Breaking Down Walls Of Disparity

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | April 17, 2014
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Departing from category codes, in its latest campaign, Ambuja Cement gives a metaphorical spin to the otherwise clichéd concept of 'mazbooti of a deewar'. The message is: let's work together to bring down the invisible 'walls' that threaten to fracture our societal fabric.

After releasing a string of campaigns focused on demonstrating the literal strength and durability of walls made using Ambuja Cement, the brand has now tried a different tack, one that's socially relevant. The recently released ad film alerts us to the proverbial walls we tend to erect between ourselves, walls that divide people basis their caste, creed and religion.

Ambuja Cements' Arjun Deewar campaign

Partha Sinha

Vivek Deshpande

Created by Publicis, a creative agency that is part of the Publicis Omnicom Group, the minute long TVC is set in an Indian classroom. The students have been given the task of writing an essay on the word 'Wall'. The teacher writes the word 'mazbooti' (Hindi for strength) on the board before noticing the protagonist, a boy called Arjun, disturbing students around him. She then asks him to read out his write-up. And this is where the tone of the film changes.

Arjun talks about the wall between him and his erstwhile cricket buddy, a certain Iqbal, whom he is no longer allowed to play with, because his uncle has alerted him to a wall that stands between them - a wall Arjun says he cannot see. The writing on the wall (pun intended) is clear: Walls that create disharmony and disparity between people should be broken down.

Without saying it in so many words, the campaign touches upon a sensitive issue that is especially relevant in the Indian context - that of communal divide between people. And unfortunately, as indicated in the ad, this divide begins to take shape in the minds of people at a very young age.

Partha Sinha, director, South Asia, Publicis, and the agency's chief strategy officer, believes this latest piece of communication will take the element of 'strength' associated with the brand to the next level. "The campaign takes Ambuja as a brand beyond physical strength and positions it as a social commentator," he says.

The issue of religious walls is brought out through nothing but the names Arjun and Iqbal. The idea, Sinha tells us, was to keep things subtle. "We are trying to bring to the fore the social evils that exist and divide hearts. The idea is to convey that such societal or monetary boundaries should not exist and that the world should be one," he says

Ambuja has launched this campaign after a gap of four years. In the past, the brand has aggressively promoted its product proposition of 'giant compressive strength'. Some of Ambuja's memorable commercials in this context include the one with the graphically created mascot, the 'Ambuja Giant'; the one featuring actor Vijay, who is unable to perform a stunt that requires him to break a wall; and the funny one featuring actor Boman Irani, that's about two estranged brothers trying to break a wall that divides their home in two.

Post that, the Grey Worldwide released an emotion-laden campaign for Ambuja, about a builder who fails to break down the wall around an orphanage.

About the current film, Vivek Deshpande, head, brands and marketing strategies, Ambuja Cement, says the idea this time around was to take the concept of strength from a mere physical and functional space to a more exalted one.

He explains, "Walls, in the current cultural context of India, have their benefits and disadvantages. On one hand they are protective; on the other, they are divisive. We figured out that the divisive walls are mostly invisible. Thus we came up with the idea of good walls and bad walls."

Besides TV, the media mix includes digital, activation and print. Approximately Rs 60 crore has been earmarked for this pan-India campaign.

Ambuja Cement, a part of Holcim, a global conglomerate, has completed over 25 years of operations in India. The company, initially called Gujarat Ambuja Cements, was founded by Narotam Sekhsaria in 1983, in partnership with Suresh Neotia. Global cement major Holcim acquired management control of Ambuja in 2006. It has also made strategic investments in ACC Limited, a cement manufacturer. Its current cement capacity is 27.25 million tons.

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