All posts by Nikesh Belani

Tata Steel releases digital film ‘The Washout’

Due to COVID-19, people across the globe have started washing their hands more often. The World Health Organization (WHO) advisory calls for washing hands for at least 20 seconds. But, this seems to have given rise to a water crisis.

Recently, Wunderman Thompson South Asia conceptualised a digital film titled ‘The Washout’ for Tata Steel. The film, produced by Little Lamb Films, is based on a social experiment, wherein, people were asked to send in videos of their handwashing routine.

“Just before COVID-19 hit, the major focus was on the water shortage problem around the world, and how it’s going to impact the future. With the fear of COVID-19 suddenly taking centre stage, and the message of handwashing bombarding the media, the water woes took a backseat for the time being. No one talked about closing the tap while washing your hands. In most videos being circulated, the water being wasted became a blind spot for everyone. We at Wunderman Thompson wanted to highlight the issue in a way where we wanted to grab the attention of the viewer through yet another handwashing video, and bring in the water wasting habit as a surprise at the very end,” says Arjun Mukherjee, VP and executive creative director, Wunderman Thompson, Kolkata.

“The challenge for the production house was how to pull this through, considering the scenario. Also, the shots had to be presented in a believable way. So, we zeroed in on people who’re into filmmaking. DOPs, directors, assistant directors and so on, who had a good idea of how to shoot and make the frame look good. Then we chose only those wash basins which were conducive for us and asked the family members to show us how they washed their hands with soap properly. Each and every shot and angle was remotely directed, and going with the ethos of the film, we made sure that not a single drop of water was wasted,” added Mukherjee.

With so many ‘home-made ads’ around, what were the challenges involved in creating the film from home? Says Mukherjee, “The first challenge is when there’s a limitation to shoot, then the idea and content has to be that much stronger for the film to work, irrespective of the quality of the shots. Second, because everything is being managed remotely, the pre-production work had to be that much stronger to avoid any hiccups. Patience is very important in the current scenario because not everything can go according to plan, and the flexibility should be there to course-correct accordingly.”

Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently faced backlash for a similar reason during his #SafeHands challenge video on Twitter. The public health initiative was a step-by-step guide meant to demonstrate the best handwashing practices. Although, throughout the video, the water from the tap kept running, leading to widespread disappointment.

Govt extends deadline for submission of newspaper issues under advertisement policy

The government has extended the deadline for the monthly submission of issues of newspapers empanelled with Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, which they are required to do under the advertisement policy, in view of the prevailing lockdown. Under clause 13 of the Print Media Advertisement Policy of the government, all newspapers empanelled with DAVP shall submit the monthly copies to the body on or before 15th of the subsequent month failing which advertisements shall be stopped to that newspaper.

The government has decided to extend the relaxation in the submission of monthly issues for the month of April 2020 which is scheduled in the month of May 2020 (1st to 15th May 2020) in view of the countrywide lockdown due to COVID-19, a government advisory said.

No publication will be blocked under regularity during the period of lockdown, it said.

A fresh advisory will be issued in this regard post-lockdown

Star Plus retelecast Ramayan after record breaking viewership on Doordarshan

More than three decades after it was last seen on our television screens, ‘Ramayan’ was brought back by public broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) to entertain Indians during lockdown. Over a month ago, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, tweeted, “Happy to announce that on public demand, we will retelecast ‘Ramayan’ from tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, on DD National. One episode in the morning 9-10 a.m., and another in the evening, 9-10 p.m.”

Written, produced and directed by the late Ramanand Sagar, ‘Ramayan’ first aired back in 1987, but its second innings, that started in March 2020, shattered all viewership records in the world. DD National said, on April 16, 2020, that 7.7 crore people across the globe watched the show. On May 2, the pubcaster tweeted, “Thanks to all our viewers! #Ramayan – world record! Highest viewed entertainment program globally.”

Although the show has come to an end now, the buzz around it still remains high. Due to the lockdown, the production of fresh content has come to a halt, and the general entertainment channels have run out of soaps. The lockdown has been extended, and is now in its third phase, which means people are still locked indoors. In such a scenario, the broadcasters are heavily dependent on archival content.

