For a patient diagnosed with cancer, the biggest challenge in dealing with the disease is the huge funds required for treatment. Nearly seven lakh Indians die of cancer every year, while over 10 lakh are newly diagnosed with some form of the disease.
One of the country's largest fund houses, HDFC Mutual Fund has touched the right chord with its debt fund for cancer cure campaign. The advertisement, conceptualised by Publicis, shows a young boy and his family celebrating the occasion of graduation. He is nudged to give a formal speech by one of his friends. In his speech, the boy expresses gratitude towards his mother. He also recalls his father who died of cancer.
The film carries a soulful anecdote of the boy as he says that "I don't remember him hugging me ever. After getting cancer he got softer. He was massaging my shoulder when I was studying." The film shows that the boy's father had chosen to fund his son's education by sacrificing his cancer treatment.
The film tries to convey the message that cancer patients won't have the tough choice of skipping treatment because of high costs if people invest in HDFC's cancer fund.
Speaking to afaqs! about the idea behind the campaign, Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Publicis South Asia, says that the film, in a very simple manner, narrates how most people sacrifice their own lives and opt for no treatment just for the well being and secure future of their families. The film tries to raise awareness about an alternative way of getting better treatment and also ensuring that the family's future plans are not disturbed.
"It is traumatic for the family to digest that a family member has actually chosen their well-being over his own health even when death is imminent. The film tries to provide a solution to this problem by saying that most people can opt for effective cancer treatment without parting way with a dividend and thus bring difference to their lives," Pawar adds.
HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure, 2014 is a close-ended debt fund with lock-in period of three years. HDFC Mutual Fund's Debt Fund for Cancer Cure 2014 has received a good response from investors. The first series of the fund has already collected Rs 77 crore. HDFC has launched this fund in a tie up with The Indian Cancer Society (ICS), an anti-cancer NGO established in 1951.
Speaking about the execution and media mix of the campaign, Partha Sinha, director and chief strategy officer, Publicis South Asia states that the film is primarily a piece of digital content which will also be displayed across cinema screens in India. Besides, the campaign will be well-supported by an extensive OOH activation across key locations in the country.
Sinha feels that in the cultural system of India, money has got a stigma, whereas in many cases money can be spent for noble causes. Besides, for many cancer patients, money always stands as a choice between treatment and death, which is unfortunate. With this film, Sinha says that the brand is targeting those who are conscious but don't know how to invest in a fund like this.
As per Pawar, the brief from the client was to spread awareness about the product and reach high net worth individuals effectively, which, he believes, the film does well. He further reveals that most of the actors in the film were asked to act less and experience the story and react accordingly.
"Hence the reactions of the actors were for real. We decided that the techniques of film making needed to take a back seat in filming this. The result was a brilliant film," he adds.
The film brings out well the agony of a son who has been parted from his father and does justice to the subject of cancer being an untreatable disease so far in India. But does it bring out the brand's objective of spreading awareness about the cancer fund well and will it help Indians to take better decisions when such situations arise?
"I think the toughness of the choice has been brought out in a powerful yet subtle way. There is no over drama or over-the-top acting. The setting is real, the boy is talking to family and loved ones where you tend to share emotions, it is a big moment for him and obviously the absence of the father is strongly felt," Sahni says.
However, Sahni believes that the writing could have been more real. "Overall it has great impact. And, a great message. Hope it really helps those who have no choice but to take horribly tough decisions in life," she concludes.
(With inputs from Devesh Gupta)