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"Ami chini go chini tomare ogo bideshini" croons Shah Rukh Khan in this gorgeous West Bengal montage

By Sunit Roy , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 27, 2017
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West Bengal Tourism markets the state as 'The sweetest part of India' in a three-and-a-half-minute-long ad film. The soundtrack is an old song by Rabindranath Tagore.

Bengal is well-known for its rich heritage, culture and traditions all over the world. Intricately woven stories of many bright mornings and colourful evenings run through the region; stories of many civilisations have left their mark here. That's why, visitors continue to flock to this part of India all through the year to experience a gallery of emotions. The place attracts tourists from all over the world with its culinary delights and warm hospitality.

West Bengal Tourism's new campaign - 'The sweetest part of India'

To promote tourism in West Bengal, the state's tourism department has attempted to allure travellers with a new ad campaign that pitches the state as 'The sweetest part of India'. Conceptualised and created by Ogilvy & Mather, Kolkata, the film gives you a glimpse of the state and its colours through the eyes of a foreigner. The film opens with a traditional Bengali wedding that the foreigner is attending. The wedding is set to a famous Bengali song "Ami chini go chini tomare ogo bideshini" (I know you, I know you, oh, my lady from an alien land), written by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, played on a Dotara (a two stringed musical instrument resembling a mandolin). What follows, are sights across the state as the lady travels through it.

The 'Bideshini' wanders through the corridors of ancient terracotta structures, and dances to the tunes of a Baul 'gaan'. She relishes lip-smacking cuisines served by her warm host. Through the course of her visit, she realises that in Bengal, she is never really far from home. Towards the end of the film, a tram stops by the lady, and she boards it. Surprisingly, in the tram is Shah Rukh Khan, who takes the lady in his arms and sings, "Ami chini go chini tomare ogo bideshini". The film signs off with SRK saying, "Welcome to Bengal - The sweetest part of India".

Sujoy Roy

Sumanto Chattopadhyay

The three-and-a-half-minute-long ad film has been directed by Prakash Varma of Nirvana films. The campaign stays away from the stereotypes associated with Bengal as a destination and introduces new places, rituals and experiences. "It showcases the hospitality of Bengal, something that lends uniqueness to our state," says Sujoy Roy, managing partner - Ogilvy & Mather, Kolkata.

While the campaign was launched about a year ago on radio, outdoor and print, the video has now been launched on the digital platform.

Speaking about the campaign, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy, says, "We travelled around the state along with Nirvana Films, capturing places and people in a way that have not been seen before. We use the Tagore song, 'Ogo bideshini', in the film in order to address a lady from a faraway land. It is a perfect connect for our film in which we see a foreign traveller discovering the sweetness of Bengali culture, cuisine and customs."

It is not the first time that such a plot has been used, where a foreigner explores the unknown/not so popular destinations of a region. Last year, Ogilvy had created a multimedia ad campaign titled 'Jaane Kya Dikh Jaaye' for Rajasthan Tourism. The various films launched as part of the campaign showed Rajasthan through the eyes of tourists - Huan, Jane, Arya, Binoy, and Meera.

Gujarat Tourism campaign, featuring Amitabh Bachchan



Interestingly, unlike the Gujarat Tourism campaign, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, and Dubai Tourism campaign, '#BeMyGuest', launched last year featuring Shah Rukh Khan, the West Bengal tourism ad makes minimal use of the celebrity brand ambassador. In fact, when used in tourism campaigns, most celebs play host and invite people on behalf of the state/country, however, in this ad the ambassador (SRK) has little role to play.

Dubai Tourism's campaign '#BeMyGuest' featuring Shah Rukh Khan

"With a tourism film, which gets viewed worldwide, one should be able to appeal to a broad audience. Our intention is to impress tourists from India and around the world. Foreign tourists, who consider travelling to India, usually look at places such as Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa. We want to bring Bengal into the consideration set," explains Chattopadhyay.

'Bengal Leads' featuring SRK, released in 2012

It is to be noted that the West Bengal state government came up with its maiden ad campaign in 2008. Since then, the Department of Tourism has actively promoted the state through various campaigns launched on varied platforms - print, digital, OOH, and TVC. In 2012, an ad film on West Bengal tourism titled, 'Bengal Leads' featuring superstar Shah Rukh Khan, was released, and 'King Khan' - as he is popularly known - was announced as the brand ambassador of the state.

Last year, a digital campaign 'Experience Bengal, A journey to remember' was launched, highlighting key tourist destinations of the state. It was also during this time that the slogan was changed from 'Beautiful Bengal' to 'Experience Bengal - Sweetest Part of India', and print ads were also placed inside the Delhi Metro train coaches.

Bengal Tourism's ad campaign launched in May 2016

Blockbuster performance?

Ajeet Shukla

Jaideep Mahajan

According to Ajeet Shukla, senior creative director, FCB Ulka, tourism ads such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, have already set a benchmark. Hence, seeing this one was a bit of disappointment.

"Two things that held my attention were the music and camera work. Other than that, I could not find an idea per se, although I loved the Rabindra Sangeet... 'aami chini go chini...' Also, the positioning of the campaign is, 'The sweetest part of India', but where are the delicious sondesh and rosogulla?" he asks.

He adds, "SRK seems like a waste of a celeb brand ambassador. It looks like a disconnected patch in the end. He could have been used as inclusively as he has been in the Dubai Tourism campaign. If I have to point out what attracts me enough to visit Bengal after watching this commercial, I am not sure if I'd like to visit."

Jaideep Mahajan, national creative head, Rediffusion Y&R has a different opinion. He says, "For me introducing Shah Rukh Khan at the end was a great surprise element. Not making the ad all about SRK is what I liked. It is a well executed film reflecting the food, culture, heritage and religious diversities of West Bengal. A very colourful and fresh side of Bengal has been beautifully captured in the spot. For sure the spot will lure people to visit West Bengal."

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