Saumya Tewari

Mahindra: Rising to the Occasion

As Mahindra Group's 'Spark the Rise' campaign enters its third year, the company launches 'Rise Prize', an innovation challenge to build the nascent innovation ecosystem in India.

Mahindra: Rising to the Occasion

In a bid to propel India into the next orbit of innovation, the Mahindra Group has launched 'Rise Prize', which offers $1 million to drive globally relevant and disruptive innovations while helping build a culture of innovation in India.

Mahindra: Rising to the Occasion
Mahindra: Rising to the Occasion
The initiative will start with the Mobility Challenge, which invites solutions for driverless cars in India. The benefits of an effective solution include decreased road mortality rates, lower driver fatigue, increased environmental friendliness and making transportation more inclusive for people that are differently-abled.

The second phase, Solar Challenge, aims to make solar energy products more accessible to the population at large with a DIY Rooftop Solar Kit.

Hitting the campaign trail

To promote this, the group has launched a new campaign 'Rise Prize - World Class from India' which aims to inform viewers and generate participation. The film sets the tone with an opening shot of a Kashmiri girl sitting under a tree when an apple falls on her shoulder (no prizes for guessing what this indicates). The next shot shows a man immersing himself in a bathtub. It then goes on to feature a series of innocuous everyday situations that led to revolutionary discoveries and innovations. The campaign ends with the voiceover, "Ideas are everywhere. Can the next big idea that changes the world come from right here, in India?"

Says Raj Kamble, founder and chief creative officer, Famous Innovations, which executed the campaign, says, "The idea was to make people wonder why great innovation is not happening in our nation. We asked ourselves, 'a hundred Newtons and Einsteins are born every day in India. Where do they disappear?' That sparked off the creative thinking process."

The film, primarily, released on digital, will be promoted on television in the 30- and 45-second format. There will also be a print and OOH leg of the campaign. Directed by Ravi Udyavar, the ad film was shot in Kashmir, Mumbai and Pune over a span of three days and it features regular actors as well as first-timers. The narrator is the renowned voice-over specialist and TV actor, Ninad Kamat.

The background score has been composed by JSM New York, which works with brands like Nike. Released in English, the Hindi version will follow. Regional language versions will depend on the response to this film.

The offshoot

B. Karthik, senior general manager - Corporate Brand, Mahindra & Mahindra tells us that the Rise Prize is a part of the 'Spark the Rise' (STR) initiative, which was launched in 2011. STR is a platform that connects entrepreneurs to resources, features innovators on television, and connects passionate individuals with the country's most influential and powerful figures through the Amazing Indians programme. To date, STR, with over 330,000 users, has raised funding worth $1 million, awarded 100 grants, built over 20 partnerships, generated over 1.3 million votes and currently has nearly 2,000 live projects in operation.

According to Karthik, the STR platform, in the last two years, has not only contributed to the brand equity of Mahindra, but also inspired people to believe in the power of the grassroots movement to drive change. "This year, we decided to extend the platform to cover disruptive innovation. Thus was born the Rise Prize," he explains.

Mahindra is targeting people between 18 and 30 years, research, IT and engineering professionals, students studying related fields and start-ups. There are five phases in each challenge - Application (online), Approach Note, Live Presentation, Prototype and Full Solution. There is an independent panel of jury members consisting of industry experts, academicians and business professionals for each challenge.

Participating teams have a set of guidelines consisting of objectives and evaluation criteria which are available on the Spark the Rise website. The complete process of jury evaluation will be monitored and reviewed by process advisors Ernst & Young. Mahindra has no claims whatsoever on a team's intellectual property (IP). It does not have any rights or privileges to incorporate or own any of the ideas coming out of Rise Prize. The company has allocated a media budget of Rs 3 crore.

Giving back to the society

Mahindra: Rising to the Occasion
Mahindra: Rising to the Occasion
Although well executed, the experts we spoke to believe that the campaign needs a voice that talks directly to today's generation cutting across the geographical and language boundaries. Joy Mohanty, senior executive creative director, Publicis Capital believes that the campaign delivers the message loud and clear. The million-dollar cash prize will attract eyeballs, but "the announcement for the search of a world-changing idea could have been more inspiring, if it had tuned in to the power of what the Ankitas and the Rohans of today can do, rather than talk of what the Newtons and Archimedes have already done," he argues.

Marketing professional Vineet Trakroo, who now heads his independent consultancy, Evolution Strategy Advisors LLP as CEO and chief evolution officer notes that the campaign does attract the entrepreneur in a compelling manner but he stresses that while ideas can come from small towns, the same can be strengthened to increase entries. "By increasing the reach in smaller towns by mobile apps and adverting and using regional language, this campaign can get a much better reach and response," he suggests.

Trakroo points out that corporates and brands must contribute to society, which in turn, increases their social equity and consumer connect. He refers to Shell's use of low carbon technologies, Pepsi's rainwater harvesting, Tata's housing schemes for Parsis, cancer hospitals and institutes of fundamental research, Tata Tea's dovetailing of social issues into its brand communication and Fab India whose genesis is on rural (read ethnic) sourcing, which creates rural jobs. He feels that brand Mahindra has the 'consumer connect' but the same has not yet been exploited in their communication.

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