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Spot Light | National Population Register

The ad doesn't explain the proposition at all

Cinematic cliches

Reviewer: Swapan Seth

Swapan Seth
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Swapan Seth

The national creative director, chairman and chief executive officer of advertising agency Equus Red Cell, Swapan Seth, has 20 years’ experience in advertising and has worked with brands like Taj hotels, Deutsche Bank and Tata Steel, among others. Seth has also worked with a unit of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint.


The National Population Register (NPR) campaign, titled Mitti, by DDB Remedy shows a montage of scenes from different parts of India. It opens with a man picking up “mud", pasting it on his face and throwing it up in the air. It reaches another person in another part of India, and so on. The campaign, through these sequences, covers multiple locations. The background track, Mitti, talks about associating yourself with the country as a citizen.

Your first thoughts on the campaign?

It’s beautifully shot yet sadly bereft of insight and, therefore, an idea. The campaign is simmering in a cauldron of cinematic clichés. There is just so much more that could be done. Even the jingle is not as evocative as it could have been. The music too is a tad disappointing. A fine opportunity frittered away. But then, I suppose, it is tough doing anything “non-nationalistic" for the government.

Does the ad stand out amid a host of political and government campaigns on air right now?

Not at all; these “Jana gana mana" commercials are so early 1990-ish. Personally, while I have nothing against jingles, as I am getting older, I believe if you have nothing to say, you sing. Of course, there are notable exceptions such as “Har ek Friend". But then that too was erected on a well thought out insight.

What would you have done differently?

I would have created drama. The NPR project does several things, including house listing by enumerator, scanning of NPR schedules, data digitization, biometric enrolment and consolidation, correction and validation, de-duplication by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), issuance of Aadhar number and consolidation of cleansed data. If you don’t enrol, you run the risk of not being recognized. You don’t exist. That is a dramatic proposition. I also believe that it requires a narrative. An explanation of the proposition.

On the creative side, does the campaign succeed in bringing out the larger message of population registration?

Not at all. I couldn’t fathom what they do. I couldn’t fathom what, as a viewer, I must do. So there was no consumer calling, so to say.

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