afaqs!

An Idea to talk for India

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 20, 2009
Around the first anniversary of the terror attacks in Mumbai, Idea Cellular has launched its new campaign, 'Talk for India', which will raise funds to aid the internal security forces of the country

A little less than a year ago, Mumbai, the financial capital of India, came to a standstill as terrorists went trigger-happy. The ordeal was a rude awakening for the government and security forces, as citizens came forward with angry reactions. Protest marches and candle vigils were held throughout the country to express a unified voice of resentment.

As the country commemorates the first anniversary of 26/11, Idea Cellular has come up with a new campaign, Talk for India, to mark the day.

& #BANNER1 & #According to the campaign, the net income of all voice calls made by Idea subscribers within India on November 26, for one hour between 8:36 pm and 9:36 pm, will be donated to the Government of India, in support of its initiative to strengthen the national security of the country.

A television commercial created by Lowe Lintas, and featuring brand ambassador, Abhishek Bachchan, is currently on-air. The TVC shows a sombre Bachchan among a silent crowd that is holding lit candles. Bachchan states that silent protest marches showed solidarity last year; and this time round, he would "talk for India".

The TVC has been directed by Amit Sharma and the production house is Chrome Pictures. Ashwin Varkey, creative director, Lowe Lintas is the creative head and the copywriter is Subodh Menon.

"We would like to believe that the Mumbai terror attack was a globally recognised unfortunate event. Thanks to the media coverage and the siege of a hotel like the Taj, the event remains in the psyche of the people," says Pradeep Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular.

"We realised that there is suppressed anger and a feeling of helplessness among people and we should harness the energy -- hence, the campaign. The 'Talk for India' hour begins at 8:36 pm when the first bullet was fired. This is not a regular advertisement, but a movement," Shrivastava adds.

Talking to afaqs!, Varkey says, "While a silent protest march was the way to express solidarity last year; this year, we are giving the people an alternative."

Idea Cellular's earlier campaigns have showcased the brand offering quirky solutions to social/political problems. While those solutions are clearly just the brand's point of view with a humorous undertone, 'Talk for India' shifts gears towards becoming more practical.

"We have to give an idea in each of the Idea commercials. Yes, there is a slight fantasy element involved. However, 26/11 is not an issue where you can just give an idea or point of view," Varkey says.

A 360-degree campaign has been designed for the initiative, with extensive promotions on radio, mobile networks, outdoor and in-shop. Idea has also partnered with NDTV, Rediff and Big FM for the campaign.

Mindshare handles the media duties for Idea.

Talk for the campaign

The campaign has evoked mixed responses from the advertising fraternity. While the initiative to donate funds has been appreciated, some doubts remain.

Deepesh Jha, creative head at Rediffusion-Y&R, Delhi thinks that while the intention to donate is noble and goes with the brand's platform of taking up social causes and changing public opinion; but the initiative could also raise doubts in the mind of some people, who would consider this to be a gimmick.

Ankur Khurana, brand partner, planning, Orchard Advertising, Bengaluru raises similar doubts, when he says that the campaign could create some confusion in the minds of people, who might see it as a publicity stunt.

"The thought behind doing something for 26/11 is very good. But I believe it will do little for the brand except confusion; especially coming immediately after the latest set of 'walk and talk' commercials," Khurana says.

On the commercial, Jha says, "The execution is somber, as one would expect it to be. One can also understand the limitations in not referring to the tragic event overtly. But somewhere in doing that, the intensity and passion from Abhishek's appeal has also got diluted."