Now, Star India, one of India’s largest pay TV networks, has acquired the license to retelecast ‘Ramayan’. A couple of episodes have already aired on Star Plus, and the show has managed to generate chatter on social media platforms.

The show’s cast includes Arun Govil as Lord Rama, Dipika Chikhlia Topiwala as Goddess Sita and Sunil Lahri as Lakshman, and veteran actors like Lalita Pawar as Manthara, Arvind Trivedi as Ravana and Dara Singh as Hanuman.

The epic mythological tale airs at 7.30 p.m. daily on Star Plus, and now, it remains to be seen if the show continues to garner high viewership.

HDFC Bank releases song of hope ‘Hum Haar Nahin Maanenge’ in collaboration with A.R. Rahman and Prasoon Joshi

HDFC Bank has released #HumHaarNahinMaanenge (we will not give up), a collaborative song of hope. The single is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of India and millions of Indians who are standing together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through this track, HDFC Bank wants to show its solidarity and support to the nation by encouraging more and more people to donate to PM-CARES Fund. Every donation makes a difference and the bank appeals to one and all to contribute. It will also contribute Rs 500/- each time the song is shared via social media as this small action will have a multiplier effect on the amount that is being contributed towards the PM-CARES Fund from HDFC Bank.

The song was conceptualized as a clarion call to spread hope, positivity and motivation. The powerful, emotional track reminds people that we are in this together and we will get through it together. The song brings to fore the many moments of kindness, hope, support, courage and care that are shining through in these challenging circumstances.

It is composed by Oscar and Grammy Award-winning musician A.R. Rahman, and the lyrics are penned by noted lyricist and poet, Prasoon Joshi. The track also brings together an ensemble of musicians from all over India. The featured artists include names such as Clinton Cerejo, Mohit Chauhan, Harshdeep Kaur, Mika Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Sid Sriram, Shruti Haasan, Shashaa Tirupati, Khatija Rahman and Abhay Jodhpurkar. India’s premier percussionist Sivamani, sitarist Asad Khan and bass prodigy Mohini Dey are also part of this esteemed project.

“As a socially responsible corporate citizen we want to do the best that we can for our nation,” said Ravi Santhanam, chief marketing officer, HDFC Bank. “Through this tribute we want to touch the heart of every person in the country and let them know that they are not alone. Together, we will emerge stronger. Right now, every contribution, bolsters the nation’s effort to fight the pandemic. We salute the undying spirit of our countrymen and reiterate our commitment to help and support to defeat COVID-19,” He added.

“This song has brought all of us together for a noble cause and we hope it inspires the nation to come together too,” said composer A.R. Rahman.

“Though this is not the most ideal of circumstances for creativity but as artists we have to break through adversity and catch the finger of hope. My poem is centred around the thought of the un-putdownable spirit of us humans. We have much to learn, but together we will surmount the odds, we won’t give up,” said lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

Together with HDFC Bank, this campaign has been conceptualised and executed by their creative agency partner Kinnect and digital media firm Qyuki.

Coca Cola highlight spirit of ‘Human Race’ through its new ad

It’s easy to lose hope in the middle of a pandemic that is currently threatening the world’s population. Instead, Coca Cola wants to take this opportunity to remind us how resillient the human spirit is. Coca Cola’s new international ad aims to pay tribute to the human race and to the frontline workers tirelessly fighting against the pandemic.

The ad shows contrasting human behaviours while reminding us that there is still goodness in the world in the midst of strife. The video displays scenes of panic buying, social distancing, and situations of self-isolation where a person may have to forcefully stay away from their family members. The ad is heavily reminescent of a 2012 ad that uses similar messaging – by attempting to instil a sense of hope by displaying bleak ads.

This 2012 TVC was created by McCann Erickson, and opens with a bunch of kids humming to the strum of a guitar. As the children sing, a montage is flashed on the screen, along with some text and statistics that support the images. Prasoon Joshi, had penned the lyrics of the jingle that accompanied the ad and Bollywood music composer Shantanu Moitra has composed the music. The film was directed by Kaushik Sarkar, and produced by the production house Apostrophe.

In 2010, Coca Cola internationally took up an initiative called ‘The Happiness Machine’. On the surface, it looked like a normal vending machine.

Looked like a normal vending machine but it dispensed more than one coke when the button was pressed, forcing students to share the beverages and initiate conversations.

