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The story is back

Reviewer: Prathap Suthan

With over 25 years of experience in the industry, Suthan, chief creative officer and managing partner, Bang In The Middle, is known for his work on campaigns such as India Shining, Incredible India, and Samsung Mobiles’ Next is What campaign.

Campaign

The new ad for Google by Ogilvy & Mather India, titled Reunion, showcases the story of two friends separated by the partition of India and Pakistan. The ad shows the granddaughter in India deciding to surprise her grandfather on his birthday by reuniting him with his childhood friend (who is now in Pakistan) after more than six decades of separation, with a little help from Google.

What did you think of the ad?

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Prathap Suthan

What must brands keep in mind while making references to monumental events such as the Partition?

There are two sides to this film. There is the smaller human story that works with emotion, angst, pain, Partition and friendship. Then there’s the bigger nationalist, patriotic, and political story, where jingoism, pride, posturing, terrorism, and all else bloody come into play. In films like these, the two sides run parallel. But at some point, for most people, one rises above and swamps the other. For me, the smaller story won. It nudged me into a heart space where I left logic and politics behind, and sublimated into a misty-eyed human being. It didn’t, however, shove me into the pointlessness of Pakistan, the angrez urge of MNCs to open past wounds, or the irrelevance of Partition to the new gen. Google, Ogilvy and Chrome have done a fabulous job.

Big brands tend to be conservative in their campaigns. Is it time for the big boys to change?

The big boys get this beautifully. And the transition from product selling to storytelling is happening. With two-way conversations and smaller screens dominating time, lovely long films that gush with universal truths and emotions are back. They are driven by interesting people who push agencies for interesting work. The film medium is back, great ideas are back, and all of them are not necessarily on television where 30 seconds is costlier than precious metal. The smaller chaps have always been aggressive, and may that trend continue. But for a local IT player to do a Google, and at the scale Google can, is a fable yet to be written.

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