You know that the Royal Bengal Tiger is India's national animal. You might also know that the number of this majestic species is dwindling fast. What could be interesting trivia is that India is home to the world's largest population of the Royal Bengal Tiger, the most numerous of all tiger subspecies.
In a bid to raise awareness about the declining number of tigers, Aircel, partnering with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India, has launched the 'Save Our Tigers' initiative.
afaqs! takes a look at the strategy behind the initiative and the much talked-about campaign.
Talking to afaqs!, Rahul Saighal, chief marketing officer, Aircel says, "Aircel sees itself as having strong social responsibilities. This is a cause that cuts across all sections of the population and something we believe in and are passionate about."
"The response has been overwhelming from all sections of society, be it school children or adults. It has proved to be a very engaging campaign. As a brand, it is important to engage with consumers at multiple levels," he adds.
A dedicated website has been designed for the initiative (www.saveourtigers.com), where over 96,000 visitors have pledged their support.
Save Our Tigers is part of the corporate social responsibility activities of the brand; and Aircel has been associated with the cause for about a year with WWF.
"As a service provider, we are in the realm of communication, where we can connect and create awareness with the audience. This project has a direct impact on the environment and is close to our heart. Therefore, we are a part of this," an Aircel executive says.
Dentsu Communications, the creative agency behind the campaign, has created four television commercials, which that involve three production houses -- Cutting Edge, Keroscene and Tellywise, and three film directors -- Rickii Kapoor, Rajesh Saathi and Shiva. The logo for the campaign has been designed by Wham, a London-based agency.
The main film focuses on the helplessness and vulnerability of a small tiger cub, Stripey, who is lost, hungry, and is looking for his mother. The viewer then realises that the tigress may never return to the cub, as poachers could have killed her. The voiceovers in the film are by actors Kabir Bedi and Shernaz Patel.
In the three other films, cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, footballer Baichung Bhutia and South Indian actor Suriya, pledge their support to the cause.
An emotional approach runs strong through the campaign and with good reason. The creative idea comes from the 1994 Walt Disney classic, The Lion King.
"When watching The Lion King, why do our eyes well up when Mufasa dies? Not because a majestic animal has been killed, but because a father died trying to save his son. A tiger is beautiful, majestic and dangerous; but a six-month-old cub is just another baby that needs his mother to survive," says Mohanty.
"The seriousness of the crisis may not be at the top of the mind. So, instead of just mentioning, one must feel the cause, highlight it," he adds.
The brief to the agency was to structure a long term, all-encompassing 360-degree public communication campaign, which informs people about the seriousness of the threat, and the urgent need for action.
Besides the TVCs and the activity on the internet, there are ongoing radio spots, outdoor campaigns and on-ground activation across the country.
Mohanty mentions that the internet forms an important platform for the campaign, because it is the best place for interaction and an ideal tool to build awareness.
The campaign is being planned on a long-term basis. Both Dentsu and Aircel confirm that this is the "launch phase" of the programme, which focuses on building awareness. "As the first phase ends, we will study the results of the campaign and decide on the way forward," says Mohanty.
Throughout the campaign, the fact that only 1,411 Royal Bengal Tigers are left, is emphasised upon.
"Though people are aware that few tigers are left in the country, not everyone has an exact idea of how many. So we wanted to highlight the number, 1,411, in the communication. We want people to register this number. This will, in turn, generate further buzz around saving tigers," says Ameen Ahmed, communications in-charge-species, WWF-India.
Ad men speak
Within the fraternity, the campaign receives a pat on the back simply for the cause. However, a stronger cry and a more definite plan of action have been called for.
"The awareness is already there. Yes, maybe the exact number was not known. However, in a campaign such as this, one would appreciate a definite plan of action. I do not find a unique message that would set the campaign apart from other such similar initiatives," Chakravarty says.
Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and chairman, Taproot India is of the view that anything done to preserve nature is a great initiative and contributes to the well-being of society.
However, he adds that the initiative is not well woven with the brand.
"Imagine if a few more big brands like this can come together for various such causes! However, from a marketing point of view, it looks just like 'Brought to you by Aircel'. If the cause allows the brand to strongly associate with it, it is a win-win situation," he says.
Padhi thinks that there could be stronger and more effective ways to hammer the problem with lesser money.
"I, too, think that the way tigers are disappearing is a disaster. But then, I do not know how one could save them from vanishing from one corner of the country. This is an issue every state government could handle, if they really feel like, and brands should seriously get in touch with higher authorities to nail down such issues," he says, raising a similar doubt as Chakravarty.