Why Leo Burnett is 'fontly' remembering Gandhiji

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | October 01, 2010
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Burnett has created a special font in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, which shall soon be available for download

First, Raju Hirani did it with 'Lagey Raho Munnabhai'. Now, with Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) around the corner, Leo Burnett India has, in its own way, attempted to keep Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi alive and relevant in the hearts and minds of youngsters in India. The ad agency has, under the wish of its national creative director KV Sridhar (Pops), crafted an alphabetical font in the Devanagari script that has the trademark Gandhi glasses subtly incorporated into every letter. The agency hopes to propagate the use of this font to popularise Gandhiji's quotes and teachings amongst the younger generation.

The idea was Pops' brainchild. Bapu's teachings, which influenced him greatly, had him toying with the idea for a while. "Gandhi Jayanti would be the best time to unleash an effort such as this. I briefed our designers and typographers and after a detailed process of four-six weeks, they came up with this font," he says.

2010 marks Bapu's 141st birthday and the font is an effort to commemorate it by bringing alive his values of truth and non-violence. The font makes use of Gandhiji's trademark glasses as a visual representative of him, as glasses also symbolise 'vision' and the effort here is to bring alive his visionary thoughts.

"The way he saw the world is completely different from the way we do - and hence the glasses, to subtly nudge people into thinking like him again," Pops remarks.

To popularise the font and Gandhiji's teachings, Burnett has chosen digital as the primary medium as the effort here is to be relevant to youngsters. A website, www.gandhijifont.com, has been formulated and shall be active on October 2 at 12 am. This website shall allow visitors the chance to download six posters containing one saying of Bapu each, which can then be saved or put up as wallpapers or screensavers. In time, more sayings and teachings will follow.

While currently the font is available only in Devanagari, soon English, Tamil and other major languages will follow. Further, new fonts will make use of other props associated with Gandhiji, apart from the currently used glasses. "We want everyone to interact with this font in the digital era," Pops explains, "and shall do everything we can to make the effort engaging."

The website shall also explain why it is important to remember Bapu and how to incorporate his teachings to improve one's day to day life. The font is merely symbolic of that. The site will contain various innovations. For example, on clicking the image of the glasses, different parts of it will fly off to become parts of the font, forming 'mantras' and letters of the alphabet. The site will also contain a message board where people can specify which Gandhi saying they would like on their own poster, and a personalised Gandhi font encrypted saying will be sent to their email address.

Further, on downloading the font, users can make their own Gandhi sayings and proverbs and use it for other purposes such as writing nameplates.

These fonts will also be promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networking platforms, where people can download and share it with each other. Plans are also on to allow Facebook users the option of having their profile pages transformed entirely with the Gandhiji font.

Talks are on with search engines such as Google to enable their home pages to be transformed by the font for a day on October 2. Certain print media are also being encouraged to use the font to publish articles on Bapu on the day of his Jayanti. There shall also be merchandise creation and sale using the font, including postcards, mugs and T-shirts.

Burnett is working closely with various NGOs and shall soon be in talks with Rajmohan Gandhi (the Mahatma's grandson) to promote the font. Downloading of the font may even help in revenue generation for NGOs. According to the Burnett team, for anyone who wants to start a revolution of his own using just Gandhiji's words, this font would be a fitting accomplice.

The Burnett team on this activity includes Sridhar, along with creative director Payal Juthani; font designers Payal Juthani and Nadine Periera; art directors Nadine Periera and Zainab Karachiwala; copywriter Sachin Kamath with guest copywriter Agnello Dias of TapRoot India; Amjad Pendhari and Sujay Surve of Arc Worldwide; and Anup Vishwanathan, Seema Sood, Ankur Mitra and Nirmala Nathan of client servicing.

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