Shreyas Kulkarni
Advertising

"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu

As FPJ breaks the record for the longest-running print campaign on COVID awareness, Padhi gives us a peek behind this print success story.

'A good print ad a day keeps the pandemic anxiety away'. This inspired phrase is what Mumbai-based daily Free Press Journal (FPJ) looks to have absorbed during the days of April and May when India was locked in.

Teaming up with advertising agency Taproot Dentsu, the 93-year-old newspaper brand carried print creatives everyday for its 'Fight against Corona Virus' initiative that aimed to act as a creative reminder to help inculcate new habits and a new mindset among readers.

"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu
"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu
"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu
"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu
"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu
"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu

This initiative is the longest-running print campaign with 58 different creatives that ran back to back from 4th April - 31st May (End of 4th lockdown). The first, full, front-page ad featured on 4th April 2020 followed by a dozen more, consecutive, full-page ads each day. All the aids spoke out issues related to the pandemic and lockdown.

Santosh Padhi, cco and co-founder of Taproot Dentsu said, "We told them (FPJ) that can we address the same issue as a visual led ad story that communicates in a simple way instead of boring mundane write-ups."

"The issue became the brief for us," remarked the cco when we inquired on how they chose the topic for the next day's print ad. He revealed that they chose the topic of the highest priority from the many that would crop up each day of those 40-50 days.

"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu
"The issue became the brief for us": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu

Padhi mentions, in particular, the print ads they ran to shine a light on the migrant crisis. Taproot Dentsu made a creative that featured walking migrants alongside the talking politicians. It also made one for the drivers who transported the migrants to their homes at great risk to their lives.

And while the agency ensured to choose topics of priority, it followed one cardinal rule: never take a negative stance. "Anything that felt negative, we would kill it then and there," said Padhi to emphasise the value of being positive during these negative times.

Abhishek Karnani, Director, FPJ, said, "... It started as a simple, heartfelt initiative to address our readers and remind then about steps for prevention of Covid-19.

But the response we got, initially through our e-paper, and later through the physical paper, inspired us to sustain the momentum and keep going on, with digital videos on social media too. Since the campaign has struck a chord with our readers, we intend to continue the campaign till we manage to completely get rid of the virus..."

And while at it, the client (FPJ) seems a gem regarding approvals after Padhi revealed that he would call or text Abhishek Karnani, Director, FPJ and mention the topic he'd chosen for the next day's ad and Karnanai would give his nod and only intervened if there was a technical issue related to it.

Padhi told us it's because of Karnani's respect for him and the creative work the agency does. Such has been the success of this campaign that FPJ has made Taproot's print ad format the newspaper's philosophy for any future post-COVID societal issue India goes through. Padhi mentioned an upcoming Diwali campaign that will promote a cracker-less festival.

The creative style

We were curious about the print ads that fused two elements to present a message and inquired Padhi about how it was ideated. His response? "... A visual needs to be simple yet you should have joy once you get it..."

But like all successful work, it didn't come to the agency right away. He said they'd (Taproot) arrive at the nicest and simplest blends but also saw many creatives as jarring and would promptly junk it.

Print in today's time

It's no surprise that Padhi is a fan of print. In a previous conversation with afaqs! Taproot Dentsu's co-founder said that he feels print isn’t treated the way it should be. "We can do a wonderful story in 10x10," he said, but people are more interested in other mediums. Padhi recalled the time when TV made its entry, and everyone was hooked to it. According to him, everyone wanted to do TV, and print was relegated to the middle and junior guys."

Today, he told us that everything is an opportunity and can bring you fame if done well and signed off saying, "We're living in a world where mediums are blending. A great print ad can go viral or a great TV campaign can get mentioned in print or vice versa..." It's all about the idea.