afaqs!

Ogilvy flags off Indian Railways' first ad journey

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | October 06, 2010
Historical brand, Indian Railways rolls out its first large-scale corporate campaign, which attempts to capture on film the emotional nuances that surround train journeys

Indian Railways (IR) has come out with a large-scale corporate campaign, making this the very first time it is advertising via an ad film on TV. As the result of a well-considered, deliberate move, the release of the campaign coincided with the opening day of the ongoing Commonwealth Games (CWG).

The campaign will run through the course of the event and will also be used in the long term. By virtue of being one of the lead partners for the CWG, Indian Railways will utilise a lot of the FCT (Free Commercial Air Time) that it has received from the CWG authorities, for this campaign.

"The campaign is meant to showcase Indian Railways specifically for the Commonwealth Games. The goal of the campaign is to position the organisation as a responsive one with a human face; and to make a statement that it is an organisation - for the people, by the people - that connects people, places and hearts," a source at IR tells afaqs!, on the condition of anonymity.

Ogilvy Delhi has worked on this campaign on a project basis. The creative brief was very 'open' -- to showcase the place that IR occupies in the hearts and minds of 1.3 billion Indians.

Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy Delhi tells afaqs! that the objective was to create a simple, yet endearing, communication, which would touch audiences and bring alive the romance and emotions that Indians associate with trains.

"Everyone has played 'chuk-chuk gaadi' in their childhood and has certain memories and feelings attached to trains. All Indians have a story to tell when it comes to trains. We aimed to tap into this excitement and these sentiments, and portray how trains bind the country together like a lifeline," Gahlaut explains.

It thus follows that the insights used for the campaign were those drawn from the lives of Indians, including the lives of the creators of this campaign.

Two 60-second TVCs have been released, one in English and the other in Hindi. At the end of the former, 'The Magic of India- Indian Railways' is supered on the screen, along with a VO. For the Hindi TVC, the catchphrase, 'Desh Ka Mel- Bhartiya Rail' has been used.

The film shows a large number of enthusiastic men forming a never-ending human train, complete with accompanying actions, as they traverse the busy streets of a city. As they move along, they make interesting patterns over roof-tops, inside homes, along sidewalks, on the road, amidst traffic; while a peppy soundtrack keeps the tempo going. The track used is the old Hindi film song, 'Railgaadi' that featured Ashok Kumar.

The ad film has been shot in and around Kolkata over a span of two days. It has been scripted by Piyush Pandey and executed by Prakash Varma of Nirvana Films. Apparently, the script was converted into a finished film at break-neck speed. The media duties have been handled by an in-house team at IR.

The current TVC is the only film that has been created; 30-second and 10-second edited versions will be used in the days to come. TV is the lead medium for this corporate campaign and the TVC is being aired across TV channels both nationally (including GECs, news channels and sports channels) and internationally (in the Commonwealth countries, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa). Besides TV, radio and print will also be used.

Industry viewpoints

Industry experts have taken to the commercial in a big way.

Sainath Saraban, executive creative director, Leo Burnett thinks the TVC is brilliant and claims he cannot stop watching it. "I am very proud of Indian Railways. I have seen it thrice already and will watch it a few more times hereafter," he enthuses.

Saraban goes on to explain that the campaign has good production values; and opines that using Kolkata to shoot the ad film was a great idea. "And the metaphor that it brings India together is so simply, yet so fabulously done. I also love the choice of music -- I'm a huge fan of Ashok Kumar," he quips.

"This is a great first attempt from Indian Railways, considering they could have easily succumbed to a picture postcard, 'India Tourism' montage treatment," he adds.

Amit Shankar, executive creative director and creative head, Grey Delhi says that this film works fantastically as a "first time ever" attempt from Indian Railways. In his opinion, the idea is extremely simple and the TVC is very engaging.

"The best thing about the script is that without trying too hard, it manages to connect with the entire nation by conveying that trains are the nation's vehicles. Even the music works very well. It has been woven into the ad such that it forms an integral part of it, unlike other ads that use old Hindi film songs simply for the sake of it," he explains.

He concludes, "Once I start viewing the film, I watch it till the end, uninterrupted, each time!"

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