pandemic to protests, from natural disasters to forest fires, from lockdown to lockdown weddings; the year had everything to be worth reminiscing (not so, literally). The distorted year saw many disruptions occurring in the PR and corporate communications domain which aided in navigating and changing the narrative of the industry at large.

The challenging times have chiseled the potentials and sharpened the skills of professionals in the public relations diaspora. Despite rationed budget allocations and reduced deadlines, this defining year has seen some exemplary work put together by the PR professionals which have not only created impact but also helped their clientele sail through harsh times.

Exchange4media reviewed some of the most creative campaigns that mattered in the year 2020 and resulted in making some meaningful chatter in the industry.

  1. Adfactors PR

     a) Campaign:  #ItsJustAPeriod

     b) Client: Stayfree

     c) Objective: “Research indicated 2 million-plus girls would get their periods during the lockdown. Worryingly, reports suggested that 71% of these girls would be unaware of menstruation before experiencing it. Their primary source of information was schools/mothers. However, as schools remained shut and many mothers thought periods were dirty, our society faced a crisis of building up of wrong notions around periods. Our client, Stayfree produced a video, #ItsJustAPeriod, to trigger period-related conversations within families, and remove the stigma. The campaign, supported by an integrated campaign with influencer activation on social media, had OTS (120 million-plus) and social media outreach (1 crore-plus).”

       d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: Integrated Social Media reach(FB, IG,YT) 10.17 million

  • Integrated social media outreach (FB, IG, YT) male users: 1.03 lakh.
  • Collaboration with the likes of Sonu Sood, PV Sindhu, Rajkumar Rao, Genelia D’Souza, Kritika Kamra, and Sanya Malhotra               

      e) Impact of the campaign: The campaign garnered good coverage with an IANS newsflash and various top news publications such as News18, Outlook, The Quint, and others featuring the story. Lokmat, a leading Marathi publication, featured the story with the call for action by mentioning the hashtag #ItsJustAPeriod.


  1. Genesis BCW

        a) Campaign: Gillette Barber Suraksha Programme

        b) Client: Gillette India 

        c) Objective: “The COVID19 pandemic has affected millions of people across the country. The lockdown has resulted in the loss of livelihood of thousands—including barbers. Our team supported Gillette in their cause to provide support to the barber community under their Barber Suraksha Programme where barbers are provided with COVID insurance, Suraksha (protection) sanitation kits, best practices videos for safety, and most importantly, with hope for the months to come. “

       d) Engagement numbers/social media reach: The campaign garnered over 45 million views and over 29 million engagement with PR impression worth 514 million with 99% positive sentiment in the media. 

       e) Impact of the campaign: The campaign, which ran from June–August 2020, helped turn the barber community from direct competition to strategic business partners. It increased trials and encouraged repeats for double-edged blades (Winner). It also gave the brand an opportunity to grow at 9 million dollars over the next 3 years.

3) Weber Shandwick


     b) Client: National Skill Development Corporation

     c) Objective: “With more than half of the world under lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people are still grappling to come to terms with the uncertainties that come along with it. This indefinite period of crisis or the ‘new normal’ has led to heightened uncertainty among individuals, along with large-scale mental stress that needed to be addressed.

      The idea was to help individuals around the world deal with the current situation better and instill a sense of positivity among skill enthusiasts. This was achieved through #UnlockingSkills, a series of webinars, online events, and motivational talks that enlightened individuals about numerous skills, brought in fresh perspectives and explored several opportunities for skills in a post-COVID world.”

    d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: The initiative generated 3.7 million impressions and has so far reached over 826,000 people. 

    e) Impact of the campaign: 124 online events in partnership with 30 organizations which includes state government, youth organizations, NGOs, startups and educational institutes.

