No one has the sole proprietary on words and ideas, but with an ad budget of Rs 500 crore, one would expect something spectacular. Dentsu India recently released the campaign ‘Main Nahi, Hum’ (Not I, We) with Rahul Gandhi at the centrestage in major national dailies. And with this has started a war of words between the so called ‘Shahzada’ and the ‘Chaiwala’. The BJP has accused the Congress of lifting the same tagline used by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in 2011 for a ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Gujarat to connect with the common man.
The Congress’ main slogan ‘Har haath shakti, har haath tarakki’, reflects the idea of self-help with power in every hand and progress for everyone. A set of TV, print and outdoor ads have also been released with the youth highlighting their icon, Rahul Gandhi.
The Twitter tale
A wild fire was created on Twitter with comments flowing in from various leaders across the country.
Jehangir Pocha, Editor-in-Chief, NewsX tweeted, “The ultimate-Cong-BJP bhai-bhai; even using the same campaign lines. So Congress spending Rs 500 crore on a ‘used’ ad.”
Meenakashi Lekhi, BJP National Spokesperson, tweeted, “#MainNahinHum bankruptcy of ideas creativity, seems Modi phobia has been converted in2 admiration, byline stating Modiji in2011 will b a tribute!”
KV Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett India and Sub-Continent, tweeted, “There is a lot of debate on who originally used #MainNahinHum perhaps we must ask which party has better creds’ to use #BJP #Congress #AAP.”
While Sonal Dabral, Chairman & CCO, DDB Mudra Group, tweeted, “Mein Nahin? Hmmm!!!”
Strongly opposing BJP’s allegations of lifting Narendra Modi’s slogan “Main Nahi, Hum”, Ajay Maken of the Congress tweeted that the party had used the tagline in a 2010 Indore mushaira featuring Congress workers. Sources have revealed that the party has decided to go ahead with the campaign to promote Rahul Gandhi.
Who is to be blamed?
Critics argued that ironically, the campaign that stresses on the importance of ‘Hum’ rather than ‘Main’ comes from a party that is centered on a singular face. The tagline “Har haath shakti, har haath tarakki” is strategically flawed as the Congress party has been hit by policy paralysis and has a tarnished image in the society. The idea of inclusive growth is a bit too optimistic for the party. Hence, it is very difficult for the agency to craft an idea that will be revolutionary. And here comes the big question. Who is responsible for this? Is it entirely the ad agency’s fault to come up with a slogan without even changing a comma? Or is it the client’s fault in not giving a clear brief? Both the parties are equally responsible for the fiasco.
It is the agency’s job to research on the communication of the competition in detail. The slogan is not even Modi’s decade-old campaign, but it is as recent as 2011. The agency has been hired to create an original idea that regains the lost fortunes of the party. Experts also believe that the slogan is very average and it would have been created by anyone so why spend those Rs 500 crore?
There was a discussion on social media that it is highly likely that the idea was forced by the Congress onto Dentsu. In that case, it is entirely the party’s fault because they should have created a better brief on inclusive growth. It is also a big question on the party’s political memory.
Too little too late
To boost the image of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the party hired Dentsu India and Burson-Marsteller. He has become active on social networking sites a few months before the elections when his counterpart Narendra Modi already has a huge fan-following on social networking sites. Modi’s brand positioning is very clear and focused, while Rahul Gandhi’s positioning is still diluted. Modi has highlighted the development strategy and the Aam Aadmi Party rides on transparency, so Rahul Gandhi has nothing substantial to offer even on the social-networking platforms, where he can engage with the common man. Till when can they ride on the done-to-death idea of empowering the common man?