Need to provoke creative people to give their best: Ramesh Narayan

Rooted in the strong belief of ‘Advertising/ communication has to be a force for good’, the Advertising Club (TAC) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) have joined forces to launch a pioneering campaign to highlight the serious issue of violence against women. The creatives of the ongoing campaign encapsulate the need for raising our voices against the atrocities faced by women and making a difference.

Explaining the thought behind the initiative, Raj Nayak, President, The Advertising Club, said, “From governments to Fortune 500 companies, everybody entrusts us to communicate their agenda to the larger public. It is time to take our combined learnings and experience to devise a campaign that is in the interests of this larger public. To this end, we will be running a national search for a multi-media campaign that will aim to mitigate violence against women. I am confident that, as one, our industry will rise to pool in the highly creative resources at our disposal, to come up with a highly creative and effective communication campaign. We will fund the production of the wining campaign and launch it at GoaFest in April 2017.”

While speaking to Adgully about the coming together of AAAI and TAC for the ideation of the campaign, Ramesh Narayan, Chairperson of the Abbys at Goafest 2017, said, “Last year, for the first time we had introduced a new category called the Young Abby. The idea was to recognise and encourage the younger talent. We were to give them a hypothetical topic and ask them to create a campaign. So, the topic that I chose was gender violence. While I was thinking that what are the topics that we should have for this year’s Young Abby it occurred to us that here was a theoretical topic and campaign for a very real subject.”

Elaborating further on the sensitivity of the topic, Narayan added, “Violence against women has been on the rise, anytime you switch on your TV, in newspapers, you read about it and see it every day. And we also felt that here is a subject that concerns each and every one of us. Women form an important part of our lives – in the form of mother, daughter, sister, wife, girlfriend. So we said, why don’t we as an industry take up this cause. I don’t think as an industry we have ever taken up any social cause like this together. We were also thinking about the fact that, as far as creative resources and media linkages go, no other industry can actually match us. With all this strength we should really be doing something good. And so the idea came that why don’t we have a national search for the best campaign to mitigate violence against women.”

The Call for Entries campaign has been conceptualised and designed by FCB Ulka. Speaking on the campaign, Keegan Pinto, National Creative Director, FCB Ulka, said, “Some impactful messaging addressing crimes against women is simply the need of the hour. If we can make even the smallest difference and make one person change, or prevent one incident from happening, our job is done. No advertising is greater than the home environment or the grooming of children to better this epidemic, but impactful communication can, as we know, cause a stir and make a small dent, especially if it is share-worthy.”

The deadline for sending in entries to the AAAI is February 15, 2017. The entries would be judged by an elite jury and the winning entries will be produced as a multimedia campaign and released on April 7, 2017at the Goafest.

While the campaign has been generating very strong reactions on social media, we asked Narayan if the campaign was unintentionally provocative or it was crafted to generate such reactions. To this he replied, “The campaign which we are talking about is crafted for ‘Call for Entries’. It is not the real campaign itself. This is the campaign that has been made pro-bono by FCB Ulka. To generate the brief, we actually spoke to two very respected women’s rights NGOs. And we got them to vet the brief. We also ran the campaign past them and I have not had any negative reactions from them. As far as the reaction which you are referring to, this campaign has been aimed at the creative community in our industry only. These are very well educated creative people who have to be motivated to come out with the best campaign that they can. You have to be able to catch their eye and in a sense provoke them to give their best. No one is that particular segment has reacted negatively. No creative person has reacted in that way and my audience is that. I am not concerned about any other reaction, because whoever has reacted in the way, they are not my audience first of all.”

Narayan further said that in this kind of a creative approach there would be some who would like it and some who won’t. “We need to accept the fact that people are entitled to their opinions and I respect them. There was only one negative comment on one of the posts on my Facebook wall, followed by three positive comments from women’s rights groups. I didn’t delete any of them and kept them all as we feel that we need to be sensitive to all opinions,” he added.

When asked about how the industry bodies plan to take this message forward beyond Goafest, the ad veteran explained, “The campaign that wins our competition will be funded by The Advertising Club(TAC) and The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) to be made into a real campaign. The industry will pay significant amount of money to convert it into a real campaign. After that, with the help of GroupM, who have committed a very senior team for this, it will run across media and the country for a month. The campaign will be launched at Goafest on April 7. From April 8 onwards it will be launched across the country as a proper high-powered multi- media campaign on television, print, digital and outdoor. I am sure the media will also support us very well in this journey to make it visible to a wider audience and I am hopeful that it will have more positive impact.”

Narayan is also hopeful that the ad industry will continue to associate itself with such causes in the times to come. He added, “It should not be a one-off effort. I would be very happy if the industry takes up one issue each year. Because there is no lack of issues and no lack of creativity in our industry. The leadership of The Ad Club and AAAI – Raj Nayak, Nakul Chopra and Ashish Bhasin – have responded so positively and spontaneously to this entire theme that it makes me feel that our industry is in good hands today.”

Is there more to see and ponder on? “I think the foundation, the stage and the tone of what is good has been set over the last year and this year. In fact, last year we also introduced a new category – Gender Sensitivity in Advertising – which will be there this year as well. Advertising or communication has to be a force for good. For this campaign to mitigate violence against women, there is no Abby award or cash prize for the winner and we deliberately kept it like this because our thought process was that this campaign is not for glory, this campaign is for good. You can’t expect to have an Abby award on stage, it has to come from your heart. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us. The stage and tone has been set and I am hopeful that in the year ahead, because I don’t think I will accept to be AGC Chairman again, it will even hit the stage in the future to actually carry the torch in the right way,” Narayan concluded.


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