The other side of the 'coin': Grey fights back with new campaign

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising
Last updated : November 08, 2006
Faced with RBI disapproval for its one rupee campaign for the Mumbai Railway Police, Grey Worldwide has given in gracefully and come up with an extension of its original idea

Grey Worldwide

got into a bit of a sticky situation recently when it crafted an anti-terrorism campaign for the Mumbai Railway Police as a logical next step to the 'Mumbai Unbreakable' campaign (rolled out, incidentally, after the 7/11 serial train blasts).

The Grey Worldwide campaign was titled 'Operation Citizen Alert' and revolved around an initiative to encourage Mumbaikars to be more aware of suspicious persons and baggage and thus ward off terrorism. The campaign involved placing more than 1,000 one rupee coins in and around railway stations and in trains. The coins carried a message on one side: 'If you are as alert to unattended baggage, lives can be saved. Mumbai Railway Police'. The message was printed in four languages - Hindi, English, Gujarati and Marathi.

While the campaign was executed with good intentions, when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) learnt of it from media reports, it advised the Mumbai Railway Police and Grey Worldwide to discontinue the campaign.

The front and back sides of the coin RBI spokesperson Alpana Killawalla tells agencyfaqs!, "We have always tried to discourage the misuse of national currency in any manner. There's no law which prohibits this. Perhaps the Indian Flags Act is the only one which is vaguely connected here. Roughly, the Act states that there should be no writing/ messages on instruments of national honour. As a coin, too, is an instrument of national honour, we appealed to the Mumbai Railway Police to discontinue the campaign on moral grounds, if not legal." Killawalla stresses that the RBI respects the sentiment behind the campaign.

Following the RBI's request, Ramrao Pawar, Mumbai's deputy commissioner of police, confirmed the withdrawal of the coin campaign. "There were absolutely no problems on the legal front," he tells agencyfaqs!. "The RBI advised us not to use coins in this manner, and as our moral duty, we have in turn, stalled the campaign."

When Raj Kurup, regional creative director, Grey Worldwide, was contacted, he was quite unperturbed. "Firstly, the coins were not defaced in any way. We added a temporary sticker atop the coin, one which comes off easily," he says. "Besides, if one puts a message like the one we did on the coin, it becomes priceless." He adds that the campaign was no publicity stunt, just an initiative in the interest of national security.

A railway commuter discovers the coin To put an end to the controversy, a solution was finally worked out last evening. The campaign will now take on a broader role. The sticker will now be placed on other objects which look expensive, but aren't so in reality - for instance, a fake ring or an expensive looking perfume bottle. "Such items generate greed amongst people, which was our core idea in the first place," says Kurup.

The objects will be placed in and around railway stations and, unlike the coins, will carry an additional message: They will appeal to Mumbaikars to carry on the legacy of the thought to save Mumbai from terror by placing the object elsewhere to spread the message further.

Stickers will also be distributed in railway stations, inviting Mumbaikars to come up with innovative suggestions on what other objects can carry the sticker. They will be asked to send in photos, demonstrating how a particular object can be used to raise awareness against terrorism, with perhaps some incentives for the best entries. But all of this is still in the ideation stage.

Let's hope that the new initiative 'coined' by Grey Worldwide (no pun intended) doesn't ruffle any feathers this time around.

2006 agencyfaqs!

First Published : November 08, 2006
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© 2006 agencyfaqs!