90% of acid attack victims are women. In India, almost 1000 cases of acid attacks are reported every year. Even though the Supreme Court of India has banned over-the-counter sale of acid since 2013, acid is easily available - anyone can go and purchase toilet cleaning acids without any questions asked.
Ogilvy Mumbai, along with Make Love Not Scars, launched a campaign called Beauty Tips with Reshma an acid attack survivor in August last year.
The question was how to effectively spread an awareness for cause, and at the same time not show Reshma in poor light.
The answer was not an obvious depiction of an acid attack instead it was ‘Do it yourself Beauty Videos’. Beauty Videos and Acid Attack, a perfect contradiction.
What unfolded was a campaign which comprised of a series of three videos where Reshma shares beauty tips, with a plea at the end to crowd source signatures on a petition addressed to the Prime Minister for enforcing the ban on open sale of acid.
Reshma’s plea instantly triggered a global conversation. The campaign received acknowledgement and appreciation from the likes of BBC, Discovery, Reuters, The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail, Mashable, The Independent, Huffington Post, Public Radio International and many more. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar; influencers like Jacqueline Novogratz and many more spoke for the cause on social media. Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan's NGO Meer Foundation funded the outdoor campaign. PR worth USD 17 million was generated at zero cost. The NGO was encouraged to turn the campaign into a fundraiser.
The powerful campaign has won recognition in India and globally including the coveted Glass Lion and a Gold Lion at Cannes 2016, which concluded last week.
The biggest vindication for Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, ECDs at Ogilvy and the duo behind the campaign is that, the campaign has helped gather funds to start a rehab centre (even though they never asked for funds) and the enforcement of the ban has already been ordered in UP. Rest of India will follow soon hopes the duo.
In a brief chat Karmarkar and Rajadhyaksha talk about the starting point of the campaign, challenges given the sensitivity of the subject and more …………
What was the starting point of this film - can you take us through this journey?
Harshad: The starting point of the journey would have to be the team's passion for the cause. Harshik and Geetanjali were keen to explore this and Kainaz and I thought it is a cause that needs talking about.
After that was the process of going through idea after idea. We didn't want to settle for anything that wouldn't make a real impact. Once we had the idea, we got together likeminded people and set off on the course.
What were the main challenges given the sensitivity of the subject?
Kainaz - The biggest challenge was making sure that the idea will be executed in a way that will lead to a real change. We had no money. But on the other hand, we had a brilliant and brave client and we had Reshma, the face of grace and courage.
Though it wasn't easy, we knew that if we pulled this off we would have a made a difference to the lives and safety of so many people. That kept us going and never let us slow down.
How many awards has the film garnered?
Harshad: Tough to give you an exact number but here is what we remember - 1 Cannes Glass Lion and 1 Cannes Gold, 1 One Show Gold, 2 D&AD pencils, 9 AMES, 10 Kyoorious and 4 Effies and it's not over yet.
What has been the impact of the film in terms of usage of acid?
Kainaz - We started off to gather 25000 signatures and we have over 300000 signatures. The campaign has helped gather funds to start a rehab centre (even though we never asked for funds) and the enforcement of the ban has already been ordered in UP. Rest of India will follow soon.
When you started out did you expect it to take on this scale and impact?
Harshad - We knew the cause and the idea were special but the way it has fired up, was beyond anything we imagined and we are so thankful for it.
What has been the biggest victory so far?
Kainaz - The beginning of the enforcement of the ban has started. Nothing else could be a bigger reward.