MUMBAI: Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has indicated it will allow external advertisers to use Kan Khajura Tesan, the successful and award-winning channel it has developed to promote its brands across remoter parts of India.

"In the journey of taking Kan Khajura Tesan forward as an ever growing marketing platform we are now opening it up for brands beyond HUL's own," a company spokesman told the Economic Times.

"This will allow the platform to grow and help marketers reach out to media-dark consumers who were difficult to reach before."

The platform essentially operates as a radio station for mobile: in villages where traditional media are non-existent or unreliable, mobile owners can, via a missed call, access an entertainment channel which also carries ads for HUL brands such as Lux or Fair & Lovely.

Since its launch in October 2013, Kan Khajura Tesan has gained 35m subscribers across India, supplied 900m minutes of consumer engagement in media-dark regions and enabled ads for HUL products to be heard 45m times. Refinements to the station mean it can also now push personalised content as dictated by user preferences.

Kan Khajura Tesan was named the best marketing strategy in the world in this year's Warc 100 and at last week's Cannes festival it won a Bronze Lion in the Creative Effectiveness Awards.

At a Cannes panel session hosted by Warc, Anaheeta Goenka, executive director at Lowe Lintas + Partners which co-created the campaign, explained that as the target audience had to dial a number on their phones to access the channel, getting people to remember this number was the sole focus of the campaign's advertising.

"The challenge to us was to use popular culture to make the number unique and sticky," she said. "So we created a character – the 'Kan Khajura', an insect – with the number spelled out on its body. And the character went everywhere."

Kan Khajura Tesan is already the biggest radio station in Bihar and with non-HUL brands being permitted to use it the FMCG giant is emerging as a de facto media owner.

Details of which brands will be airing ads and the deals on offer are yet to be revealed. The spokesman only said that "the nature of the tie-ups will be on a case-to-case basis as per the requirement of the partnering brands".

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff