One for the Road

En­forc­ing traf­fic rules, Ak­shay Ku­mar style.

The Brand Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­nit Roy su­nit.roy@afaqs.com

For those who break road rules with im­punity, here is some­thing that will make you stop and think. The Min­istry of Road Trans­port and High­ways (MORTH) has used hu­mour via a new ad cam­paign fea­tur­ing Ak­shay Ku­mar. Ti­tled ‘Sadak Su­rak­sha Jee­van Rak­sha’, the cam­paign high­lights the use of the rather crude, but com­mon line - ‘Tu jaanta nahi mera baap kaun hai?’ - fre­quently used by those on the road who in­dulge in mak­ing a mock­ery of traf­fic rules.

The tongue-in-cheek nar­ra­tive, scripted and di­rected by R. Balki and pro­duced by Hope Pro­duc­tions, strikes a chord. The cam­paign is a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort in­volv­ing Bharat Dab­holkar, Ki­ran Vernekar, Say­ali Kulka­rni, and Divya Rad­hakr­ish­nan through He­lios Me­dia (the me­dia agency for the ac­count).

“It was an in­stinc­tive cam­paign with very in­stinc­tive in­sight - peo­ple think that they own the whole world, thus the line - ‘Baap ka Road’. I did an in-depth study of how peo­ple break rules be­fore script­ing the sto­ry­line,” Balki explains, ac­knowl­edg­ing that MORTH gave him a free hand. It was a sim­ple brief: ‘Tell peo­ple not to break traf­fic rules’.

Re­calls Balki, “The mo­ment I told them the idea (sto­ry­line) they were re­ally ex­cited. In fact, it was like a client who knew what to com­mu­ni­cate and the power of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

In terms of re­search, the cre­ative team had the back­ing of MORTH’s data from across In­dia. The cause of ac­ci­dents re­ported was a pa­ram­e­ter to de­ter­mine the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Newer is­sues - wear­ing seat-belts and mo­bile phone us­age while mo­tor­ing - had to be high­lighted and it had to reach out to the youth, in par­tic­u­lar. Ap­proval from Nitin Gad­kari, the min­is­ter, was in­stant.

“We worked for a year-and-ahalf, putting out var­i­ous routes for devel­op­ment and tests. We shot a film with Gad­kari and fol­lowed it up with the Ak­shay Ku­mar cam­paign,” in­forms Rad­hakr­ish­nan, manag­ing di­rec­tor, He­lios Me­dia. She adds, “Say­ali (Kulka­rni), vice pres­i­dent of the BJP youth wing, Mumbai, who has been do­ing a lot of work in the so­cial space, ap­proached the cen­tral min­istry to cre­ate a com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the youth on road-safety. On get­ting an in-prin­ci­ple ap­proval, she ap­proached our con­sor­tium wherein

In terms of re­search, the cre­ative team had all of MORTH’s data from across the coun­try.

“Ak­shay and I had great fun do­ing Pad Man. We had the same kind of fun do­ing this so­cial­lyrel­e­vant cam­paign.”

R BALKI

Dab­holkar (cre­ative lead) along with Vernekar and I put the whole project to­gether through He­lios Me­dia.”

The cam­paign has a spe­cial fo­cus on ra­dio, out­door (the point of use space), dig­i­tal (ap­peal to the youth), and TV (for the masses). With mul­ti­ple legs, it will be re­leased in eight lan­guages. So, why Ak­shay Ku­mar? “Ak­shay is cur­rently a face of so­cial mes­sag­ing across his body of lat­est work in Bol­ly­wood. Also, he cuts across gen­er­a­tions of au­di­ences, given the phase of life he is in,” explains Rad­hakr­ish­nan.

In­ter­est­ingly, when the He­lios Me­dia team ap­proached the Bol­ly­wood star for the cam­paign, it was Ak­shay who pro­posed Balki’s name. The Pad Man star ac­com­pa­nied the cre­ative team while the cam­paign was pitched to Gad­kari.

“Ak­shay was go­ing on va­ca­tion in June, but he gave me a day’s time. From 7am to 1pm we shot all three films, back to back. Ak­shay vol­un­teered to do this cam­paign, with­out charg­ing money,” in­forms Balki, adding, “We had great fun do­ing Pad Man to­gether. And we had the same kind of fun do­ing this so­cially-rel­e­vant cam­paign too.”

HIT OR FLOP?

Gov­ern­ment cam­paigns - such as Po­lio Mukt Bharat with Amitabh Bachchan and Nir­mal Bharat Ab­hiyan, with Vidya Balan - are melo­dra­matic or se­ri­ous. We sought ex­perts’ views on this cam­paign.

Ac­cord­ing to Sirish Su­veer G, vice pres­i­dent, Publi­cis Am­bi­ence, “the choice of Ak­shay Ku­mar is a mas­ter­stroke. The hu­mour, yet se­ri­ous­ness, is flaw­lessly de­liv­ered. My per­sonal favourite is ‘Lok­manya Ti­lak’; the build-up by Ak­shay Ku­mar has suf­fi­cient in­trigue and the pro­tag­o­nist’s ex­pres­sions are clas­sic. It builds in the shame beau­ti­fully.”

Ayan Banik, head - brand strat­egy, Cheil In­dia, feels that the in­sight - ‘road kisi ke baap ka nahin hai’ - is very po­tent and rel­e­vant in a coun­try where we tend to take pub­lic prop­erty for granted and flout rules and reg­u­la­tions, think­ing it’s our birthright to do so. He awards it full marks for latch­ing on to a very re­lat­able and rel­e­vant in­sight to high­light the most com­mon rules flouted by motorists. “We have been ex­posed to var­i­ous forms of pub­lic ser­vice mes­sag­ing around road­safety for over four decades. The chal­lenge was how to re­it­er­ate an oft-re­peated mes­sag­ing and yet make it en­gag­ing and in­ter­est­ing to watch. The cam­paign does full jus­tice to that,” says Banik.

He adds, “It’s not just driv­ers and rid­ers. Of­ten, traf­fic rules are flouted by pedes­tri­ans too. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that there will be an­other set of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with equally pow­er­ful in­sights and ex­e­cu­tion that will sen­si­tise pedes­tri­ans about re­spon­si­ble road­safety be­hav­iour as well.” ■

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