Ad agencies are used to working for clients, in stringent deadlines and still dishing out the best of creative ideas. But what happens when they get hired by a political party to make a campaign with the fate of the entire nation riding on it? In 2014, Ogilvy Group’s Soho Square was part of BJP’s famous campaign ‘Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar’, which successfully etched into the hearts of millions of Indians.
The book ‘A Walk to the Capital’ is a first-hand account of what went into the making of that historic campaign, was launched by Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & Creative Director, Ogilvy, South Asia and the entire Soho Square team on April 27, 2015 in Mumbai.
“This has been the best brief I’ve worked on in my entire career and with an absolute dream of a client. Professional to the core, the BJP leadership knew their target audience to the person, and this I believe was the key to cracking this campaign. It has been a memorable journey. And we have attempted to capture our journey in this book,” shared Pandey
An excerpt from an interview with Piyush Pandey:
What is the thought behind the book ‘The Walk to the Capital’?
This book is a compilation of the small contribution of Soho Square to the biggest change in the country that has taken place. The campaign is actually far bigger than the advertising campaign, so we can’t take away the huge credit that team BJP gets for their efforts that they put in. This book is important for me because it contains more blood, sweat and tears than any book of 1,000 pages. This book is for historical purposes, for all the people involved in the campaign, I think they need to have a piece to keep in their lives, because I don’t know when again whey will get to work on another intense campaign of this stature. However, on a lighter note, the biggest gain for me was that I learned to use WhatsApp during this time and that is the only app I have used till now!
The campaign came in 2014 and people already know how successful the campaign was, isn’t the timing of the book launch a bit late?
For a long time, we didn’t even know if there would be any book and it is very late that we realised that we must have a book. We felt that WPP should have a record of the meaning of this mammoth campaign. Also we have done so many deadlines in this campaign, that when it came to the book launch, we said ‘let’s take our time.’
What is the main difference between working for brands Vs for a political party?
We know how to do campaigns for corporations and we have been doing it for years. So when we pitched for this account, it seemed like any other account, but when we actually won it and began the work, gradually the weight of the expectation and the responsibility began to unfold. It was around 1st February last year, that we accepted BJP’s invitation to be a part of this campaign and within 25 days, the first ad came out and we were dreading the exercise because we have not worked with a political party ever, so there were apprehensions that what would it be like to work with a political party who is also the client. The experience turned out to be a very pleasant one and in fact more professional than the so called professional companies in the country. They were very clear in what they wanted. I think the campaign looks so good because there was no Marketing Director or Brand Manager involved.
What were the challenges involved while working for the campaign?
Challenges were more in our heads, we were sceptical of how it will happen, who will decide, but after the experience all I can say is that all these things were unfounded. Since we didn’t know, we were asking ourselves those questions, now we know and we say ‘what a fabulous experience’ out of mutual business respect.
Infact, when we told them we want to shoot X no of commercials, they told us, no you shoot 3X as you never know which one will turn out better, so go ahead and do it. Also when we showed them the ‘Janta Maaf Nahi Karegi’ film, they didn’t know how to react to it, because we told them that we will be shooting the campaign with only a black background and just the talking heads. They had several doubts and questions in mind, but they also understood us.
What is the secret behind the success of the line ‘Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar’?
It is a very simple brief, when a client tells you that we want to lead the campaign, not as a party, but as the party’s leader, what else can you get other than ‘Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar’? The entire campaign was about capturing the sentiments of the people in their language. Lines like ‘Janta Maaf Nahi Karegi’ comes from the simple insight when we as a children were told that ‘Bhagwan Maaf Nahi Karega’ or the ‘Ache Din Aane Wale Hain’ when we told our friends who were down and out that hey cheer up Ache Din Aane Wale Hain, so there is no rocket science to writing and thank God, we wrote what the people wanted and not the political parties’ way of writing things which are usually heavy.
What makes you happier, the fact that your BJP campaign resonates with everyone or being part of a historical campaign which changed the government?
No campaign can take the real credit behind the government change; there are thousands of other people who are involved behind it. I never wrote Mr Modi’s speeches nor have I handled any of his social media accounts or won the hearts of millions, he did it himself. Yes, the thing that you were one player in a large team is very satisfying for me.