Get your own Little Black Book.

Build your own personal news stream. Discover the latest work created that interests you, share your favourite stories and follow your favourite people and companies

Already have an account?

Opinion and Insight

Ad Folk Reflect on India’s Independence Day

McCann's Puneet Kapoor and TBWA's Subramanian Krishnan on how brands approached the anniversary

Ad Folk Reflect on India’s Independence Day

This week marks the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence from the UK – and we’ve seen brands getting involved to celebrate the country’s history and future.



The tone and focus has been varied. Bajaj motorcycles last year focused on paying tribute to the country’s veterans – this year the brand’s ‘Avenger’ model celebrated the concept of female independence (a timely social issue in the country). McDonald’s, through DDB, has looked at the differences and diversity that makes the country strong.


We caught up with Puneet Kapoor at McCann Worldgroup Bangalore and Subramanian Krishnan, Chief Strategy Officer at TBWA\India to get their perspectives.

Puneet Kapoor, Executive Creative Director, McCann Worldgroup Bangalore 


LBB> Why is the 70th Independence Day anniversary so important for brands? 

As children, all Indians are brought up learning about the struggle to free the country from colonial rule.
 
Indians by and large feel gratitude for this, and there’s a strong feeling of patriotism in the generations gone by, although this is not so strongly felt amongst the youth.
 
The overwhelming trend for the celebrations is showing gratitude and respect towards the armed forces, exemplified in this campaign that I spotted this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz_N9oJ6HO
 
This campaign for Bajaj Vikrant motorcycles has also stood out in recent years:
LBB> And have you seen in trends or wider messages in brand activity around the celebration this year?

I’m not sure I noticed anything different from the usual Independence Day celebrations as far as brand activity.
 
As Independence Day is primarily a patriotic celebration, I feel that people are actually more engaged with brand activity around festivals like Diwali, Rakhi and Eid, as those are seen as truly heartfelt occasions, where bonds with family and loved ones are celebrated.
 
LBB> It's the anniversary of India's independence and also the anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan - does that present any challenges when it comes to what tone to take?

For me, this is fairly simple to answer. Since the occasion marks the ousting of British Raj and the sacrifices made by freedom fighters…that theme dominates the celebrations, hence showing gratitude and respect to the armed forces. That’s the focus and tone. Not much brand conversation happens on partition.

Subramanian Krishnan, Chief Strategy Officer at TBWA\India 


LBB> Why is the 70th Independence Day anniversary so important for brands?
 
In many ways, the 70th Independence Day is just the same as previous ones. However, in spirit, it does feel special.
 
This is because there has been a surge of expectation and optimism among ordinary Indians. They feel that, finally, we are about to overcome decades of socio-economic maladies. This has been largely driven by two factors.
 
Firstly, with a genuine political focus on fighting corruption and inclusive prosperity, everyday Indians feel that they are progressing towards a brighter future.
 
Secondly, a combination of a smartphone and media revolution has fired up energies of a youthful nation. The mobile phone revolution has democratised access while the media revolution has fuelled aspirations, both of which were historically restricted to the traditional elites. This has ensured that the new consuming class is moving out of a constraint driven worldview into one powered by possibilities.
 
In this canvas, the 70th year of independence is a watershed moment in mind-set of India. Brands are cognisant of this socioeconomic change sweeping the country and are keen to ride on this zeitgeist. But their actual ability to ride this wave has been, at best, mixed.
 
LBB> Have you seen in trends or wider messages in brand activity around the celebration this year?
 
A few Indian home grown brands like ‘Hero Motors’ and ‘Paytm’ chose to connect with the patriotic side of their consumers.
 
But, many brands used it as any other tactical opportunity to do more business, Some brands in banking and finance were celebrating the event like every other year. And then, retail brands and ecommerce sites remained on ‘fire sale’ and ‘bargain prices’ under the ‘Independence Day’ excuse.
 
In short, while the spirit was there among everyday Indians, brands seem to not have leveraged that opportunity uniquely or disruptively.
 
It's the anniversary of India's independence and the anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan - does that present any challenges when it comes to what tone to take?
 
The emerging narrative is that Indians, especially millennials, are growing out of the partition blues. This youth generation has not lived with the trauma of partition.
 
In many ways, they are more selfishly future-facing. Hence, they embrace the Independence Day as a day to make future resolve. No wonder then, that India’s Prime Minister refered to the Independence Day as ‘Sankalp Diwas’ (Resolution Day).
 
LBB> What else should we note about India's Independence Day?
 
Seventy years young, India has its tasks cut out.
 
As a country, we need to continue to grow at a world beating pace. Equally, we need to strive to reduce our internal imbalances and inequalities in our socio-economic transformation. All this, while we gain our rightful place in the league of nations, both within Asia and the larger world.
 
Brands, specially the Indian home-grown ones, have an opportunity to create their own unique narrative on this national optimism and energy, rather than mimic tired marketing formulas.
 
We hope that many of them realize this moment of disruption. Onwards to 75.

Category: Automotive , Bikes