Half a Million Smiles and Counting

Smile Train India is a children’s charity that focuses on a single but very solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. The organisation wanted to build awareness in India about the seriousness of the issue and the severe economic and social impact on the affected children and their families. The mandate for The PRactice also included building recognition for Smile Train and visibility especially among corporations who wanted to engage in child related CSR activities.

The PRactice team focused on stakeholder and media engagement as well as relationship building activities with key industry organisations. Meetings were arranged between Smile Train and Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), DASRA Philanthropy, ASSOCHAM, FICCI and others to spread awareness about this severe but solvable problem and discuss how the industry could participate in this worthy endeavor. Hospital visits were organised to demonstrate the reality of the issue and interviews with senior management at Smile Train about their efforts and the impact helped develop understanding and urgency.

The campaign also used the digital medium in established and innovative ways. The online presence included communities set up to facilitate fundraising from India. In order to create a strong brand recognition and appeal for Smile Train, the team used a creative and offbeat approach. Evocative photography and narration was used to make the Smile Train story more visually appealing and emotionally impactful. It included an artful association to the Indian Railways to deepen the connection with the audience. Images from this creative project were used across social media and crowdfunding platforms and also in print-based material like newsletters, brochures and advertisements.

The integrated communications approach helped grow awareness about a grievous medical condition, but just as important, it cast a spotlight on the fact that it can be solved with a simple medical procedure. The Smile Train brand reputation enjoyed a solid boost, and ongoing marketing, advertising, celebrity advocacy, along with strengthened PR initiatives are being directed to making Smile Train’s 15th year in India a watershed one.

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