Shreyas Kulkarni

CEAT thanks truckers, the invisible champions of the lockdown, in new ad film

Ogilvy's Rohit Dubey, the ad’s copywriter as well as the voice-over artiste, explains how the magic took place...

We have a lot of people to thank for the services they've provided during lockdown. Doctors, retailers, law enforcement officers, delivery personnel, ambulance drivers... the list goes on.

One name, however, which doesn't immediately come to mind is that of truckers, or truck drivers. Yes, the people who drive those heavy-duty vehicles across India's national highways, ensuring essential goods reach the markets on time.

During lockdown, these truckers have come under immense pressure because interstate travel is barred. Yet, they have driven under great stress and hardships to reach their destinations, or as close to it as possible.

CEAT, the leading tyre maker, has now released an ad thanking them. Created by Ogilvy and called 'The Unsung Heroes', the minute-long film takes us on the same journey a trucker goes through. All throughout the ad, one can hear beautiful words about their life and times.

Rohit Dubey
Rohit Dubey

Rohit Dubey, group creative director, Ogilvy, says, "We've seen the lives of the truckers from all these years. They basically live out of their vehicles, which is like their second home... Their lives are tough, they have to fight against bad weather, terrain, and everything the system throws at them, from toll nakas to detours..."

The film mentions 'makaan chalte hain', which means 'homes that move'. Dubey says, "The driving metaphor of 'makaan chalte hai' came from the fact that they (truckers) practically live there, their 'grahisti' is inside that home and then to nuance that metaphor all the other lines came out..."

The Ogilvy team played with the concept of 'The sun rises and the moon sets'. Says Dubey, "Travelling night and day, 'kai sooraj niklate, kai chaand dhalte hai' ('The sun rises and the moon sets'). We played a bit here because the truckers drive during the night, too, and so day and night are equal to them."

Speaking of the 'makaan chalte hai' metaphor, Dubey said, "In India, it's very poetic, outside, it is very generic." Why? Because there's a recreational vehicle (RV) and motor home culture in the west that does not exist in India, unless you count the movie 'Swades', which sort of introduced the concept to most Indians.

Dubey isn’t just the ad’s copywriter, but the voice-over artiste, too. "I recorded myself on my office laptop at 2 in the night because that's the time when the birds don't chirp (a positive sign of the lockdown, nature is blooming), and I voiced it in the way I wrote the ad," he tells us.

It is interesting to note that this is the second Ogilvy employee we've spoken to in a week who's also worked as the ad‘s voice-over artiste. The first being Piyush Pandey for an Asian Paints ad.

Dubey's response, "When leaders do it, juniors will follow..."

Most ads during lockdown include still images, or old footage. This one was clean, and the colour grading was excellent. It didn't look like an ad shot during lockdown.

"The clips are a mixed bunch of footage, which we bought from various vendors... and we were wary of the fact that it all seems pasted together, but somehow we managed a good colour tone and now it looks more homogeneous," explains Dubey.

"We weren't getting footage for the line '... hasi mazaak chutkule' because we wanted to show the rear of the truck, which said, 'has mat pagli, pyaar ho jayega', and things like that (we weren't getting footage for that because it's written in small at the back of the truck)... We had to stay satisfied with the shot of the driver and cleaner talking."

Despite the challenges, Dubey is happy that he got to work on this film. "In these times, the tyre category is so relevant. This is the right time for the brand to speak up, and we're glad we had this piece of communication showing solidarity at this time."

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