Mudra's May I Help campaign urges people to see the difference

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 08, 2009
The three-day campaign was executed by Mudra West for the National Association for the Blind (NAB), marking World Disability Day

A visit to Copper Chimney restaurant in Worli, Mumbai last week left visitors confused and perplexed, as they had difficulty reading what was listed on the menu card that day.

Help was at hand when a visually challenged volunteer read out the options listed on the menu card, which was entirely in Braille. The exercise was part of a campaign titled 'May I Help' for National Association for the Blind (NAB), executed by Mudra West.

Marking World Disability Day falling on December 03, the three-day campaign focused on highlighting the abilities of differently-abled people, rather than talking about their handicaps.

Sharing the concept behind the initiative, Pranav Harihar Sharma, creative supervisor, copy, Mudra West, says, "Disabled people are looked at as those who need help and assistance. The idea behind placing the Braille menu card on tables was to make people feel uncomfortable at encountering something they were not used to. This was done to drive home the point that primarily, it is the environment and resources around one that contribute in making things simple or complex."

He adds, "With visually challenged people coming forward to help the clueless customers, the campaign drove home the point that given an equal opportunity and the right kind of resources, differently-abled people, too, could be efficient and comfortable in any environment."

The three-day initiative, supported by Indian Oil, was executed for NAB, which takes pride in training and rehabilitating visually challenged people across the country. In an official communiqué, Aasha Bhatia, director - NAB, Rehab shares, "The whole exercise was really like seeing the other side of the coin. A blind person is always thought of as someone in need of help. But this time, the tables were turned. The different and effective idea has boosted the morale of our differently-abled volunteers."

Six visually challenged individuals - three girls and three boys - helped visitors in placing an order, by helping them out with Braille. The boys and the girls helped as many as 120-150 visitors at the restaurant in three days, during lunch (1 pm-4 pm) and dinner (7:30 pm-11 pm).

The volunteers were familiarised with the restaurant settings, prior to the actual campaign.

When approached for the initiative, a lot of big names in the hotel business expressed reluctance; but Shikha Nath, director, Copper Chimney agreed to play host to the volunteers and provided her premises for the experiment, informs Sharma.

The campaign had the support of actor Suniel Shetty and Naseer Khan. Sharma informs that Shetty was roped in because of his involvement with a number of social causes; and Khan is a visually challenged person himself, who played the lead role of an individual who had sight in the movie, Shadow (2009). The two visited the restaurant on the third day and encouraged and applauded the kids for their efforts.

As per KB Vinod, creative head, Mudra West, the communication strategy at the heart of the campaign was about making people understand that it isn't a "disability" that gets in the way of the differently abled achieving as much as they can; it's the lack of opportunity and resources. "And it's time we became more sensitive about this," he says.

The May I Help campaign also made use of printed T-shirts, posters, banners, standees and tent cards to convey this message to people.

Amol Dahanukar, creative supervisor, art, says, "The campaign portraying the visually challenged as differently-abled adopted a visual communication strategy that was bright and colorful, encompassing the logo of the activity as well as other communication material. Thus, the communication message was made more energetic and dynamic."

The senior visualiser, Vivek Jadhav too worked on the campaign along with Sharma and Dahanukar. The trio was supervised by Vinod and Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group.

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