afaqs!

BBH gets Tanjore painting back in frame

By Anushree Bhattacharyya and Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 29, 2011
Six months after creating Archana's Kitchen, BBH returns with a new campaign for Google Chrome as part of the global campaign, 'The web is what you make of it'. This time, the agency focusses on the dying art of Tanjore painting by telling the real life story of G Rajendran, an artist from Tamil Nadu.

Six months after creating Archana's Kitchen, BBH India returns with a new television commercial, this time talking about the dying art of Tanjore painting. The TVC narrates the real life story of Tamil Nadu-based artist G Rajendran.

The film is a part of Google's global campaign, 'The web is what you make of it'. It shows the story of the South India-based artist, who specialises in the dying art of Tanjore painting. This particular art dates back to about 1600 AD and is known for its use of vivid colours and compact composition. The themes of most of these paintings are Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as saints.

The TVC shows how the artist sets up an online shop for his painting, and with the help of Google Adwords, is able to find buyers, reviving an art form which was gradually losing its place in the world.

Speaking about the idea, Raj Kamble, managing partner, BBH India, says, "The idea was to showcase how technology is helping humanity. While globally, all Google Chrome television commercials have a typical format, we try to break away from it every time."

In its effort to tell a different tale, the agency looked for various examples where technology has played a key role in transforming life. It came across one such real life example in a postman, who delivers letters to people in villages by reading them on his laptop. In another case, a courier company recruited deaf and blind people.

"It was about the same time that Arvind Krishnan, brand partner on the Google account, narrated the story of Tanjore painting, and how it is gradually losing its presence in the world. Hence, we thought of building an interesting story around the art form," adds Kamble.

Thus, the agency began its research on the art form and on the artists. After learning about the details of the art form Rusell Barrett, creative director, conceptualised the idea, and copy writer Nikhil Panjwani created the first draft. The agency then presented its idea to Google, which was approved.

The next step was to get a director who knew his craft well. E Suresh, who also belongs to South India and is aware of the art form, was a perfect fit. "After we shared the idea with Suresh, he further developed it by suggesting that we should create a combination of animation and art."

To understand the entire process of the art form, Suresh, along with a team from the agency, went to live at Rajendran's place for a few days.

"We have given the whole ad a Tanjore stylisation. We went to Chennai and tried to find out his way of life. We saw the paintings. We flew more than45 paintings from Chennai. It took us around two months to merely design everything."

After all the background work, BBH was ready to shoot the commercial.

Interestingly, artist Rajendran could not converse in any language other than Tamil. Kamble recalls fondly, "One of our copy writers, Venkat Raman, turned into a model for the shoot of this commercial. In fact, he was the man who would hold the makeshift arrow. While he shot for the TVC, he also played the role of the translator."

Targeted at entrepreneurs and SMEs, the commercial is currently available online and will be played in theatres as well. The agency is also in the process of designing downloadable skins and browsers using the Tanjore art form.

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