MTN’s General Manager Corporate Affairs Enid Edroma has explained MTN’s intentions and observations of the #WearItForMe mask wearing awareness campaign.
The initiative that was set up to run throughout the month of September, has been hinged on the influence of mothers on their children and society as a whole.
In an extended interview with MTN media, Enid talks up MTN’s choices with regard to focus on Masks and Mothers, the telecom giant’s motivation, plus how long the campaign will last.
Q. Tell us about the new #WearItForMe mask campaign that MTN launched last week.
A. #WearItForMe is the next phase in MTN’s COVID-19 response under its Y’ello Hope umbrella programme, which has been set up to provide much-needed support during times of societal need and aims to create a better outcome for all we serve.
That said, the #WearitforMe campaign is a call to action for all the people in the countries within which we operate to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus through wearing face masks, which has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of this deadly virus that has ravaged nations since the beginning of this year.
This campaign is running across all the 21 MTN markets in Africa and Middle East. I would like to clearly state that although the #wearItForMe mask campaign that is running under MTN’s Y’ello Hope focuses primarily on the importance of wearing a mask, MTN is by no means advocating that this is the only action needed to win the war against COVID-19.
Q. We have observed that MTN is using mothers to drive the wearing of masks. Why mothers?
A. It is a well-known fact that mothers have great potential to inspire behavioral change in society. Many people will listen to what their mothers have to say. There has been a general reluctance by many people to observe SOPs since the lockdown was lifted which is dangerous for us as a nation. So we thought let’s bring in the mothers to drive this much needed change in behavior among the children of.
Q. What motivated MTN to develop this campaign?
A. Since government lifted the lockdown, people have gone about their lives with great abandon. Most of them neither wear masks, nor observe social distance and washing hands has been forgotten.
As a result, we have started seeing the number of infections growing in the community. We have also witnessed some deaths. This negates the gains we had made as a nation in the beginning of this pandemic.
So as the number one corporate citizen in Uganda, we felt that we should add our voice to already existing efforts from government and other organisations, hence the #WearItForMe campaign. Like I mentioned, this campaign has been launched across the MTN footprint in Africa and the Middle East.
Q. Why the Masks and not any other intervention.
A. There is increasing evidence, from WHO indicating that masks can prevent the spread of the virus, there are equally a number of reports and surveys that reveal that many people still refuse to wear masks, wear them incorrectly, or feel they are not important.
As such, through this campaign, MTN is encouraging every individual to wear a mask at all times when in public spaces. In addition to wearing the mask, we are encouraging everyone to still observe the other SOPs such as social distancing, hand washing or sanitizing and only leaving home when extremely necessary. That is why most of our staff are still working from home.
Q. Isn’t this campaign rather late, considering that there are already infections at community level?
A. We are of the view that it is not too late to reinforce the message around the importance of masks as many countries in Africa are predicted to potentially see a peak in infections starting this month.
In addition, there is also growing concern about the risk of a second wave of infections, so now would not be the time to be complacent.With infection rates predicted to reach a peak by September 2020, MTN felt that it is now more important than ever to put the weight of the brand behind driving this much- needed change in behaviour at the onset of September.
It was for this reason we chose a single-minded approach that focuses on the importance of wearing a mask and doing what is right during this time to save lives. The campaign messaging does, however,
make it clear that wearing a mask is not the only preventative measure needed to flatten 0the curve and accelerate recovery.
Q. How long will this campaign last and what happens after that?
A. The campaign will run for a month. That’s the whole month of September. Meaning, MTN as a company will only communicate the importance of wearing masks in the fight against Coronavirus. This isn’t the first time we have complemented government efforts in the fight against this pandemic.
When government announced the first COVID 19 case in Uganda, we introduced a number of interventions. For instance, we slashed any fees relating to sending of Mobile money of any amount. This was to reduce the need to use cash as it was considered one of the ways in which the pandemic spreads.
We donated three brand new cars to the government task force to ease transportation of logistics. We also partnered with NWSC to put up water points in water stressed areas around kampala and its surroundings. Water is very essential for washing of hands. We zero rated educational websites for both primary and secondary schools as well as universities to enable students continue studying from home.
And to enable people continue working from home, we introduced highly subsidized work from Home internet bundles in addition to our interventions done in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Redcross Society. So this mask campaign is just one of the series of initiatives we have put in place.
I don’t think it will be the last. MTN has introduced an umbrella organ called Y’ello Hope through which we shall respond to natural disasters such as COVID 19. So expect MTN to come up with other initiatives depending on the need at the time.
Q. We understand that you are putting all of your marketing resources behind this campaign. Can you explain in real terms what that means?
A. That’s right. Throughout the month of September, we as MTN shall not run any of our commercial adverts pushing products. MTN is dedicating all its TV, Radio, social media, print and outdoor resources towards pushing the wear the mask campaign. As you can imagine, that is in excess of shs1billion that we are dedicating towards driving this communication.
Q. What are your last remarks?
A. I would like to remind everyone that Corona virus is a real threat to our lives and livelihoods. MTN as a corporate citizen cares for the lives of everyone wherever it operates. It is against this background that we have dedicated all our efforts and leveraged our brand strength, and reach to encourage everyone to prevent the spread of the virus by wearing a mask and also observing the other SOPs.
We believe that Together we can all fight Corona virus.