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HDFC Mutual Fund's latest campaign highlights cancer's cruel choice

19-March-2014
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HDFC Mutual Fund's latest campaign highlights cancer's cruel choice

Despite the advances made in medical science, cancer continues to claim lives, while many others are undergoing painful and expensive therapy. Given the cost of treatment involved, which may or may not cure the patient, there are several who choose death instead. This is the tragic and cruel reality of thousands of families of cancer sufferers.

Keeping this in mind, HDFC Mutual Fund has launched a close-ended debt fund for cancer treatment, with lock-in period of three years. As part of the scheme, investors are given an option to donate their returns fully or partially towards helping the needy cancer patients. This money is given to the Indian Cancer Society for providing assistance to the patients.

Conceptualised by Publicis South Asia, an ad film has been rolled out which is running in cinemas and on digital media to drive awareness. The film opens with a young boy and his family celebrating the occasion of his graduation. The boy expresses his gratitude to his mother and then he recalls his father. It is shown that his father chose to skip his cancer treatment to provide education to the son.

Watch the ad here…

Commenting on the campaign, Bobby Pawar, Director, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis South Asia eleborated, “They say advertising isn’t life or death. In this case, they would be wrong. Partha and I weren’t just handed a brief for a campaign, we were given a huge responsibility. Our team and the two of us tried our damndest to be true to it. The answer lay, as it often does, in an untold truth. The cruel choice that so many underprivileged cancer patients live it, ‘Do I risk the money I have saved up for my family’s future on the chance that I might live?’ Hats off to our client, who embraced the idea and never asked to add gloss to the harsh reality. That was brave. Shout out to Manoj, the director, who made it come alive. I hope it makes people emotionally understand what cancer patients and their families go through and it nudges at least a few of them to do something about it. That’s the only measure of success as far as we are concerned.”

Partha Sinha, Director, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis, South Asia added here, “Money in India usually has a stigma attached to it – money can never be good. We wanted to show that money can solve a cruel issue faced by a cancer victim – to choose between treatment and no treatment. This is a cruel reality with many families and this fund was an easy step for people to act against that.”

A real tear-jerker

Expert take
Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Creative Director, Grey Worldwide commented, “I loved the ad, loved how slow and easy paced it was. In this rush-rush world of 30-second commercials, it was refreshing to see a piece of good storytelling. And no surprise either, because Bobby’s a great storyteller.”

“The film was very factually correct too, because I’ve been fortunate to have been invited to a Goan house, and what you see in the film is exactly how it is. People sit around, someone strums a guitar, and stories are exchanged. We, the advertising folks, keep telling ourselves (and other innocent bystanders) that a script needs a neat little twist at the end. This film has none, and it’s no less special. All of us can empathise with the son – we’ve all lost someone close to us to cancer, and all of us have heard of the difficult choices one has to make when thinking about treatment,” he added.

According to Dasgupta, one particular line in the dialogue stood out though. “With his slow rasping breath…” It stood out because ordinary people don’t talk like that. In an otherwise simple slice-of-life film, that seemed like a line crafted by a good English writer.

“As far as delivering the message goes, if this doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will,” he remarked.

Our take
Choice of death over the happiness of a family is one of the harsh decisions forcibly taken by many. They were brave and strong enough to walk towards death due to paucity of funds for the treatment of this life-threatening disease. This campaign is an ode to all the close ones whom we have lost due to cancer.

The treatment of cancer involves enormous flow of funds at regular intervals. The campaign establishes that when confronted with the disease, people are forced to make choices, and many choose to secure funds for family rather than pursuing the expensive treatment.

It urges investors to donate their returns to help the needy cancer patients. The campaign is simple and realistic and narrates the true story of many ailing families. The characters have played their parts brilliantly and brought tears to everyone. It is not every day that we see such a beautiful campaign from a financial services brand touching the right chords. And for all those who believe that it is a long campaign, we should realise that the pain of losing a dear one can’t be restricted to mere 30-seconds. In short, arise and awake because this message needs to be heard.

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