Thursday, October 23, 2008

Waking up to Tata Tea

As elections begin appearing on the horizon, two socially relevant advertisements are being aired on television. Both are sponsored by Tata Tea and are a good blend of brand promotion and social content. In one of them, a candidate seeking votes approaches a home in the typical loud and boisterous style. He is asked by the young man in the house to explain his qualifications, area of competence and work experience. The politician guffaws loudly walks out asking if he was being interviewed for a job as in the background, the young man counters that indeed he was foe the politician was in the running for the biggest job of them all… the job of wanting to run a whole nation.

There is another one. In this, it is election day and a bunch of young people are hanging around making plans; no not about elections or voting or any thing like that. They are planning some thing else. They are planning to go to a movie; making the most of the public holiday that election day is. When a bunch of activists go up to them and ask them to have some tea and wake up, one of the girls perks up to say “I am not sleeping, OK? The deftly delivered punch line is “election ke din, agar aap vote nahin de rahein hain, to aap so rahein hain”.

Tata Tea’s partnership with the group Jaago Re is worth recounting. As indeed is the extremely noteworthy mission of registering and motivating one billion people or the whole of India’s adult population to vote and helping them to do so with practical tips and help. The creatively produced film is so refreshing because it makes social advertising so different from the normal patronizing messages from celebrities that we are so used to – remember Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh hectoring reluctant parents to take their kids to the immunization booth for their polio drops as the UNICEF logo hovers in the background?

The reputation and production levels of government sponsored (mostly) social messages and advertisements was such that in the days, when they were aired before the commencement of movies in cinema halls (in the pre television era mostly), people would try and time their entry into the halls after they were over. Dull and dowdy and extremely preachy in tone, they would talk down at the audience in an extremely patronizing and moralizing tone and probably put off even those inclined to listen.

By establishing and building on the link between waking up to one’s social responsibilities and waking up in the morning to a cup of Tea – (Tata Tea of course !), the commercial brand is introduced unobtrusively into the message without it ever appearing to be forced or artificial. In fact, in the film, those who are found to be oblivious of their social responsibilities as citizens of the country are deemed to be sleeping and in dire need of a cup of tea so that they can wake up and begin shouldering their duties as citizens, in the first instance by exercising their right and duty to vote! Tata Tea incidentally has produced other films with a similar mix – notably one dealing with poor road construction and another dealing with the meance of pan stains in public buildings and offices. Watch them and enjoy with a sip of Tata Tea !

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