It has been scripted by Ogilvy India's Nikhil Narayanan and designed by Vidyanath PA.
Science says our attention span today is shorter than that of a Goldfish, which, by the way, can concentrate on the 'flakes' for nine seconds before being distracted by a foreign particle floating right next to it. In times like these, a pictorial message can speak louder than several words put together to make sense. However, the almost 300-word-long World Wildlife Day ad published in The Hindu on March 3, 2020, surprisingly garnered more attention than its copywriter Nikhil Narayanan expected it to.
A creative director at Ogilvy India, Nikhil believes that irrespective of the times, people like good stories. Although it's challenging in the era of flash fiction and short format content, “A gripping narrative will always be consumed,” he adds.
'Meet the Dumbest Creature on the Planet' opens by introducing the readers to the ‘stupid’ sea turtles, who can't differentiate between a plastic bag and a jellyfish – which supposedly is its favourite food. By gobbling up the floating plastic bags, the sea turtles are on the brink of extinction.
The copy goes on to talk about the most intelligent species on this planet – 'Humans', who have the power to dream, amongst other things. Towards the end, in a swift drift, lies the core message – “The geniuses (human) that put a vehicle on the red planet, a man on the faraway moon, and that plastic bag in the vast ocean. The same one that killed that stupid turtle.”
The turtle, Olive Ridley to be precise, is very close to the newspaper, Nikhil tells us. “That's because a lot of turtle conservation happens in Chennai. That was the opportunity. Our team took it with open arms,” he shares.
Nikhil, who has been in the creative copywriting field for almost one-and-a-half decade now, had the idea in his head for a month or so before sitting down to put it on paper. “Once the structure is set in your mind, writing is just a byproduct,” he says. When he finally did draft it and pushed it on to the client’s desk for approval, unlike the expected long list of corrections, The Hindu, who as a client is always looking for ideas with a cause, chose not to change a single punctuation mark in the copy.
Speaking of his collaboration with the ad's art director Vidyanath PA, Nikhil says it was seamless. “I made him read the copy. He was impressed. And mind you, he is not someone who can be easily impressed. Once that happened, he worked his magic like he often does. He said the copy is powerful and that he will create a layout that does not interfere, but amplify the effect of writing," Nikhil shares.
When we asked him about the virality of the ad, he recalls that it all started with a bunch of his colleagues sharing it on social media. “Soon it started getting traction outside the ad circuit. And before I knew it, my inboxes across social platforms started getting flooded.”