By Naurin Jahan Rinta
The coronavirus induced lockdown posed multiple challenges before publishers. The decline of community engagement and lack of human interactions were two main stumble blocks many of them faced. But on a more positive note, ‘every crisis is a new opportunity’. The crisis offered publishers the scope to get more creative and to find ways to engage their audience on the digital platform. That’s what The Daily Star, the largest English daily in Bangladesh, did during the lockdown period through a campaign called “Bondhutte Bondi” (Locked by Friendship).
‘Bondhutte Bondi’ is a digital campaign initiated by The Daily Star to celebrate International Friendship Day. The Daily Star partnered with two regional brands in the digital sphere – Pathao and ShopUp. The core idea of the campaign was to bring the netizens in Bangladesh to a single platform through storytelling and to celebrate friendship in the online sphere.
The countrywide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, had forced everyone to stay indoors. With the closure of educational institutions, offices and public places, physical interactions were restricted. Social interactions were limited for months. However, people found new online alternatives to rediscover and maintain their friendships. Activities like video calls, chit chat during online classes, sharing new recipes, online games and 10-days challenges became the new norm.
The campaign “Bondhutte Bondi” was introduced with the idea of celebrating this newness in our friendship we have experienced during the lockdown and spread it to every corner of the country through storytelling. A microsite was created for the campaign where participants shared their own funny and memorable stories of their virtual friendship moments. People could vote online for their favourite stories and 10 winners were selected based on public votes. The winners received gifts from the sponsors which were delivered at their doorsteps. Several wonderful and inspirational stories came out through this campaign – a few friends starting a new online business during the lockdown, fundraising programmes for COVID-19 affected people, a group of friends teaching underprivileged children, and many more.
The Friendship Map
The microsite had a unique feature called the “Friendship Map”. As COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc, several regions in the country were being marked as “Red Zone”. The campaign aimed to spread positivity among people during this period of anxiety.
A digital map of Bangladesh was created in the microsite with 64 districts of Bangladesh. A district-selection option was given to those who participated in the campaign. With every participation, one “heart symbol” was added to the district from where they came. Within a few days, the map was filled with heart symbols, a symbol of friendship spread across the country. This delivered the core message of the campaign, that no matter where we are, we are bound by friendship.
The campaign has exemplified the power of user-generated-content and leveraged the digital sphere for a unique way of community engagement. It gave the readers a platform to share their emotions and an opportunity to create a national impact through their stories.
The campaign has been awarded a bronze medal in the South Asian Digital Media Awards 2020 in the category “Best in Audience Engagement”.
To know more about the campaign, click here.
About the author: Naurin Jahan Rinta is Brand Marketing Executive at The Daily Star, Bangladesh.