The dark memories of the India-Pakistan partition continue to haunt people after more than 70 years. But behind all the hatred and violence, there are a few stories of love and brotherhood that bridge the religious divide and serve as a narrative for brands to leverage 'communal harmony' as a subject for their marketing campaigns. Riding such a wave is Brooke Bond Red Label, in association with The Better India, a tech-media platform, who launched an ad campaign titled #BreakingBarriers.
Red Label has traditionally been a TVC-led brand. But things changed ever since the 6-Pack Band campaign was launched. In fact, Red Label has started advertising aggressively on digital platforms, thereby releasing a series of long-format films (2-3 minutes) with minimal branding. Even, #BreakingBarriers looks more like a mini-movie and the branding comes almost at the end of the film with no mention of tea at all. So, we asked Shiva Krishnamurthy, general manager, tea - marketing, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) what is the strategy and thought behind this move?
"Brooke Bond Red Label's purpose is to make the world a more welcoming and inclusive place. We are always looking for different ways to engage consumers and society at large with our purpose. Brooke Bond Red Label's Breaking Barriers is one of the ways for us to walk the talk in promoting inclusiveness," says Krishnamurthy.
The first film of the series - Religion of Love - is about the Mallah village in Jagraon Tehsil of the Ludhiana district in Punjab. The hamlet has a population of 10,000 with only three Muslim families.
After the village's only mosque was demolished during the partition, the residents got together and rebuilt the structure. This was done so the devout from the Muslim families wouldn't have to travel more than 20km every day to offer namaaz, thus setting an example of fraternity and communal harmony.
Speaking about the initiative, Krishnamurthy tells afaqs! "Under this series, with The Better India, we'll bring forward true stories from across the country that inspire togetherness, break social barriers and pave the way for a more inclusive society."
When the creative team started researching the subject, it came across a poem written by Bulleh Shah (a Sufi saint who has followers and admirers on both sides of the border) that talks about a perfect state of harmony. They wanted to use it in the film, possibly as part of the edit, because according to them, it truly represented Mallah. But when they shared the poem with the denizens, one of the elderly came forward to sing it for the film.
Talking about the challenges of making the films, Dhimant Parekh, co-founder and CEO, The Better India, says, "We are working with real people; no sets, no make up and with barely any props. They have to envision the film the same way you see it. Their delivery can make or break a film; too many retakes can kill the moment. But once you've established a strong connection with them, there's no turning back."