4) Avian WE

   a) Campaign: Dettol Banega Swachh India

   b) Client: Reckitt Benckiser

   c) Objective: “A hands-on approach to influencing better health and hygiene. Avian WE partnered with RB to amplify its work with like-minded organizations to create awareness of the programs aimed at increasing adoption of healthy hygiene practices within the impacted communities. These strategic partnerships across the country helped establish Dettol as a champion for hygiene across India.”  

   d) Impact of the campaign: 5 million school kids in six states reached by Dettol Banega Swachh India Hand Wash Digital Curriculum to date, which helped lead to a 10% reduction in diarrhea instances and in turn proportionately increasing school attendance. 300+ villages in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and 50 Maharashtra Urban Local Bodies declared Open Defecation Free. 52% of cities increased their access to toilets and 40% of cities demonstrated better utilization of funds for sanitation behavioral change and communication activities 

5) PR Pundit

   a) Campaign: Vivel Voice of Art

   b) Client: ITC Vivel

   c) Objective:  “Throughout human history, art has always been a significant tool to chronicle different facets of culture and challenge inequalities and injustice. It has been a powerful medium of expression and communication to empower and inspire change. Under the brand’s overarching philosophy of Ab SamjhautaNahin, ITC Vivelembarked on a unique initiative -Vivel Voice of Art. It brought together one of India’s largest collective of young artists to weave a new-age narrative of equality through Art. Vivel’s Voice of Artencouraged a passionate expression on canvas to inspire a more equal society. Vivel’s Voice of Art repository was reflective yet futuristic in interpretation against patriarchy.”

On World Disability Day, ITC Vivel partnered with AltMuseum, to help visually impaired artists to explore a visual social medium like Instagram. Popular social network Instagram has transformed into a platform for creative expression, engagement, and even a source of income for many. AltMuseum enabled a simple functionality of alt-text available on Instagram to introduce a creative experience for the visually impaired. With the talk-back setting on Android and voiceover feature in iOS-enabled phones, a creative coded in alt-text helped in describing the visual through an audio narrative."    

   d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: Campaign reach- 7 crore

                                                                             PR Value- INR 3,15,90,000)

                                                                             Total engagement- 1 million 

                                                                             Total impressions- 75 Million

                                                                             Video views- 20.5 million

   e) Impact of the campaign: Vivel’sVoice of Art introduced a unique platform for young artists. A platform that presented the voice of young artists, their demand for equality, their passionate expressions against patriarchy – be it stereotyping on the basis of gender or attire, highlighting pay gap, societal gender bias, etc. More than 400 art entries were received from across the country sharing interpretations of a progressive and equal society. Vivel Voice of Art is the beginning of a unique expression that encourages women to say Ab SamjhautaNahin.

6) Value 360 Communications

   a) Campaign: #PowerOfBlack

   b) Client: Evocus

   c) Objective: “Evocus is alkaline water enriched with 70+ natural minerals with a pH of 8+. Alkaline water along with natural minerals possess antioxidants, anti-aging and anti-acidity properties. It cleanses the colon and rejuvenates the skin. The minerals infused to enrich Evocus is naturally black in colour, which in turn lends EVOCUS its unique dark black colour.

Digitally we needed to reach out to the audience who are health conscious and stabilize it as an everyday consumption brand. The color black being the key uniqueness of the brand along with the other benefits the campaign #PowerofBlack was designed to create a conversation during the festive time.

Various content pieces were designed such as videos, Gifs, static to communicate the message along with influencers, and celebrity integration was done in the form of stories. The contest was designed to engage with the audience and spread the #PowerofBlack.”

  d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach:

  • Total Impressions on Instagram: 2,233,046 +
  • Total Audience Garnered: 33% increase
  • Celebrity mentions Receiver: 8+( Hardik Pandya, SaniaMaiza, Tapsee, Neha Dhupia)
  • Highlights: 
    • IPL T20 post of Hardik Pandya using Evocus 
    • Viral Bhayani Repost 


7) Edelman

   a) Campaign: At Home with Airbnb

   b) Client: Airbnb India

   c) Objective: “In March 2020, India joined the list of countries around the world that adopted unprecedented lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. There were restrictions for all travel. Yet, people were itching to meet and interact with others, try different things, and experience a world beyond their homes. With no travel on the horizon, the business had all but stalled for Airbnb globally. Airbnb’s Experience host community, more than half of whom are small or independent business owners, were hit hard as income came to a standstill. In April, true to its proposition as one of the world’s largest marketplaces for unique, authentic places to stay and things to do, Airbnb introduced Online Experiences on its platform. Online Experiences provided an easy opportunity for someone to become a host, earn an income, and pursue a passion. This also allowed Airbnb to continue fostering human connections by giving guests easy access to people in other countries, and breaking geographical barriers for people to experience something unique and cultural.”

