New Delhi: United Colors of Benetton (UCB) India has launched its first India-centric digital film O ne Faith to celebrate the country’s 70th Independence Day.
Created by a micro-fiction social media platform, Terribly Tiny Tales, along with Fingerprints Films, the film revolves around the sensitive issue of Hindu-Muslim divide.
The more than three-minute-long film begins with a young man wearing a skull-cap walking across the narrow lanes of an urban slum.
Purposefully, he starts collecting his friends as they march towards their destination.
The camera cuts to another man who delivers a message to a bunch of friends playing carom. A moment later, this group of youngsters also starts walking behind a man wearing a tilak (vermillion) on his forehead establishing his religious identity. As the music starts building up, the video features men from both the groups, holding glass bottles, bricks and sticks, walking furiously. Just when the viewer expects the worst to happen, the film shows both the groups battling it out—albeit on a cricket pitch.
The possible assault items become the props (bricks, bottles and sticks are used to form wickets) of the game that brings the two communities together.
Directed by Fingerprints Films’ director Karan Shetty, the film has been shot in Mumbai’s Worli village. It is being promoted on Benetton’s Facebook page as well as Terribly Tiny Tales’s social media and YouTube channels.
Chintan Ruparel, co-founder, Terribly Tiny Tales, said, “The brief was to create a heartwarming Independence Day film that is in sync with UCB’s values. Having worked with UCB for producing stories for a year, TTT understands the brand well by now. We have coined the #UnitedBy hashtag which has been adopted as the brand’s pan-India positioning. This film #UnitedByPlay is an extension of the same.”
While the film aims to tug at the heartstrings of the consumers, it has elicited a rather polarized reaction from the ad fraternity.
D. Ramakrishna, or Ramki as he is known in the industry, founder of Cartwheel, a Mumbai-based independent creative consultancy, confesses that the film has made him break out in goosebumps. He gives a thumbs up to the casting, locations and detailing.
However, he is quick to add that the trick to deliberately mislead viewers till the surprise ending is an overused theme. The length of the film further adds to its predictability.
“The film would still probably work in 30 or maybe 40 seconds when you don’t have the time to work it out. The longer duration gives us ample time to realize that all the clues are red herrings. Sure enough, on cue, comes the wonderful truth. And it’s really well done. The music surges and the never-more-relevant social message fades in,” he said, adding that the film is a proof that Benetton owns one of the most powerful advertising ideas ever.
Suresh Eriyat, founder and creative director, Eeksaurus Studios, questions why the film works on the prejudices that people might have.
“I’m always troubled by such ideas,” he said, noting that the film, for most of the duration, highlights the animosity between Hindus and Muslims. The revelation, as the film ends, is also not dramatic or convincing.
Eriyat notes that while one does not need to run away from the problem (communal divide, in this case) but a balance needs to be maintained while creating such work.
“If the idea is to promote unity, then why not start with the match?” he asked, adding that the film dwells on the communal divide way too much.
Sundeep Chugh, chief executive officer of Benetton India Pvt. Ltd, does not agree: “Benetton’s ethos has been to bring forward opposing social norms and emotions, and further uniting them with a clear message on humanity first. Benetton’s campaigns in India paint a similar picture in regards to the brand ideology while highlighting the social causes and knitting the diverse colours of India together,” he said.
Benetton’s film has garnered around five lakh views across brand and Terribly Tiny Tales’ YouTube and Facebook platforms.