H&R Johnson, the leading tile brand in India has recently launched an initiative called the ‘Red Ramp Project’ to help the physically-challenged get more access to places hitherto unreachable. The brand kick-started the project using their tiles on Kiri beach in Goa, which gave the differently-abled people a chance to access the sea on their wheel. The campaign is conceptualised by Soho Square and the agency’s ECD & Creative Head, Anuraag Khandelwal, himself features in a video which has been released to spread awareness on the project.
Inspite of having a brand ambassador like Katrina Kaif, the brand decided to go without her in their new campaign. It is the story of three disabled people who talk about their limitations and the video captures their joy on being able to reach the beach. It leaves the audience with a thought: ‘If only one ramp on one beach for one day can make a difference… Imagine what an access-friendly India could feel like’.
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Has the brand got it right?
Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner, CSO, Bang in the Middle, felt that it is clever and a moving one. “The brand seems to have a purpose in mind and wants to do something. It raises an issue, and proposes a solution. Both are very nice. They should do it on more beaches and in more cities. They should not stop at one. It shouldn’t be restricted to one day. This is powerful enough to change the fortune of the brand. In fact, no celebrity can do what this cause can do alone for them.”
Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult stated that tiles are considered a boring product and they can be made interesting. According to him, it is a great way to showcase a CSR activity, by fitting a product into it. “The content is such that it doesn’t run down a sensitive cause like disability and infact; it is used to solve the problem. It is a great way to spread awareness on an important issue like ‘building a ramp’ for the differently-abled. On whether it can go viral, I feel work done tastefully will always be shared,” he said.
On the other hand, Vinish Kathuria, Chief Operating Officer, Digital Quotient pointed out both the plus and the minus side of the new campaign. “The thought which came to my head, after watching the video is that, besides applauding the effort of the brand, how else can I contribute? I feel it leaves the user hanging as to what the next action will be. The video takes me to a website, which is an individual action, so in spite of having a nice concept, I feel the engagement and the call-to-action is slightly weak. However, brands going totally outside their product are worth applauding,” he cited.
Echoing similar views, Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Social Wavelength said, “It is a nice campaign for building awareness, but my concern is that the initiative was just for a day. So after all the built up, my question is as a brand how committed are you to the cause?”
Speaking about the project and ideation behind it, Khandelwal from Soho Square elaborated, “I was mulling over the issue for around two and a half years now, because not only the physically challenged people but the senior citizens also face the problem of accessing places like temples, beaches, cinema halls, railway stations and cafes. It was really sweet of the client to get involved in this project and make ramp on the beach for one day. However, our attempt and endeavour will be to make permanent ramps, but it requires lots of approvals, petitions from the government. So my request is to share the message and hope that this initiative sparks debates, conversations, and some change.”
Commenting on his decision to feature in the video, he shared, “I know the subject well and as a result I could come up with a certain level of honesty in it. This has really happened after a lot of personal experience; I have been on crutches since childhood because of polio. I debated and discussed with my family members on whether I should feature in the video. There was a whole lot of trauma of decision-making which I went through and it was not an easy one. I didn’t want others to think, that differently-abled people are weak and helpless, all I wanted to say is that they need your help to help themselves.”