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Reviewer: Vipin Dhyani

Efficacy needed: Dhyani.

Campaign:The public service campaign from Aircel urges people to donate their old phones to old age homes, so that the elderly can talk to their loved ones. The first campaign shows a man playing carrom with himself, the second highlights the deafening silence between a couple at the dinner table.

What did you think of the ad?

Let’s talk about the “carrom" TVC (television commercial) first. If we go by the definition of social advertising, the idea is brilliant at all the parameters. It is simple, engaging and communicative. The crafting and direction job looked very rushed to me. The art direction could have been more realistic. The silent couple ad is too basic. While the first idea is simple yet creative, the second one is just simple. It lacks the impact if seen in isolation. Overall, the intention is noble. The idea of donating an old handset for a cause, such as this, is very refreshing and respectable.

What are the biggest challenges of public service advertising?

A brilliant idea: The Aircel carrom ad is simple and engaging.

Primarily, there are two. The biggest challenge is that this category is full of scam ads. And the other one is the low budget involved for the exercise. Since it’s a non-commercial thing, budgets are low and thus it affects the production quality of the ads. Most of the public service ads don’t have soul in it. They fail to make a connect between the existing problem and the solution. For example, it’s difficult to tell the masses at one go, with the help of a print or a TVC, that in order to keep the environment clean they should not litter. But we lack in civic sense. We ogle, we spit, we still think a son is better than a daughter. We don’t switch off mobiles during a flight take-off, talk loudly in theatres, jump the queue, and just to oppose a point or policy…we burn buses. To evoke, educate and inform our masses about the issues is a tough task. It requires sincerity in the approach and infrastructure to support it.

What is you favourite public service campaign?

Efficacy of the message is a much-needed thing in public service campaigns. The “Balbir Pasha" AIDS awareness campaign by Lowe was really an impactful one. It had a strong strategic and creative force in it, calculatively divided in stages to keep the audience engaged for a longer period of time. It started with a concept line, “Balbir Pasha ko AIDS hoga kya?", where the whole town discusses the possibility of a truck driver getting infected by AIDS. In stage 2, they talked about the different ways of getting infected by the deadly virus, and the whole nation listened to it carefully since it was done strategically, sincerely and beautifully.

As told to Gouri Shah

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