“What an Idea, Sirji!” Did Lowe realise where its campaign for Idea Cellular would lead when it was still at the storyboard stage? One can clearly recall the campaign series – the fictitious ‘Purmi-Thumihar’ caste conflict, village children receiving their daily lessons from classrooms of an elite public school, and now a lady minister going to the people to seek their opinion on important issues, where brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan stresses, “Public ki sunoge, toh public aapki sunenge, nahin toh bahut maaregi. Yehi hai democracy” (If you listen to the public, the public will listen to you, or else you will pay dearly. This is democracy).
Now, taking this idea forward is none other than AICC general secretary and Member of Parliament, Rahul Gandhi. According to media reports, the young Parliamentarian has joined hands with a Bangalore-based techie friend to reach out to the people. People will soon be able to call or SMS Gandhi directly with their problems and various issues of public concern. In much the same manner as the Idea campaign, wherein people call or SMS the minister with their views on the construction of a mall on farm land and abolishing polythene carry bags.
Of course, Gandhi won’t be attending to the calls himself (sorry girls!). The calls would be received at call centres that would be set up by the Congress party and the Youth Congress. However, if media reports are to be believed, Gandhi would monitor the calls and make the process as transparent as ever.
With the Lok Sabha elections scheduled in 2009, more political parties could be expected to adopt a similar exercise.
This is truly a unique example where an ad campaign has assumed a larger-than-life social significance. One may recall Tata Tea’s ‘Jaago re’ campaign for voter registration, which took forward the social cause of making people aware about their Constitutional duty of casting their votes. However, the ‘Jaago re’ campaign has been designed to encourage people to register for voting and cast their votes. The Idea campaign is a brand campaign.
Gandhi’s ‘people connect’ programme has increased expectations from the Idea Cellular campaign. It would be interesting to see what Lowe comes up with next for Idea and what higher plank it can take beyond democracy.