Shreyas Kulkarni

The stories that still breathe; Britannia uses gen AI to illustrate the tales of India’s last living freedom fighters

The ‘1947% More History’ takes on the deluge of 15th August ads, and offers a heart-touching alternative.

History with all the time under its hands has limitations; some stories are lost in it, never to see the light of day. Britannia wielding the powers of generative AI through Talented and Rooted Films intended to save some of these stories from eternal vanishment.

These are tales of our last living freedom fighters whose actions when they were 12 or 14 or 16 years of age ultimately helped India gain independence from the British Raj.

The ‘1947% More History’ campaign tells the stories of nonagenarians Shrimati Leela tai, Lt. Asha Sahay, Lt. R Madhavan, Lakshmi Krishnan Agvl., and Shri Gour Hari Das.

All one needs to do is visit this microsite, and choose a particular Britannia product either by scanning it in the real world or its picture on the net. Once it is done, generative AI recounts the tale of a particular freedom fighter from the five.

The campaign illustrates how every single Britannia product in so many ways tries to tell the stories of history. For instance, the Good Day biscuit whose ridges resemble a smile unpacks the story of ‘The Army of Smiles’.

Scan the Good Day biscuit, and you have 94-year-old Lt. Asha Sahay who narrates her story. She says that when she, as a teenager, was put behind bars, she used to smile, and feel really happy because she was making the sacrifice to fight for the nation's independence.

Not all stories of freedom fighters find their way to museums, libraries, and history textbooks. On the other hand, Britannia is part of nearly every Indian household.

“Is there a way when something lying around you in your home could tell that story especially when a library or museum or a history textbook cannot do that,” Binaifer Dulani, founding member and creative, Talented, recounts the genesis of this campaign.

Members of Rooted Films and Talented, the production house and creative agency behind the campaign respectively, met India's last few living freedom fighters first-hand. “A lot of this comes from taking their stories and representing them in the best possible way,” says Dulani.

Brut, a news video company, helped them get in touch with these freedom fighters.

The great flood

Come 15th August or any big festival or public holiday, every communication touch point is flooded with discount offers.

Dulani, as an observer and an affected party, bemoans the barrage of retail offers one is subjected to before and on Independence Day. These “20% more, 30% more, 40% more…” call-to-action, she reveals, paved the way, for Britannia’s campaign.

“How can we break the mould of offers given out of Independence Day and offer something priceless and sentimental, and therefore '1947% More History' was born,” she remarks.

Painting a faded visceral memory

“When I spoke to Lt. Ashah Sahey, she'd keep misquoting her age but be very specific about the colour of the saree which she wearing when she was marching in the trenches,” reveals Varun Khiatani, strategy and technology, Talented.

Painting such memories to life was Talented and Rooted’s main challenge. The film’s treatment makes use of generative AI but it, as per Ronak Chugh, was not something the makers intended to use before they started working on the campaign. He is the director of this film.

While speaking to the freedom fighters, he saw a certain fadedness and specificity to their memories and “it seemed like no stock footage or shooting could have done justice to that. And the nascent stage at which generative AI for video is right now, it seemed like a natural fit.”

When asked if an illustrator or an animator or an art person was not involved because generative AI offered affordability and convenience, Chugh disagreed.

He stresses it is not about replacing people and reveals that he, his director of photography, his editor, his producer, his prompt engineer, and Khiatani generated the clips.

“It has almost become a cliche now that 'Oh, you won't be replaced by AI, you will be replaced by someone who uses AI'. This is a good example,” remarks Dulani.

The film’s first version to appear archival, immersing people in it and keeping them from realising the use of generative AI.

The first stage was using text to video tool that Khiatani had introduced to the makers of the film. Then came the image-to-video program, followed by tools for face swapping.

“My hard disk by the end of it had 700 clips that we generated out of which we used 18,” remarks Chugh.

Countless offers and ads will hit consumers in the coming 24 to 36 hours. Most will ask them to buy a product or use its services. In such a deluge, one can wonder what such a campaign does for a brand.

Says Dulani, “Any kind of elevated storytelling especially when a brand puts itself out as a personality ultimately helps create greater affinity.” This, she believes, is especially important during a time of little to no differentiation between products.

Brands may go the deep discounting route, but it will burn them in the long run. What will instead propel a brand to greater heights is its value system.

Campaign Credits

Britannia Industries

Chief Marketing Officer - Amit Doshi

Head Digital Marketing & PR – Dipti Sudhir

Brand Manager – Pavanshu Aggarwal

Digital Manager – Prabakaran K

PR Manager – Vignesh Shankar

E-Com Manager – Utkrishat Vineet

Team Talented

Aabhaas Shreshta

Aaliya Sheikh

Amith Nair

Balaji P

Binaifer Dulani

Diya Manek

Devargh Mukherjee

Dhruv Shingala

Karthik Nambiar

PG Aditiya 

Prashant Gopalakrishnan

Radhika Subramanian

Samyu Murali

Sandipan Deb

Tasha Dsilva

Varun Khiatani

Yash Dugar

Rooted films 

Ronak Chugh

Yash Shanghavi 

Tech - Web Dimension

Achint Bhatnagar

Kaushal Verma

Kalpit Dwivedi

Mihir Mainkar

Ram Pratap Singh

Sachin Kaushik

Vishal Singh

Brut India

Aakash K

Anjali Bhardwaj

Barkha Goenka

Mehul Munjpara

Saima Iqbal

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