Meet Square Brand: the agency behind the GST ads
New Delhi: Behind the advertising blitz for India’s biggest tax reform since Independence is a rather low-profile Delhi agency, with annual turnover of just Rs70 crore.
Led by its founder-president Navneet Kapoor, Square Brand Communication Group is located in South Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave. Its campaign across print, digital, television and outdoor media employs celebrities such as top Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and badminton player P.V. Sindhu to take goods and services tax (GST) to the public.
From the government side, the campaign is managed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). The media mandate is handled by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), the nodal agency of the government for advertising on behalf of various ministries.
Following a multi-agency pitch, Square, which had already worked with CBEC for its various programmes, won the mandate to create an integrated campaign . The three television spots (Oneness , game changer and chain ) were rolled out in January. The campaign’s script and story boarding has been done by agency’s creative director, Pallavi Roy.
“We decided to feature ace badminton player P.V. Sindhu in the first campaign series because she is truly a game changer,” says Kapoor, who has over two decades of experience in advertising and event management. “In my opinion, GST Bill is also a game changer and the campaign highlighted how a single tax reform will help the nation by removing state boundaries and enhance trade,” he said.
The television spot was followed by aggressive print, radio and outdoor advertising. Days before the formal rollout of GST, CBEC launched another television spot featuring actor Bachchan spinning the creative on patriotism. Out of the five ads series, the first four spots have been released including teen rang , transparency , simplicity and indirect tax .
“For the second ad series, we took the patriotic route featuring Amitabh Bachchan where he highlights the power of symbolism equating the national flag’s tri-colour with GST as both bind the people of the country. The first three ads talk about how GST facilitates the ease of doing business, brings transparency and simplicity in people’s lives,” added Kapoor.
The ads have been directed by Atul Manjrekar who is also making his Bollywood debut with a musical comedy produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra featuring Anil Kapoor. The GST advertisements have been produced by Delhi-based production house, Razzmatazz Films Pvt Ltd.
According to data from TV ratings and viewership monitoring agency, Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, there were 62,715 insertions of GST ads between 1 January and 30 June. The maximum number of ads were aired on news channels followed by business news, music, general entertainment channels, devotional and infotainment channels.
“I found the print ads of GST way more informative in which product categories with the change in pricing were clearly listed,” said K.V. Sridhar, founder of creative communication agency, Hyper Collective. “As far as television ads are concerned, I think the agency has made a good choice of featuring Amitabh Bachchan not only because of his stature and popularity but also because he has been an entrepreneur himself. The information on single tax coming from him seems more authentic. However, I feel that the message could have been simpler and clearer,” he said.
Currently, Square Communications is working on the last campaign which will feature Bachchan. The agency is also working on tactical digital videos which will be promoted on digital platforms like Facebook and YouTube featuring common people who will talk about the challenges faced under the new tax regime and how one can find solutions.
“Now that the launch is over, people will need clarity on issues like filing returns. Our focus will be to provide simplified solutions to them,” said Saurabh Kumar, account director, Square Communications.
The agency has over 70 employees across offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Dehradun, Guwahati, Patna, Jaipur and Lucknow. It offers services such as above the line (ATL), events and activations, celebrity management, digital and social media, rural marketing and research. It claims to have a client base of over 70 brands with a heavy skew towards government and public service undertakings (PSUs).
Square has been empanelled with state tourism boards in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal and Bihar, among others. The agency has won the ministry of textiles’ ambitious initiative India Handloom Brand account. Its PSU clients include Engineers India Ltd (EIL), India Post, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Gas India Ltd (GAIL). Among private players, it has serviced brands such as auto major Mercedes Benz (Silver arrows), smartphone brand Panasonic, gold loan provider Muthoot Finance, builders and developers Panchsheel Group, global luxury cruise firm Star Cruises among others.