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Case study: RB Innovation Hack

Building RB's corporate reputation as an innovation-led company

Published: 13 Jan 2018

RB Innovation Hack

Client: RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser)

Agency: Virgo Health

Campaign: RB Innovation Hack

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

This wasn’t going to be just any campaign. It had serious ambition. RB wanted Virgo to help it inspire the world by showing how it tackles meaningful health challenges with something practical and cause-related. The RB Innovation Hack achieved widespread media coverage, with 34 print and online articles and a successful social media campaign, with 173 uses of #RBInnovationHack and a reach of 680,000. What’s more, RB was so pleased with the outcomes that it decided to make the Hack an annual feature at Cannes.


RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser) wanted to build its corporate reputation as an innovation-led company and a partner of choice. While R&D at RB plays a key role in this, not enough people know about the incredible work that this team does. So it set the Virgo Health team a challenge.

“We want more people to know about our commitment to developing safe, science- based, consumer-preferred innovations that help consumers lead healthier lives and have happier homes. And because we’re proud to be different, we want to tell them about our unique, collaborative approach to research and development. We want to build a strong corporate reputation to keep attracting exceptional people to join our global R&D organisation.”


Virgo had a big idea - help RB solve a global health problem. It would assemble and challenge teams to tackle the world’s largest environmental health risk - air pollution - in an innovation challenge like no other. It would choose a high profile healthcare setting that would attract the attention of the industry’s finest R&D and creative minds, and create a dramatic event to engage the media and make the worldwide RB community feel proud and excited about innovation in action.

Virgo partnered RB with Lions Health and Save the Children to create the RB Innovation Hack, a showcase event at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Health, entertainment and innovation are the focus of the festival - a perfect match with RB’s R&D culture and campaign goals.


Over two days in June 2016, the live 24-hour hackathon brought together RB’s R&D and marketing people with creative and entrepreneurial minds from other leading organisations around the world.

It formed three teams. The teams’ mission: to pioneer blockbuster innovations that could protect children’s lungs from the devastating effects of air pollution exposure in India, where levels are among the highest in the world. It all kicked off with a meet-and-greet session, followed by an inspiring creative workshop - and then the teams went to work. They presented their ideas to a high profile judging panel and a packed audience at the Cannes Lions festival. Each member of the winning team was awarded a prestigious Lions Health trophy.

The multi-disciplinary teams came up with some truly innovative ideas. AIRbrush-It antipollution technology was a paint that traps air pollutants. It could be applied to buses and the walls of buildings to remove particulate matter and so improve air quality. Another team proposed a baby pacifier with a filter to minimise the inhalation of pollutants.

The jury’s winning vote went to a musical instrument that could strengthen children’s lungs by introducing them to a new, healthy habit, with its campaign call for ‘The Sound of Healthy Lungs’.

Client verdict

“As a mother of two and living in Delhi, my family and I experience the pressing threat of air pollution on a daily basis. The RB & Lions Health Innovation Hack represents another opportunity for our partnership with RB to make a real difference to children’s lives. Since 2003, our collaboration has reached over 1.6 million children and we are delighted to be involved in this activity that could help us reach millions more. We are proud to be pioneering the ways in which the private sector and NGOs can work together to accelerate change for children.” Bidisha Pillai, Director of Advocacy, Campaigns and Communication at Save the Children India and hackathon judge

“The Innovation Hack truly epitomises the way we work at RB R&D. We have continued to see incredible passion, dedication and excitement this year and partnered with many amazing, creative and analytical minds to drive a purpose-led product innovation. Virgo Health delivered our core aim of having an impact during the event and also through social/traditional media. The campaign has been a true success.” Sejal Sachdev, R&D Innovation Partnerships Manager

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