TIME vaccines

Lessons From the Campaign That Vaccinated 100 Million Mothers

The joy any parent feels when their child is born is one of life’s most precious moments. It is heartbreaking that every nine minutes a baby dies of maternal neonatal tetanus, or MNT. What’s surprising is that this disease is entirely preventable with a simple vaccination. Over the past 8 years, we have made tremendous strides, vaccinating over 100 million mothers around the world.

Having already eliminated MNT in 14 countries, we remain committed to continuing our efforts until we truly eliminate this fatal disease. Today, many companies are actively engaged in corporate social responsibility, but very few have been able to rival the success of 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine. A major reason for the success is the direct link between our consumers and those in need of help around the world. Families purchasing Pampers understand the direct impact they’re having on another family. The Pampers products are specially marked with UNICEF’s logo, so that consumers understand that their purchase is truly making a difference. While corporate social responsibility programs do make for good press, it’s the one’s that enable consumers to use their buying power that can be the most successful.

This particular initiative is both UNICEF’s and Procter & Gamble’s largest public-private cause-marketing program. On a recent trip to Asia, we learned we’re on the cusp of hitting a major goal: completely eliminating MNT in Indonesia. We have donated 1.2 million vaccines in that country, helping protect 400,000 mothers and children. To date, 30 out of 33 Indonesian Provinces have eliminated MNT. We are aiming to fully eliminate it in Indonesia by 2015. But with our goals, come challenges.

While the goal of 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine was always clear, how it would be implemented was not. As we have learned along the way, patience is a virtue. After some initial challenges, here’s how we’ve been doing it: At UNICEF we are able to identify teams of individuals who know how to work in remote areas of the world, and in some of the most challenging circumstances. At Pampers, we are able to reach the consumers who can provide the funding for our campaign through their regular purchases. As a result, we have generated $50 million to date, which has covered the cost of the personnel associated with the operation, and the vaccines themselves.

We truly believe one reason this program has been successful is because UNICEF has helped established a community base that has been set up to deliver the lifesaving vaccines themselves, no matter how remote the area is. We have gone to great lengths to explain the vaccination process, from the minute the vaccine is ready to administer, to its delivery, to any follow up that patients may need. Only the locals themselves can fully understand a community’s customs, religions and cultural sensitivities which later play an important part in educating the new mothers to the crucial need of having their babies immunized.

Pampers will continue to sell specially marked products to fund this campaign. But the lessons we have learned can certainly be applied to other companies looking to start or develop similar campaigns. Consumers have shown, year after year, that they’re committed to helping others around the world. Many of the fastest growing companies happen to be some of the most well-known for their corporate social responsibility efforts. This is a trend that we expect to continue for years to come, providing both an opportunity for businesses and consumers alike.

In our particular mission, our success has stemmed from the strategic fit between the mission, vision and brand equity of both partners; UNICEF’s mission to promote “survival, protection and development of children” with Pampers vision for “caring for the healthy, happy development of every baby.” But with so many challenges afflicting communities around the world, from diseases, to malnutrition, to violence and war there is a need for everyone to do more.

We ask that consumers take a moment to consider their purchasing decisions. Are you supporting brands that are making a positive difference in the lives of others? Are they producing their products in a sustainable way? If not, we encourage you to seek out a brand that does more—for you and the world that we share.

[Updated 6/4/14]

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