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Western Union: Lighting up lndian villages

By Aditi Srivastava , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 12, 2015
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The financial services and communications company will contribute a sum upto Rs 100, towards 10 Indian villages, for each Western Union remittance received in India, between October 15-November 30.

The festival of Diwali heralds peace and prosperity and lights up not just our homes, but our hearts as well. No small wonder then, that it is called the festival of lights. Yet, according to a report by, an astounding 300 million people in India live out their lives in darkness even today! To mitigate the effect of this looming power crisis in the country, The Western Union Company, a leader in global payment services, has taken the initiative to light up many homes in remote villages of India. The aim is to make power available to homes in those villages which have never seen nor experienced the feel of a lighted home.

Western Union's CSR Diwali campaign 'Chain Of Betters'

Western Union, will therefore, contribute up to Rs 100 for each Western Union remittance received in India from designated countries during the period between October 15 to November 30, for the benefit of 10 Indian villages. The designated countries include the US, the UK, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. The 10 villages are Charapatti, Erranapalli, Jadumuru, Neemalapallem, Bahorva, Kakrahia, Adampur, NaynandGola, Aajhokopa and Sapha.

Each remittance received from the designated countries during the period October 15-November 30 through Western Union services will contribute towards the lighting up of a village in India.

As part of this unique initiative, several villages in the hinterland of India will have access to light for the first time with the help of solar-powered lamps. Through this campaign, Western Union will use the contribution to engage The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in erecting solar panels for each household in the targetted villages. Each household will get three solar connections - two for electricity, and one for cooking.

A total of 600 solar lamps will be disseminated through this initiative.

Significantly, this campaign gains prominence now as it is a part of Western Union's global CSR programme called 'Chain of Betters' which aims to 'move money for the better' and to celebrate some of the great things that moving money can achieve. For instance, each time, a cross border transaction takes place, homes in a remote Indian village get lit up!

The brand, in addition to the launch of a full-fledged campaign, has also come up with over a two-and-a-half-minute-long promotional video called #WUDiwali, which has already garnered more than six lakh hits on YouTube so far!

Interestingly, the campaign does not cater to any specific target group. On the other hand, it is meant for anyone who would like to send money through Western Union and light up a village in India.

Kiran Shetty

Kiran Shetty, Western Union's managing director and regional vice-president, India and South Asia, says, "By providing solar lamps to these households, people will be able to celebrate the festival of lights and dispel darkness in their homes. This platform also fits in with PM Narendra Modi's objective to ensure every village with power supply by the year 2022. The solar lamps will provide a sustainable option for electricity where kerosene lamps have been used for decades. We intend to spread the festive cheer to these villages and let them experience a bright Diwali too."

Dr I H Rehman, senior director, Lighting a Billion Lives, from TERI, adds, "Around 300 million citizens in India have no access to electricity and renewable energy is one way to bridge this gap. The Indian government is making aggressive moves to accelerate the country's solar energy supply in the states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, which face a severe power deficit. We are glad to associate with Western Union and to make electricity an accessible commodity in villages which have used biomass fuels extensively for light and cooking. "

Luminous enough?

Prathap Suthan

Spandan Mishra

Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer, BangInTheMiddle, finds the ad to be a beautiful one and doesn't think it necessary to get into the specifics of the execution. "Any ad that brings joy to people is beautiful, especially when it has to do with something as precious as light, which most of us take for granted," says Suthan.

Talking about the message delivery, he adds, "The target audience is me and you, and people who live in big cities. This generosity that we see in the ad, and the benevolence of this act, takes away the guilt that we have within us of not reaching out to the underprivileged."

Spandan Mishra, head, strategic planning, Rediffusion-Y&R, too, finds the ad to be nicely executed, loaded with a feel good campaign that surprises you. "It avoids the before-after clichés that make the brand some sort of a superhero at the rescue of those in distress, but instead stays true to the feel-good moment and links it to children and the future," says Mishra.

Expressing his views on the message delivery part, he opines that the idea of 'Moves money for better' that sets up the global idea of 'chain of betters' (that's been adapted in this campaign) is quite brilliant. Will actual financial contribution/per transaction to light up a dark village make a difference? He would think so, he says as there's an emotional scalp at the end of a very transactional relationship with a brand that's trying to push its trust credentials beyond the big cities.

Mishra further points out that even so, while this may look like a repeated activity (electrification via solar power), he finds the idea to be relevant especially during Diwali. "The brand is making an effort where it frankly doesn't need to and that should be lauded," he says.

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