Sucheta Dalal :Aircel: Save the Tiger (er not the Sena!!)
Sucheta Dalal

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Aircel: Save the Tiger (er, not the Sena!!)  

February 13, 2010

 A couple of columns back, I had indicated how USP-deprived brands are jumping on to the social service bandwagon. Now, every bleeding heart marketer wants to save the world. IDEA has a long list of social evils up its sleeve. The Times Group wants to sort out Indo-Pak relations through song, shairi and dance. Parle Hippo munchies wants to solve the world hunger crisis. And even before I could start distributing Hippos to the malnourished, in comes Aircel with its ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign.


Aircel, in cahoots with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India, has launched a campaign to highlight the dwindling numbers of tigers in our forests. Apart from the mass media, they have created noise on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, a website has been launched too:


The TV campaign consists of four commercials. One features a lost and lonely little tiger cub. Its mom has gone missing, you see (read: driven out of the forest because of the mad urban encroachment). The rest of the commercials are loaded with celebrities (the ad world can’t do without them!): Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Baichung Bhutia and southern star, Suriya. Each of whom makes an emotional appeal to save the tiger from extinction.


All very fine and dandy, but there’s a huge, huge problem with the concept (the same as IDEA’s ‘Save the trees’). What exactly are we, the aam aadmis, supposed to do to save the animal? For that, Aircel conveniently gives out no answers. Because there can’t be any. We already KNOW the tiger is under threat, the junta is pretty aware of that. What needs to be done is to put some serious pressure on the state governments and the forest departments to make sure poaching and encroachments into forest areas is stopped. And if Aircel had the right intentions, that’s what it would have done. Instead of releasing silly campaigns in the mass media, with no action plan spelt out for the viewers. In other words, another fake public service (or should it be animal service?) campaign created to build the marketers’ own brand, and not much else. What a bloody joke! Tomorrow, another chap will release a ‘public service campaign’ to create awareness on potholes on our city roads! The whole thing is turning into a big tamasha.


By the way, I really do think Shri Bal Thackeray must forget Shah Rukh Khan and hijack this campaign immediately. His party is facing near-extinction, and there’s an action plan possible too: vote for Shiv Sena in the next elections and save Tiger Thackeray from extinction. Now, this makes sense!
Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal