GLOBAL – A mobile service for ‘media dark’ rural Indians has scooped the Grand Prix in the 2014 Warc Prize for Asian Strategy.

Warc, the marketing intelligence service, awarded the $5,000 Grand Prix cash prize to ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’, an initiative for Hindustan Unilever developed by Lowe Lintas & Partners and PHD, at an event in Singapore on Thursday evening. The campaign also won the $1,250 Asia First Special Award, for insight the rest of the world can learn from.

Three other campaigns picked up Special Awards, each of which came with a cash prize of $1,250. Judges decided not to award the Special Award for Research Excellence, as no paper stood out in this area. A total of 19 papers, from a shortlist of 40, won Gold, Silver and Bronze awards.

The Grand Prix-winning paper was authored by Anaheeta Goenka and Deepa Geethakrishnan of Lowe Lintas & Partners. Their case study described how Hindustan Unilever had set up a mobile 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 8 million unique users in six months.

For Goenka and Geethakrishnan, the awards are a reiteration of the fact that no matter how small or simple an idea be, the true measure of its success is the change it brings about in the marketplace. 

Sharing their thoughts, they said, “This win is a crucial milestone of the global journey of creative effectiveness for Kan Khajura Tesan. From Europe to the US to now Asia. The WARC win further demonstrates that ‘solving real problems for real people’ is what the industry celebrates, in any part of the world. We are humbled and delighted by the honour conferred on us, by some of the best in the world.”

Meanwhile, Joseph George, CEO, Lowe Lintas + Partners India said, “KKT is a true innovation where a business problem was addressed with a platformic solution. The recognition it continues to amass at a global scale is a great testament to Lowe Lintas’ culture of creative effectiveness. The first Grand Prix for India at WARC makes it a little more sweeter.”

“The Kan Khajura paper was a clear winner,” said Freddy Bharucha, Chief Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble Asia and Chairman of Judges for the 2014 Prize. “The reason is that it started with the consumer. How do you reach and engage a consumer who does not see most of the media that are out there? The results were very strong, but it all started with a rich media insight that led to the creation of a media platform. It allowed the brand to engage consumers in a very entertaining way.”

Now in its fourth year, the Prize received 186 entries in 2014, a record high for the competition. India was the lead market among the winners, with eight of the 19 winning entries originating from the market.

“This year the spread of entries, in terms of the companies entering, the markets represented, and the types of activity being discussed, was wider than ever,” said David Tiltman, Warc’s Head of Content. “That’s a sign of the growing importance of smart strategic thinking within Asian marketing.”

The Prize was judged by 20 senior client-side marketers and agency-side strategy experts. View the full list of winners here.