afaqs!

Making India look at its incredible best

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 05, 2009
The Ministry of Tourism has launched a new campaign aimed at foreign nationals to promote India as a favourable travel destination

Global & #BANNER1 & # recession, stock market upheavals and the recent terror attacks in Mumbai - hardly a good time for the Indian tourism industry. To change the outlook, the Ministry of Tourism has launched a global campaign to portray India as a favourable travel destination.

The campaign will be launched in print, television and digital formats. The Ministry of Tourism has empanelled 15 creative agencies to look after the Incredible India brand. Quantum Communications has created four print ads (Culture, Bull Run, Celebration and Unity) for the new campaign, while Stark Communication has created one print ad (Tranquillity).

The television commercial was conceptualised and shot independently by Prakash Verma of Nirvana Films. The digital aspect of the campaign is being handled by Crayons Advertising.

The TVC opens on a shot of a foreigner writing a postcard, fondly remembering his adventures in India - camel rides in the desert, scuba diving in clear blue waters, the royal palaces and the culture and traditions of India.

The film was shot over a period of 35 days across the length and breadth of the country and involved extensive travelling.

The campaign is expected to be released internationally in January 2009. It will not be released in India. Leena Nandan, joint secretary, Ministry of Tourism, says that the campaign is targeted at foreign nationals who are yet to experience the beauty of India. She adds, "We have created the ads keeping in mind the global scenario and we have tried to show how India can cope with the issues it is facing."

The media duties are split regionwise among the agencies working on the Incredible India account. MPG (Media Planning Group) will look after the television duties in the US and the print duties in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Span Communications will look after the television duties in the APAC and the print duties in the US. Crayons will manage the entire European portfolio, and Zenith Optimedia has been assigned the global television and print duties.

Sanjay Rastogi, chief operating officer, Quantum Communications, shares some details about the campaign and says that a quote by Mahatma Gandhi was the inspiration behind the campaign. That's why they decided to use the quote in one of the print ads. Most of the photographs used for the print ads have been sourced from the Ministry of Tourism's personal library and a couple of them, from websites.

He adds that Quantum Communications was given a one-line brief to portray India in a resilient yet resolute manner and to showcase the intrinsic value of the country through the creatives. He says that the copy on the ads will be provided in the local language of non-English speaking countries.

afaqs! spoke to some creative people to figure out whether the ads left them with that incredible patriotic feeling.

Sambit Mohanty, executive creative director, Brand Planet Elephant, feels that the campaign is very similar to earlier campaigns and uses tried and tested imagery such as tigers, Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal.

Mohanty seems to be unimpressed by the print ads and says, "The press campaign appears very disjointed, with no single thought tying it all together. For example, what's the quote by Mahatma Gandhi doing there?" He adds that to make the execution incredible, one should start portraying India in a completely different light.

Jignesh Maniar, founder, Onads Communication, says that most other countries in the world also have mountains, snow, deserts, festivals and beaches and India is not only about landscapes. He says, "India is about the diversity of its people, which is conspicuously missing from the campaign." He adds that India is portrayed in a very banal manner, which does not make it seem incredible.

Recently, the Ministry of Tourism finalised 15 agencies to work on the Incredible India account. Besides Stark Communication, Quantum Communication and Crayons, the other agencies working on the account are Mudra, Lowe, Contract, W+K, Dentsu Marcom, TBWA India, Mercantile Advertising, Critique, Basic Four, FS Advertising, IBD India and India Tourism Development Corporation's creative wing (also known as Ashok Creatives).