The campaign featuring Kangana Ranaut takes cue from the proverb, ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’
PM Narendra Modi had launched a national project, Swachh Bharat, to create awareness regarding cleanliness in the country. A basic civic sense which unfortunately most of us lack. There were hoardings, banners, TVCs as well as a taxation cess which was added to make impact on people and their mindset.
To refresh the message for citizens, a new ad has been released on TV and digital media directed by filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar featuring Kangana Ranaut as goddess Lakshmi. The rest of the starcast includes Isha Koppikar, Ravi Kishan and Omkar Kapoor as commoners who worship the goddess but litter their streets, and Amitabh Bachchan as the narrator who urges people to not #LetHerGo as goddess Lakshmi stays where there is cleanliness.
While we are busy worshipping for health and wealth, the true meaning of ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ is lost for many Indians. A simple concept, the film is self explanatory. If you litter, the goddess at home will leave no matter how much you worship her. It focusses on the importance of cleanliness not just inside our houses but also in public places.
“For a ‘god-fearing’ country, the campaign could work,” muses Arun Iyer, CCO, Lowe Lintas. However, there are many industry stalwarts who are not happy with the depiction of the goddess. Tweeted writer and former adwoman Anuja Chauhan, “Don’t know what to make of this bit of work. Do only Hindus litter? Should everybody else feel excluded or flattered?”
Expressing similar views, Thoughtshop founder and CCO Vipin Dhyani says the advertising fraternity usually doesn’t look at religion and targets homogeneous audiences. “I feel there was myopia at the script level.”
In the past, despite countless ‘Keep India clean’ messages and efforts undertaken by the government, there is still lack of involvement amongst people on the issue. The current campaign is quite different from the previous one which was conceptualised by Grey group India and launched in 2014, wherein people who littered were seen shamed by others in the society. The agency believed that shaming people who litter, was a compelling idea and could become an effective behaviour change tool, once it got traction in social media and ground activation.
Unfortunately, the shaming idea hasn’t been able to make much difference. Adds Dhyani, “We, as a society, keep our homes and worship place very clean and litter outside. Shaming didn’t work in the past. I don’t know if the thought of Lakshmi going away if we litter will work either. Therefore, there is a need to go beyond all this and do something that shakes people’s inertia.”
Then there are others who believe that though communication is necessary, the need of the hour is better facilitation on ground as well. “We don’t see people littering in five-star hotels. If roads are cleaner and dustbins are installed every few metres, change can and will come faster,” asserts Abhijit Avasthi of Sideways. Seconds Sandipan Bhattacharya, chief strategy offer, Grey group India, “The Prime Minister’s campaign surely needs booster shots to remind people that there’s a lot of ground left to cover, after that initial burst of selfies with jhadoos.” However, communication can only do so much and he concurs that the government machinery needs to work in tandem with such campaigns.