We all have our favorite memories of summer, but we're more inclined to forget the rather less pleasant thought of mosquito bites that might come with those adventures. I fondly recall summer a camp deep in the woods of Wisconsin, from which I would return home with arms full of craft projects... and legs that were completely destroyed from compulsively scratching bug bites. In fact, the winged blood-suckers may well be the most universally despised creatures on earth—some ecologists believe we do away with them with no ecological consequences—so anyone can appreciate this innovation from Sri Lanka's Mawbima newspaper and ad agency Leo Burnett. But for many across the world, appreciation is an understatement, since a mosquito bite can mean much more than a temporary inconvenience on an otherwise healthy body.
For the 2014 World Health Day, the publication printed the world's first mosquito-repelling newspaper, adding citronella scent to the newspaper's ink. It's a far more elegant way to deliver insect repellent than the chemical-laden sprays we're used to... and it keeps citizens informed about current events to boot.
The alphabetic branding behind the mosquito-repelling project
The scented newspaper ink is indicated by an intriguing graphic identity—even for those of us outside of its impact zone—featuring mosquitoes being smashed behind each character of the local Sinhalese script. The newspaper shared the illustrated vernacular over National Dengue Week and on Facebook previous to the citronella newspaper run. Check out this video from Leo Burnett on the entire project:
The project is aimed specifically at preventing Dengue fever, which affected 30,000 people in 2013, according to a write-up on Creative Roots. Prior to rolling out the scented paper, the team covered local bus shelters in citronella'd posters promoting the big debut for the following day. They also included information on Dengue fever in the citronella newspaper and promotional materials.
A citronella'd bus stop in Sri Lanka
Like the drinkable book we covered a while back, this is a clever design solution to a widespread problem. And not only did it help keep readers safe from deadly mosquitoes, the newspaper also benefited, attracting a wider audience while repelling the vampiric pests:Tthe citronella issue sold out by 10am and helped contribute to a 30 percent kick in sales overall and a 300,000 increase in readership. Maybe IBM business tycoon Thomas J. Watson was on to something with his insight, "Good design is good business."