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Vodafone / Parasol Protection

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

Telco protects women in Indian villages with a self-defence umbrella

Vodafone has developed an umbrella that doubles up as a weapon.

The telco’s Self Defense Umbrella was created by Ogilvy Mumbai to protect female Indian villagers collecting money through Vodafone’s M-Pesa transfer service. It looks like an ordinary brolly except it features diagrams showing women how to protect themselves against attackers.

Vodafone created the umbrella after realising that many users of its M-Pesa service are villagers who are forced to leave their families behind when they migrate to larger cities to find work.

Vodafone distributed 200 umbrellas to woman in villages in the Uttar Pradesh province and plans to roll out the project to other provinces including Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab.


Contagious Insight /

Power to you / Female safety is a huge issue in India as reported cases of sexual assault are increasing. Vodafone’s Self Defense Umbrella helps protect Indian women when they are feeling most vulnerable, as they are not only alone without their husbands, but are carrying cash collected from an M-Pesa agent.

This project is low-cost as it only requires Vodafone to manufacture and distribute an ordinary umbrella with a few added drawings. But it has the potential to engender brand loyalty - despite the absence of the Vodafone brand on the umbrella - because it leads both male M-Pesa customers sending money back home, and their wives, to believe that Vodafone is looking out for them.

Understanding a cultural context / Not only has Vodafone has picked up on the fact that its female M-Pesa users might feel unsafe collecting their cash and has found a way to empower them, but it has done so sensitively. The umbrellas don’t look like a weapon at all, even though they can be used as such, so women can carry one without drawing attention to themselves. Moreover, the diagrams are easy to understand even if the women cannot read, which is more than likely: India has the world’s highest population of illiterate adults and 63% of the population can’t read or write.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact