Monday, March 31, 2014

Rotary Polio Ad: Hits the right chords!

Reviewing this ad feels like a double whammy - a double reason to celebrate. A good cause, a great ad - could it get any better?

Rotary International used the medium of advertising spots to declare that India is now polio-free - and proudly so. A boy shackled with ropes against a background of fine lines, is struggling to break out of his tied feet; just when he spots a playful football nudging him. He decides to not give up, wrestles with the ropes, frees his feet, finally jumps on to the next set of fine lines, and kicks the football victoriously. Needless to say, the ropes here denoting polio, the fine lines are the 'fate lines' of human hands and the final kick is the victorious glee - a celebration of breaking free.

The 1:30 second Rotary Ad for Polio-free India

Why the hands? Because eradicating polio has proven that polio is no fate to be lived, Senthil Kumar, JWT's National Creative Director believes. "Logic says you can't change fate as it is sealed in the fate lines on your palm even before you are born. But the magic of two hands coming together can change fate and make miracles happen. This was how we came up with the idea of bringing these fate lines to life; just like the new lease of lifelines on a newborn."

While we normally don't yap about the client/brand of an ad, in this case we can't help but swell with pride. Polio is a huge handicap for any child in their most special and growing years and Rotary International has shown tremendous determination in making anti-polio drops a household vaccine that every mother knows of. Retrospectively, in January 2011, the last case of polio was discovered in West Bengal. Three years later, we haven't discovered a single case, which will now compel World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) to officially remove India from its list of polio-endemic countries (leaving just Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria in that category).

JWT Kolkata does complete justice in transforming this deep sentiment onto screen in those 60 seconds. The use of animation (wonderfully put together by Team Eeksaurus) keeps the ad simple and lets the idea stand out - the hands signifying the mutual group effort that has led to this international success unitedly, and using simple elements to highlight the plight of the polio-struck kids help in instant connect without getting too layered, confusing or preachy.

The brilliance of this simplicity gets its soul from the background score that is the sail for any wordless advertisement. And that is somehow the most exciting part, when we got to know of HOW the music for this one came to birth. Senior Creative Director Arjun Mukherjee reminisces, "The idea for the music came after several rounds of brainstorming between Rajat Dholakia (National award winning Music director), Suresh Eriyat, Senthil and myself. As the metaphor for polio was demonstrated through the usage of creepers or vines, the idea was to use various single stringed instruments to bring alive the drama. So when Rajat played the Ektara / Gopichand, it was master percussionist Taufiq Qureshi who brought the ethos alive by playing the Berimbau - a single stringed, bow-shaped brazilian instrument that evolved several centuries ago. But it was an idea from Senthil, which really gave the film its lump-in-the-throat moment musically. Instead of using trained singers for the background vocals, the children of Pratham Music School were approached to lend their voices. These kids stay in the slum area of Mumbai's Govandi. Some of them were rescued from child labour while some work in the surrounding garbage dump. As they stepped inside a recording studio for the first time and sang their hearts out, the boy caught in the creepers suddenly found the strength to break out."


Arjun puts the story of this music piece so beautifully that we refrain from editing it one bit. Hence, we quote. Cherry on the cake here? Rotary's brand ambassador's Amitabh Bachchan's rich baritone concluding the victory at the end, "When we join hands, miracle happen."

Well sometimes, there are brilliant ideas and some times, those ideas manage to wonderfully translate on screen and retain their paper-perfection even after execution. This ad is one of them.

Additional Credits :
Raji Ramaswamy - Senior Vice President, JWT Kolkata
Deepa Sridhar - Director, Corporate Communications - JWT South Asia

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At April 3, 2014 at 2:03 AM , Blogger Subhash Saraf said...

This is a great video to watch, feeling proud, all that has gone in polio eradication over three decades, the efforts of two drops in the mouth of every child, has paid off ultimately. Subhash Saraf

At April 9, 2014 at 1:08 AM , Blogger Satishkumar Chandhok said...

Great achievement of Rotary. Rtn. Should be proud to be associated with it in one way or another
Advertising is fantastic and every one notices it.

At April 9, 2014 at 1:11 AM , Blogger Satishkumar Chandhok said...

Fantastic video
Can't miss ones eye

At April 9, 2014 at 7:19 AM , Blogger Pankaj Agrawal said...

finally we done it and proved to be human being having strong desire done anything impossible make i m possible rtn pankaj agrawal 3030

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