Akshay Kumar’s road safety call: An unusually funny & witty govt ad that stood out at PTA

The three-film 'Sadak Suraksha Jeevan Raksha' campaign created by Helios Media, was adjudged the Best TV Commercial at the recently held exchange4media’s Prime Time Awards

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 16, 2019 10:26 AM

Think of a government ad. What is the picture that comes to your mind? Most likely, it will be a no-frill serious film delivering the message in a preachy way. Not your fault. That’s the kind of government ads we are used to watching. Wit, quirk, humour or entertainment are definitely not the features we associate with ads of the government. And so, if a government ad is adjudged the Best TV commercial at the prestigious exchange4media’s Prime Time Awards, defeating hundreds of entries, it definitely calls for a thought. 

The ad in question is the Transport Ministry’s road safety campaign with Akshay Kumar. And most of us who have watched it will surely not disagree with the jury. The three-film 'Sadak Suraksha Jeevan Raksha' campaign was created by Helios Media in collaboration with Bharat Dabholkar, Kiran Vernekar, and Sayali Kulkarni. It was directed by R Balki. 

The ad film is a complete shift from the usual serious style of government ads. The films, which see Akshay Kumar turning into a traffic cop, have a very quirky and humorous approach to the serious issue of road safety. And lines such as ‘aapke baap ka road nahi hai!’ give the coolest of commercials a run for their money and of course leave the audience wondering if it is actually a government ad. 


So how did this non-government-like government advertisement come into being? 

It wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, says Divya Radhakrishnan, Managing Director, Helios Media. 

Sharing the story behind the making of the campaign, Radhakrishnan, says, “There was a lot of contribution from Mr. Gadkari. He took a very keen interest. In fact, he approved the script in just 5 minutes. He was very clear that we should not make the ad like a typical government ad. He wanted us to make it like the way ads of brands are made. Working for this ad was a fabulous experience.” 

According to Radhakrishnan, even Akshay Kumar was a big contributor.

“He gave a lot of inputs. He wanted the film to be made very well so that the message is delivered properly. In fact, he did not even charge for it. All that he wanted was a good director so that the film comes out well. It was he who suggested Balki as the director,” she said. 

Radhakrishnan feels it is the “sleekness of production and the way the message has been communicated” that make the films stand out. 

Remembering the thought process that went into conceptualising the ad, she says the biggest issue was how to bring novelty to a message, like ‘wear a helmet’, that has already been delivered to people many times.

“When we got the brief for road safety, we tried several concepts. They were all good, but we felt that that the message was not getting through. That’s when we zeroed down on humour and cracked the concept.”  

The campaign has achieved good popularity on social media, receiving 4 crore views. “And this was organic. It was shared just from Minister Gadkari's and Akshay Kumar’s handles. This is a one-of-its-kind response,” mentioned Radhakrishnan.

The victory at the Prime Time Awards was obviously a sweet moment for everyone involved in the making of the ad. But with a government ad winning an award like this for the first time, it was a special moment even for the ministry.

“It was the first time that an ad made by the government of India has won such an award. It was such a heartening thing for them (ministry) that Mr. Gadkari called us to his office and honoured us.”

A campaign that delivers a social message in an entertaining way is probably a campaign done the best way. We hope to see many more such ads in the future, especially from the government. 

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