A behavior change communication (BCC) campaign in Bangladesh designed and implemented by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Purpulewood, a results-based marketing agency in Bangladesh that specializes in behavior change communications, received a major marketing boost from the government in its efforts to increase use of cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels.

Under Bangladesh’s Power Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources, the Sustainable Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) leveraged the country’s extensive telecom network to reach out to 15 million people across the country, encouraging them to learn more about clean cooking.  Sent across Bangladesh’s SMS system, the messages included a phone number and Facebook page to learn more.

“SREDA is actively working with Alliance to achieve Bangladesh’s target of making all kitchens smoke free by 2030. We plan to continue supporting the campaign through SMS marketing and other activities, in order to build awareness around clean cooking,” Siddique Zobair, Member, SREDA

The widespread availability of mobile phones in Bangladesh makes SMS technology an ideal platform to reach a wide audience, including traditionally poor and underserved populations, with important information on health products and services. Mass SMS messages are sent via the Bangladesh Telecommunication regulatory Authority (BTRC), a government body under which all telecoms operate.

BTRC officials said at least 15 million SMS messages were sent all over the country, resulting in a huge boost in Facebook activity and the call center. Each SMS is valued at around 30 to 40 cents, making the first send worth roughly $75,000 USD. SREDA plans to send the same message a few more times during the campaign.

One of the government’s messages read: “To protect the health of our Mothers, there’s no better alternative than a Modern Cookstove. It’s portable, uses less wood, and emits less smoke.”  The message was accompanied with a telephone number and Facebook link to receive more information.

Asna Towfiq, the Bangladesh Market Manager for the Alliance, said the campaign only planned a small budget for SMS marketing, but when she approached SREDA for support, she was happily surprised by their offer to send an SMS to the entire subscriber list.

“This investment was a huge and unexpected boost for the campaign,” Towfiq said. “We are encouraged to see SREDA and the Government of Bangladesh show their commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of their people by promoting cleaner and more efficient cookstoves.”

Targeting households in peri-urban areas of Dhaka and Khulna, the campaign seeks to leverage people’s aspirations to be more “modern” by using the tagline “Times have changed, change your stove.” Other campaign activities are focused at the community level and include a range of communication channels and techniques, including screenings of a dramatic film via mobile cinema, street theater, stove demonstrations, home visits where information and videos are shared via interactive tablets, and outdoor advertising on rickshaws and tea shops.