   d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: Social media reach of 3.6 million

   e) Impact of the campaign:

  • Zero Dollar Campaign
  • 95% of bookers for the campaign experiences were India origin guests; with India becoming the No. 1 traffic driver for experiences in Airbnb APAC region in the campaign launch week
  • A sharp spike of 150% Product Detail Page views from India origin viewers
  • All-time daily high tracked from India origin users for bookings
  • Celebrity sessions sold out within 48 hours


8) Strategic Partners Group

  a) Campaign: Mission Medicine: Delivering Life

  b) Client: Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance

  c) Objective: “Amidst the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic, D Yellow Elephant (Part of Strategic Partners Group) along with the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance created a campaign that showcased the technical expertise as well as the emotional drivers behind medicines i.e. the pharmaceutical industry. DYE (Part of Strategic Partners Group) conceptualised and planned an integrated (PR & Digital) campaign – Mission Medicine: Delivering Life. The campaign celebrated the unseen heroes, not only doctors but also those behind the scenes involved in the supply chain – a tribute to all the pharmaceutical workers - researchers, technicians, manufacturing workers, transporters, distributors, pharmacists, and other support functions, as they work tirelessly to ensure that medicines reach us all on time, in the toughest of times. The campaign was driven through a series of videos entailing the stories that shed light on the challenges faced by the pharma employees – right from manufacturers to logisticians and pharmacists as a result of the lockdown. The idea of the campaign was to create an emotional connect while making people understand how we are connected through medicines, depicting that each house has that ‘Chhota sa dibba’ (medicine box) which has been saving lives. The campaign surpassed its targeted reach with over 2.2 Million video views across all our social media channels and close to 3 Million impressions across Facebook & Instagram.”

   d) Engagement numbers/social media reach:

      Campaign Outcomes – Digital:

  • 2.2 Million+ video views across all our social media channels
  • 2.2 Million+ impressions across YouTube, LinkedIn & Twitter
  • Close to 3 Million impressions across Facebook & Instagram

   e) Impact of the campaign:

  Campaign Outcomes – PR:

  • Media interaction facilitated with The Times of India (Print) and The Economic Times (Print)
  • Panel Discussion with India Today Group (Multi-Channel Amplification)
    • India Today TV - 1934K viewers per week
    • Amplified on India Today YouTube &Twitter - Total digital impressions – 10 Mn
    • Covered in Mail Today (print) and indiatoday.in (online) platforms as well - Total readership – 42 Mn

Won three awards at Campaign India PR Awards 2020 for Best Use of Content, Best Use of Video and Integrated Marketing.

Film 1-

Film 2-

9) Media Mantra

    a) Campaign: A Silver Lining for the Digital Content

    b) Client: Bolo Indya

    C) Objective: "The primary campaign focus has been to position Bolo Indya as the largest home-grown social networking platform. The Chinese apps ban imposed by the government of India posed itself as a boon that allowed wider brand dominance in all industry discussions. Soon, Bolo Indya started getting recognized as one of the top alternatives of the Chinese app TikTok.  Another significant facet involved popularizing ‘Bolo Meet’ which is a monetization platform where content creators can sell their services which was covered across 150+ publications wherein the focus here had been on empowering women content creators."

   d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: Through active positioning & an integrated PR approach, the platform observed more than 180 million videos being created in over 14 languages on the platform while garnering over 450+ media articles across CAT A & B media publications. In the last 6 months of association, they have grown 8X and are expected to have a 15X business growth by March 2021.

   e) Impact of the campaign: Consistent financial media targeting also enabled the brand’s presence amidst the investor circles wherein they were able to raise pre-series A funding twice during the duration.

10) First Partners

   a) Campaign: Click to Buy- revolutionizing Contactless Future Retail Experience

   b) Client: Hyundai Motor India

   c) Objective:  "Car buying in India holds an emotional value for buyers. The process is no less than a family celebration where each member’s opinion matters. They go together for test drives, look at the car, click pictures and interact with the sales executive until their last question or doubt is cleared.

