Abid Hussain Barlaskar

BJP's 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' campaign revives old Center Fresh ad

Almost a decade after its creation, a Center Fresh ad has popped up on social media in a political context.

Ads, essentially brand communications, usually have a purpose and tend to gradually fade away from public memory once that purpose is served... or not. At times, some of these communications live on and surface for various relevant occasions. Among the latest examples is Center Fresh's 'Bank Robbery' TVC from 2011. The old ad is now being used to target the Bharatiya Janta Party's (BJP) #MainBhiChowkidaar campaign.

BJP's 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' campaign revives old Center Fresh ad

Center Fresh's Bank Robbery-Bajrangi ad from 2011

The chewing-gum ad features a masked thief who robs a bank at gunpoint and exits the premises without being caught. However, once a bank employee shouts out to the security for help, the robber returns post haste in response to the cries. As it turns out, the robber was none other than the bank's very own security guard who, out of habit, simply showed up when called and is thus, apprehended.

The BJP's 'chowkidar' (watchman) identity was born when the party projected PM Narendra Modi as the watchman who would guard the nation's wealth against corruption.

However, the Congress party, headed by Rahul Gandhi, hit back with "Chowkidar Chor Hai" (the watchman is a thief) targeting Modi over alleged irregularities in the Indo-French Rafale defence deal.

On March 16, PM Modi responded with a tweet - #MainBhiChowkidar - while also adding a 'Chowkidar' prefix to his name. Supporters and party members followed suit.

We spotted the ad in a post by a social media influencer on Facebook and naturally, it got our attention because of its politically relevant context.

The Center Fresh ad was created by Ogilvy (then Ogilvy & Mather) Mumbai and produced by Corcoise Films. It was in line with the brand's proposition of "Zubaan pe rakhe lagaam". In the ad, the guard was caught for being a careless blabbermouth.

During the launch of the campaign, Sameer Suneja, then CEO - Perfetti Van Melle (Center Fresh's parent company), was quoted as saying, "Every year, the attempt is to present a refreshing idea to bring forward the message 'Zubaan pe rakhe lagaam'. The new campaign highlights the brand value in an interesting way, with the TVC leaving the consumer smiling."

It seems like we're still smiling 10 years later.

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