Marico foray into new vegetable cleaning segment with launch of ‘Veggie Clean’

Marico , leading consumer companies, has announced its foray into the vegetable and fruit hygiene category with the launch of Veggie Clean, made with a unique mix of 100% safe ingredients. With an aim to aid and strengthen the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Marico is expanding its play in the health and hygiene segment. Addressing an industry gap and with innovation at the core, this newest introduction offers a unique mix of ingredients that remove all the germs, bacteria, chemicals, waxes and soil present on the surface of fruits and vegetables without leaving any residue, aftertaste or smell.

Increasingly, both personal and domestic hygiene is becoming priority top priority for consumers. While hand, body, home and kitchen hygiene is in practice and consumption habits are also evolving in tandem with the current situation, ensuring complete sanitation of our fresh produce is still limited to only rinsing them with water. To bridge this gap with an innovative solution, Marico has launched a first-of-its-kind fruit and vegetable cleaner.

Veggie Clean will be available across modern and ecommerce channels in two SKUs – 200 ml and 400 ml for INR 149 and INR 289 respectively. The solution does not contain any harmful preservative, is soap-free, chlorine-free and alcohol-free. It can be used to clean all kinds of vegetables and fruits except mushrooms. Veggie Clean is made from ingredients that are derived from natural sources. Simple to use, one is only required to soak and hand rub the fresh produce in a solution made of one capful of Veggie Clean and 2 litres of water followed by rinsing the soaked produce in running water 2-3 times for about 30 seconds.

Also Read: Marico and EMAMI forays into Hand Sanitizer segment

Speaking on the launch, Koshy George, Chief marketing officer, Marico said, “We at Marico believe in innovation that makes a real difference and as a responsible organization, we continue to develop disruptive solutions that help address emerging consumer needs. We are witnessing a definite shift in consumer habit and consumption patterns are increasingly being centred on personal and domestic hygiene. Keeping this in mind, we have launched Veggie Clean made with 100% safe ingredients, an industry first innovation which will help consumers sanitize their fruits and vegetables by removing impurities that may be present on the surface. With this launch, we hope to fill an existing gap in the hygiene segment.”

With an increased focus on health and hygiene products, Marico has been innovating and intensifying its presence in the category. The company entered the hand hygiene segment with the launch of Mediker Hand Sanitizer in India and hand sanitizer and hand wash in Bangladesh. It aims to continue exploring newer avenues in the health, hygiene and foods sector in other geographies.

People in their worst dilemma on reopening of economic activity amid outbreak: Ipsos Survey

The multinational market research firm Ipsos globally released the findings of their 14 country COVID-19 survey today. The poll consisted of more than 28,000 people from across 14 countries and was conducted from April 16 to 19 on the Global Advisor online platform. According to the survey, people in these major countries are divided on whether the economy and businesses should be allowed to open if the coronavirus pandemic is still not fully contained.

The majority of respondents from eight out of 14 countries are against the opening of the economy if the virus is not completely under control. This response was largely seen in developed economies like the United Kingdom and Canada (70 per cent), which was further followed by Mexico (65 per cent), Spain and Australia (61 per cent), and the United States (59 per cent).

Also at the same time, a large set of respondents had agreed to the idea that economies should reopen in some hard-hit countries which include Russia (60 per cent), China (58 per cent), Italy (53 per cent), India (51 per cent) and Germany (50 per cent). India was found to be the country where the respondents were most uncertain about whether businesses should open without the virus being under control. The responses from India showed a mere eight percentage points between those who agree and disagree.

As per this latest wave of the Ipsos global COVID-19 survey, Indians are now facing their worst paradox. It is a state where over half of them (51 per cent) are favoring the opening of the economy and businesses, irrespective of whether the coronavirus has been fully contained. The paradoxical element here is that a majority (78 per cent) of urban Indians, which is also the highest percentage globally, are nervous about leaving their homes for work and travel.

This survey also reveals that a majority of people in 12 out of 14 countries say that they are going to be nervous about leaving their homes even if businesses are allowed to reopen and travel resumes. While a majority of people disagreed with this in Germany, respondents from Russia, France, and Australia were found to be more optimistic about leaving home.