Mumbai: The Incredible India advertising campaign was taken off from international television networks immediately after the terror attacks on Mumbai on 26 November, an official said.
The ads were restored on 30 November on global entertainment networks after the attacks were dealt with by security forces, a tourism ministry official told Mint on condition of anonymity, adding that they continue being off the air on major news channels.
An advertising agency executive with knowledge of the campaign confirmed the development. The executive didn’t want to be named, given the sensitivity of the issue.
The ministry official said TV spots were withdrawn but print ads continued to run.
Advertising executives involved with the government’s tourism advertising campaigns said there could be a new campaign to repair the beating India’s image has taken due to the terror acts.
However, Leena Nandan, joint secretary at the tourism ministry, denied that ads were pulled back in global markets and said schedules remained. She also denied the ministry was mulling a so-called repair campaign.
While an advertising campaign to repair the image of India as a tourist destination would be a natural sequel to the Mumbai atrocities, it would be wise to defer it for the time being as the wounds are still raw, ad professionals said.
Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director, Publicis Ambience Pvt. Ltd, said it was clear that international tourists would not be keen on visiting India till normalcy returned, so any repair campaign would have to be timed accordingly.
Anil Nair, president of ad agency Law and Kenneth India, said it was best for the ministry to wait a few months. “What the ministry can do is to project areas which are culturally rich and historically peaceful. They could promote peaceful areas in central India, the southern states such as Kerala, and the Himalayas, he said. “It’s better to steer clear of five-star hotels or urban areas.”
In his view, strong public relations activity rather than advertising could be more beneficial for the ministry at this point. News reports that assure tourists on safety aspects will do a great deal more to bolster international tourist confidence, Nair said.
Ravi Deshpande, chairman, Contract Advertising (India) Pvt. Ltd, said the big challenge for the ministry (in any repair campaign) will be to show that India is a secure country without showing too many guards or soldiers.