say, is a smart thing to do. Especially when it comes to taboo subjects, because it opens doors and eases the hesitance between people. To transform words into action, one needs to talk even more. The BBC World Service Trust, the charitable arm of BBC which specialises in development communications, has launched a four phase campaign to push men to talk more and more about a taboo subject.
To be run over a period of two and a half years, the media mix for the project consists of TV, radio and cinema, supported by billboards and print. The first phase of the campaign, called Jo Bola Wohi Sikander (JBWS), is under way and the BBC World Service Trust is strategically making attempts to generate interest, compel the target group to take action, and thereby create awareness about the taboo subject. The JBWH contest will run between November 30 and December 20, 2007, and will be seen in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
The TVC has been dubbed in five Indian languages, including Hindi, depending upon the state in which the contest runs. Audiences will be given a local number to call up and leave their answers on - the lucky winners will receive a mobile phone with free talk time.
Radharani Mitra, creative director, BBC World Service Trust, says, "The strength of the creative idea behind the campaign is that instead of an ad that tells people to talk, it actually stimulates people to talk. We believe the riddle posed in the advertisements is sufficiently enticing and tricky that people will have to talk about it with their friends in order to arrive at the answer."
The TVC shows a young executive walking in a deserted lane. All of a sudden, some roughs attempt to rob him. Outnumbered, the man outwits his attackers by pulling out a placard which entices the "men" to show their mettle by talking out loud and clear. The ruffians are directed to call a telephone number and enter a quiz contest. A parrot, which represents talk and smartness, has been chosen as the campaign's mascot. The parrot is smart, pesky, has an opinion about everything and a sense of humour. He further entices the target group to talk and show their smartness, too.
It would be unfair to give away the subject of the contest. Suffice it to say that the contest promotes a social cause. It talks about a taboo subject that is a serious public health concern in the four participating states, the reason why the campaign will be run only in these states. According to a research study undertaken by the BBC World Service Trust, the more men talk about these private matters, the more likely they are to make smart and responsible choices related to their health. So far, the campaign has received 244,474 responses through calls.
The campaign is produced by the BBC World Service Trust and funded through a £3.5 million (US$5.9 million) grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Over the last six years, the BBC World Service Trust has been successfully implementing health campaigns in India. It has produced two weekly television serials for Doordarshan, a drama called Jasoos Vijay and a reality show called Haath Se Haath Milaa, which featured more than 40 Hindi film stars, and launched more than 30 public service advertisements.