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Full Housie: What's in a number?

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 04, 2009
In a press, outdoor and radio campaign for Mumbai Mirror's annual Full Housie game, TapRoot India has narrated the quirky numbers story associated with the game of Housie

As a child, you were probably dragged into it by uncles and aunties, but as you grew up, the indoor game of luck grew on you. Almost every Indian has memories of family get-togethers marked by indoor games, particularly 'Housie' or 'Tambola'. Leveraging this fondness, the Mumbai Mirror started the annual Full Housie, a game of Housie spread over several weeks, for its readers three years ago (this per se wasn't a new concept for the Times Group: The TOI had been running the 'Tambola' game in Kolkata and Chennai earlier).

As one may know, Full Housie works on the premise of sending Housie tickets along with the newspaper, and getting readers to play according to the Housie numbers revealed in the daily over the subsequent days, with prizes for the winners.

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Each year, the Mumbai Mirror launches an extensive print and outdoor campaign to popularise Full Housie. The first campaign in 2007, created by Leo Burnett, played around with numbers seen commonly in public places, such as bus/taxi numbers, numbers on streets and road signs. The second year's campaign by JWT went a step further and toyed with numbers in the names of famous landmarks, people and surnames. For instance, 'Ten'dulkar has 'Ten' in it, and Mumbai's 'Teen' Batti area has a 'teen' (three) in it.

2009's campaign for Full Housie, currently splashed in Mumbai on hoardings and in the daily itself, has been created by TapRoot India and makes use of interesting illustrations to drive home its point: that every number tells a story. "Every Housie game is a matter of luck and each number that is called out changes your story, or someone else's," remarks Agnello Dias, co-founder and chief creative officer, TapRoot India, explaining the idea. "To narrate this story, we chose 'street-culture' as a theme in our campaign."

Anant Pandit, brand manager, Mumbai Mirror, says, "Each year, we drive the numbers concept home in a bigger way. This time around, we experimented with the unique Housie lingo that Indians familiar with the game know of, and have grown up with."

Some of these unique terms are used by announcers to add fun to the game. For instance, 'Two long legs' is the verbal representation of the number 11, 'Two fat ladies' is 88 (due to the figure similarities) and 'Two ugly ducklings' is 22 (as the digits are similar to their shape).

The illustrations, created by art director Durvesh Gaikar of TapRoot India (under the supervision of Santosh Padhi, co-founder and chief creative officer), carry the images painted by the numbers in a Housie game (an illustration of two ducks to signify '22', for instance).

Padhi says, "While the previous campaigns were nice, they were becoming cold, with talks of objects and less focus on people and stories. This campaign is all about people enjoying the game, in a parlance only understood by a Housie enthusiast." Furthermore, he adds, this campaign, with its quirky illustrations, make the tone of voice fun, youthful and humorous.

Why illustrations and not candid mug shots from Mumbai? "Pictures limit you to say what you see in them. With illustrations, we have played around with exaggeration in our canvas," shrugs Padhi. Further, such simple illustrations make it easy to understand, he says.

To appeal to the youth in a manner apart from the usual use of loud colours, muted/de-saturated colours have been used in the Full Housie illustrations. Further, these colours give it the animation effect.

Apart from press and outdoor (which comprise the same six or so illustrations), there are three radio spots which have commoners using Housie parlance in their day to day life. In one, a lady, who is having an argument with her local vendor on vegetable prices, does so comically in Housie lingo.