According to ‘Capgemini COVID-19 & Automotive Consumer’report, 70% of customers would avoid physical visits to compare financing and deals and over 50% of car purchase inquiries were from digital sources. At the same time, consumers’ interest in personal mobility increased 80% for new cars and 20% for used cars - due to heightened awareness and the need for sanitized commuting options. The survey indicated that more than 85% of consumers who were willing to make car purchases were not keen to step out to a dealership.

As a technology innovator and leader Hyundai’s responded to offer customers a safe and secure option for car buying by optimizing the digital medium strategically. Accordingly, India’s first seamless, convenient and safe end-to-end car purchase platform: Click to Buy (CTB) was launched. An industry first, Hyundai’s CTB was the only platform, where the entire journey of car purchase, from enquiry to the final purchase, including bank loan approval process could be completed digitally.

Communications positioned Click to Buy as an innovation, which was the need of the hour, and ensured strong media voice emanating from virtual website tours along with positive amplification from influencers and twitterati."

   d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: The platform generated 1.5 million visitors across India

   e) Impact of the campaign: The platform led to an overwhelming 1900 bookings in one month and 20,000 unique enquiries in the period from March to June 2020.

11) Six Degrees BCW

    a) Campaign: Covid-19 relief program

    b) Client: PepsiCo India

    c) Objective: "In support of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the Nation to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, PepsiCo India, along with its global food and beverage company’s philanthropic arm, the PepsiCo Foundation, stepped up and extended its support to the ongoing efforts of the government to fight Covid-19. Understanding the challenges of the underserved communities which were grappling with the impact of Covid-19, PepsiCo India went an extra mile in support of the nation and launched its ‘Covid-19 Relief Program.’ Under this initiative, the company provided over 10 million meals to support impacted families. The meal distribution drive was a part of PepsiCo’s #GiveMealsGiveHope global program. Additionally, the company also extended its support to the healthcare and diagnostic facilities, supplementing their efforts to combat the pandemic by providing 35,000 COVID-19 testing kits."

    d) Engagement numbers/ social media reach: With over 25+ on ground flag offs done by Ministers and Bureaucrats, the initiative was covered by media across 28 cities and garnered 431 million media impressions from 220+ earned media clips. Online impressions through owned channels harvested over 151 million impressions with 58 endorsements from key stakeholders. 32+ tweets were generated from industry bodies and associations appreciating PepsiCo India’s initiative with 20+ endorsements from the ministers.

   e)Impact of the campaign: PepsiCo India partnered with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Foundation and non-governmental foundations such as Smile Foundation and Akshaya Patra Foundation, to provide 10 million meals across 8 Indian states namely Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Furthermore, in pursuance of sustaining tests throughout the country, the company partnered with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to support the scale up of India’s COVID-19 testing capacity. Over 35,000 testing kits were provided to public and private frontline healthcare laboratories across India.

On the sidelines, in partnership with Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), a not for profit organization, PepsiCo India ran a relief intervention program and delivered life-saving assistance to people worst affected by cyclone Amphan, in West Bengal. As part of the partnership, SEEDS provided 3,75,000 meals, 1000 hygiene kits and 80 water filters for safe water access to the community members in East Medinipur, Howrah, Kolkata, and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal.

To further demonstrate commitment and solidarity with the company’s initiative; all the employees of PepsiCo India gave up a day’s salary, resulting in a contribution of over 3 million more meals to the program.


12) Kaizzen

    a) Campaign - Ready for Sport

    b) Client - adidas India

    c) Objective: "Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, adidas wanted to ensure that the community stays hopeful, with its “READY FOR SPORT” Campaign. The campaign used the unifying spirit of sport to inspire and motivate, as the world looked to re-entering physical spaces of sport; whether streets, stadiums or stores. ‘Ready for Sport’ campaign was a part of adidas’ response to the COVID-19 global relief efforts to collect funds for the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. 

This was the first time that adidas launched a campaign solely through its internal community of employees.  Since the campaign launched in March this year, adidas has engaged over 3,000 athletes and artists to support the hearts, minds and bodies of the community. With a 300% spike in social conversation following the announcement that team sports would be returning."

    d) Impact of the campaign

  • Total Exposures - 600+
  • More than 60k Indian participated in the HomeTeam Heroes Challenge making India stand at the 7th position globally.

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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