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India @75: Josy Paul on Mahatma Gandhi & the biggest idea called ‘Freedom’

As India gears up to celebrate her 75th year of Independence, we at Adgully are tracing the journey of Advertising and its contribution to the Indian society at large – whether it is bringing about a change in mindsets, or a societal pattern, or empowering different communities or ushering in new thoughts – basically, Soch badal ke rakh diya.

Our aim is to collate 75 most impressive and significant ways in which Advertising has impacted India over the decades. For this, we are reaching out to the Advertising Honchos of India to share the most significant contributions of Advertising to the Indian society and why they consider them to be important developments. We will serialise the story on Adgully’s website in the lead-up to the Independence Day this year in this special series: India @75 – Through the Advertising Lens.

In an interaction with Adgully, Josy Paul, Chairman, and CCO, BBDO India, makes an interesting correlation between the Indian advertising creativity with India’s fight for Independence and our search for identity. He also lists some of the landmark ad campaigns that have brought about social changes over the years.

Mahatma Gandhi was the creative director of a big idea called ‘Freedom’. Gandhiji leveraged simple actions and symbolic gestures (like the ‘Salt March’) to create movements that led to India’s Independence. Many of the brand movements that we’ve created at BBDO India have been inspired by these behavioural principles. That’s why we say ‘Create Acts, Not Ads’.

India’s advertising creativity is a by-product of India’s Independence and our search for identity.

In 1988, the national integration video, ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’, spread the idea of unity – it instilled a sense of pride amongst Indians, highlighting India’s different linguistic communities and societies.

Around the same time, in 1989, ‘Hamara Bajaj’, the campaign by Bajaj Auto, promoted India’s confidence to be self-reliant.

In 2010, the campaign for ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ re-imagined the idea of success with the tagline ‘Koi Bhi Sawaal Chota Nahi Hota’ (English: Every question is important. Literally: No question is too small).

In 2014, the campaign by P&G Whisper ‘Touch the pickle’ created a platform for Indian women to question and discuss period taboos. The campaign made a positive impact on social change and empowered women to be ‘unstoppable’.

In 2015, P&G Ariel got more Indian men to change behaviour and take equal responsibility for household chores with the highly recognized ‘Share the load’ campaign.

In the year 2008, Tata Tea launched its very first campaign – ‘Jaago Re’ – with an aim to ‘awaken’ the entire nation to the fact that they tend to hold the government accountable for various mishaps and encouraged them to participate in the functioning of the country’s politics by voting. By launching a website, ‘Jaago Re’ facilitated voter registrations, which enabled an extensive call out to the youth of the nation and encouraged them to vote.


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