The casting is spot on
The casting is spot on

Spot Light | Kaun Banega Crorepati

The new KBC ad aims to inspire rather than just inform

Home truths

Reviewer: Raghu Bhat and Manish bhatt

Founder directors of Scarecrow Communications, Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt have handled brands such as Quikr, Fiama Di Wills, Zee and Emami.


The ad for Season 8 of the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) by Leo Burnett India addresses the issue of racial discrimination. It starts with actor and KBC host Amitabh Bachchan asking the contestant, a young girl from the North-East, the first question, “The city of Kohima is a part of which country? A. China, B. Nepal, C. India, D. Bhutan." The girl chooses to use the audience poll, a lifeline in the show. The entire audience picks India as the answer. “It’s India, everyone knows this answer," says Bachchan, to which she replies: “Everyone knows it, but how many people actually believe it?"

What did you think of the ad?

One of the main objectives before a TV programme campaign is to create awareness, generate discussions that polarize opinions and lead to buzz. A controversial theme accomplishes that. The casting of the girl is spot on. Even the way she speaks stands out.

How does this ‘KBC’ campaign stack up against its previous ones?

Over the past few years, there has been an attempt to project KBC as something beyond a quiz show. The brand has tried to transcend the obvious aspects of the show like “rags to riches", to more profound life messages. Owing to its success, the brand felt that future campaigns could make a progression from informing to inspiring. But there is a difference. This response to this year’s campaign should be judged among two kinds of audiences. One audience is the TRP-supplying pan-India public who can be viewed as the “perpetrators" of discrimination against people from the North-East. This ad possibly makes them introspect. The other audience is people from the North-East. Does this ad reinforce the stereotype of the “victim"? So it may generate more eyeballs, but also differing viewpoints.

What must advertisers keep in mind while addressing controversial issues in their campaigns?

A TV programme has to brave incredible odds to survive. It’s competing with not just other TV channels but also family engagements, Facebook, and that unfinished office presentation or household chore. It has to be part of a larger social tapestry of current conversations. The active courting of controversy is an aid that makes the TV programme more interesting. The biggest fear of a TV show is to be labelled as boring. But the priority for most advertisers is to convey the product proposition, without upsetting the carefully constructed edifice of the brand architecture. But the high cost of acquiring a new customer doesn’t justify the risk of alienating another.