Company: Mawbima (published by Ceylon Newspapers)

Agencies:  Leo Burnett Sri Lanka (Lead agency), Starcom Sri Lanka (Media Agency), ARC Sri Lanka (PR, Events and Activations Agency) 

Market(s): Sri Lanka

Timing: April 4, 2014 – April 7, 2014

In the face of a deadly Dengue epidemic, the Sri Lankan government initiated National Dengue Week. Mass-market newspaper Mawbima set out to do more than just report on the event.


Newspapers are read in the morning and evening — right when the Dengue mosquito strikes. To combat the Dengue epidemic, most media outlets sought to educate the public on how to avoid it. Mawbima decided to give readers a tangible weapon with which to fight it — the newspaper itself: by mixing citronella essence (a natural repellent) with the ink used to print the paper, the paper could be used to kill mosquitoes carrying the deadly virus.


The mosquito-repellent issue of Mawbima was released on World Health Day (April 7). To prepare the public for this special newspaper’s release, the team of agencies coordinated efforts across multiple mediums: print ads, informative articles, digital social media posts, posters printed with mosquito-repellent ink, and prevention patches distributed to schoolchildren all led up to the main event: the publishing of the world’s first mosquito-repelling newspaper.


Ceylon Newspapers (Mawbima’s publisher) took the lead in developing the correct ink/citronella formula through several trials until the ideal solution was found. Leo Burnett . delivered the strategy and idea, working with Mawbima to execute the innovation and develop all of the necessary campaign material. Starcom Worldwide Sri Lanka helped coordinate with the publication to execute the campaign. ARC Worldwide Sri Lanka managed the PR and coordinated activations at bus stands and schools. Due to the extraordinary importance of the issue at hand, all agencies and the client worked closely together to ensure the success of the campaign.


Despite a bigger print run, the paper sold out by 10am (achieving its initial KPI), increasing sales by 30% and educating an additional 300,000 people. Over 90 international media outlets featured the paper. On social media it earned thousands of likes, shares and comments, including one from Bill Gates. The citronella/ink mix has subsequently been shared with other publishers who also wanted to do produce a mosquito-repellent newspaper in their countries.