SINGAPORE: A mobile service operated by Hindustan Unilever for 'media dark' rural Indians has won the Grand Prix in the 2014 Warc Prize for Asian Strategy, which was awarded at an event in Singapore last night.

The 'Kan Khajura Tesan' campaign, developed by Lowe Lintas & Partners and PHD, stood out for the judges, with chairman Freddy Bharucha, CMO of Procter & Gamble Asia, describing it as "a clear winner".

A paper penned by Anaheeta Goenka and Abhijit Panicker of Lowe Lintas & Partners outlined how the FMCG business set up a platform based on missed calls – consumers phoned a number, then would be called back and played 15 minutes of entertainment content, interspersed with ads for the company's brands. The service gained 24 million calls and eight million unique users in six months.

"The results were very strong, but it all started with a rich media insight that led to the creation of a media platform," said Bharucha. "It allowed the brand to engage consumers in a very entertaining way."

This campaign, one of five gold winners, picked up not only the $5,000 Grand Prix but also the Asia First Special Award, worth $1,250, for insight the rest of the world can learn from.

In all, a total of 19 papers, from a shortlist of 40, won Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. Judges decided not to award the Special Award for Research Excellence, as no paper stood out in this area. The full list can be seen on the Prize website.

The other gold winners included two from China. 'Your thinking DNA' from online news provider NetEase attracted readers by challenging them not to blindly follow state-approved news sources. This case study also won the Market Pioneer Special Award.

And, with 'Scandal Shave', shaving brand Gillette orchestrated a celebrity scandal to revive its fortunes in that country.

In the Philippines, baby-care brand Pampers 'ZZZ' created a 'white noise' radio station to help give mothers and babies a good night's sleep, a campaign that also won the Channel Strategy Award.

The Akanksha Foundation, an Indian education-based non-profit, tackled illiteracy using celebrity endorsements on Twitter. This case study also won the Local Hero Special Award.

David Tiltman, Warc's Head of Content, remarked on the diversity of entries to this year's competition, which attracted a record 186 entries, with eight of the 19 winners coming from India.

"The spread of entries, in terms of the companies entering, the markets represented, and the types of activity being discussed, was wider than ever," he said. "That's a sign of the growing importance of smart strategic thinking within Asian marketing."

Data sourced from Warc