Monday, July 28, 2008

Sporty Kids

The Euro Cup just got over and the lull is almost painful. Since I don’t believe in football clubs, my only real salvation is the World Cup and the UEFA championship or the occasional Olympics Football matches. I am not too partial with the Olympics, they seem to be cursed for the Brazilians and if the Brazilians aint winnin’, I aint watchin’. Every 2 years there seems to be a higher purpose in life, something beyond work, home and family. Not necessarily undermining the important things in life but taking precedent for the time being. That ‘higher purpose’ for me is ‘football’, I like calling it soccer though, people still think ‘American football’ actually deserves to be called ‘football’ at all! Soccer is the epitome of what I think people ought to be – forward, tough, pushy, relentless, passionate, focused, patriotic, charged, co-dependent and all those wonderful things only seen in a game of football. The exact moment to notice all these feelings is when a goal is scored. Players embrace each other like blood brothers, they cry without shame, they kiss the earth and imagine their motherlands, and it is all so raw and so pure.

Soccer and I started a romance as early as the age of 6, way back in ’82, when televisions were still black and white and stood on ornate wrought iron stands; I remember that some even had wooden shutters. It was summer outside and my dad had decided that I would actually remain awake to watch the matches with him, much to my mother’s disdain. I was already a hyper and mildly violent child; she didn’t need for me to see more hysteria. It was held in Spain that year, a Spanish fruit was the mascot and Netherlands didn’t qualify, those were the two memories that never left me. 25 years on, I am not half as hyper or even slightly violent, I guess that’s one place my mother was wrong, what I am is – persevering, disciplined, ambitious, passionate, patriotic and very proud! Most of that has come from soccer. These days my dearest friend’s son plays football, he is all of 10 but the wisdom that boy exudes has to come from an innate confidence that not all children have. Anant plays for ‘Shimla Youngs’, how I love that name! How wonderful it must be to certify your youth. I have seen this boy blossom in front of my eyes. There is heaviness in his voice that doesn’t come from testosterone, there is a spring in his gait that doesn’t come from nonchalance and most of all there is a ‘nose up in the air’ pride that seems so becoming of ambitious young boys. All these traits are developed from Soccer, I am sure of it. This can be seen in children all over our city but not all kids have such noble reasons for being uppity. Let this be a lesson for us. If the kids must walk proud, the pride ought to come from personal achievements and not the car their father drives. If the kids must talk heavy, it ought to be because they know what they are saying and not because their cantankerous mothers are standing behind them.

Let’s empower our kids. Give them voices with a cause, a purpose, a passion. So whether you have a son or a daughter, sports have to be a part of their lives. Just the way reading is promoted, I wish sports were too. The learning is so unique, no instrument or art can replace team sports. I encourage you to pick schools that promote a sports culture, I urge you to emphasize the need for ESPN over MTV, I beg you to move on from frivolous, urban trends and go back to the good old days of PT. We are all in the era of fast foods, fast friends and fast lives, slow your kids down, hand them a bat, a ball, a racket or just lead them to a swimming pool and let the natural sports person in your child break free!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Judges decision is FINAL!

The campaign was a roaring success; the cause seemed to be close to many hearts. It was encouraging to see the number of people that reacted to a debate that has been raging in India for decades. The steps to enter were simple, log on to or click on the link sent in the mailer and you will reach a landing page where details of the contest were given. Further on there was a simple registration form and that took the designer to the page were our images were available for downloading. The designer could select any one image that inspired them, then download it and start making a difference.

The registrations were in triple digits and the response was as good. By end of week 1 we had more entries than we had imagined, it brought a sense of peace to all of us. The contest ended in a fortnight and we were swamped with designs, one better than the other. The entries were scrubbed of all personal information about the entrant and submitted to our revered judge Mr. Namchu, who has recently joined Contract Advertising as ECD. He was kind enough to respond within days and then we had our 3 big winners. All of us unanimously agreed with his decision, we were happy to see path breaking visuals and ideas come out of a campaign open to all.

I had the pleasure of meeting our 1st prize winner Ms. Garima Arora the week after announcing the results; we wanted to personally hand over the prize. We had a nice chat over coffee and I was happy to learn that Garima was in the corporate sector and had no formal design training. She definitely fooled us because her creative was impactful and extremely easy to absorb. Garima came across as a proud, hard working, focused young woman, much like the women we hope all our daughters will grow up to be, provided we let them and support them. Having lost her father 5 years ago, I could see the pride and confidence he had imbibed in his daughter and I knew his presence was with her. I guess that is what propelled her to become the winner.

To be honest, the 2nd and 3 rd prize winners were no less creative, imaginative and opinionated; one ad just had to stand out. On that note we would like to congratulate Aanton from RK Swamy BBDO, the winner of the 2nd prize. Unfortunately I don’t know under what mindset Aanton created his visual piece because I would love to, his entry was so highly thought provoking and bang on. Apart from the endangered tag what got me in the gut was that women are truly another species, well maybe not scientifically but socially they are.

This entry was outstanding because it addressed the issue in the language that is understood by a large section of Indian society, the people responsible for causes like ‘save the girl child’ to be actually become a cause! Done by Pranav Harihar Sharma and Amol Dhanukar, this Ad had the sensibility to promote an acute design sense and power of local lingo, loved it! I also especially liked their choice of enterprising women, perfect balance of eras and professions.

We hope you liked the entries, we hope they spoke to you the way they spoke to us and I hope this message doesn't end with the campaign.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Power the flower

“Is there a way to quantify ‘progress’, when it comes to the female sex? In a country where men significantly outnumber women and in a world where businesses are still largely run by men, the scope of opportunity is bleak. Women across the globe have been conditioned into multi tasking and that’s a skill they tend to take with them to their married homes and their urban jobs. In 61 years of independence, a new stratum of female workers has emerged. This is a demographic that comprises of women of all ages that have one thing in common, circumstance. These women value enterprise, respect labor, crave financial freedom and ultimately desire to be ‘individuals’.
And yet we deny these women a place in the sun, even before they become people, we deny them the right to live. What we need to do is eliminate discrimination and not the ‘child’. In order address the issue of ‘elimination’ we must incorporate awareness as a solution and a tool.

Academic courses are now being offered at high school level, mainly to discourage young marriages and also to encourage a sense of enterprise. Indian girls fare better in school and given the opportunity, they are more likely to complete college. The main reasons women don’t work in India are high birth rates, discrimination and complete lack of support. Opportunity fortunately is not lacking any longer. Women are making their way into aviation, armed forces, politics and other male bastions but this is at a macro level. Look closer and you will see a new, young and innocent India. Between the grass roots are the future mothers of India’s business force,
India’s entrepreneurs, India’s young Turks!”

This was the introduction for a CSR campaign did in conjunction with last month. It was probably one of the most painful forewords to write because contextually it was hitting home in two ways, I am a woman and I have a daughter. Both of which I consider blessings. So it is hard to imagine a world that thinks otherwise. Please excuse my gullibility, I have seen the statistics and I know that majority of couples that abort a female child are urban couples in metro cities. So I guess it isn’t one ‘those’ things after all. It is a rampant, heartfelt, reacted upon evil we are construing as an issue that only old India dealt with. A sculptor I met in Nainital once told me that this ‘son’ fixation was all over the world. The typical all American father wanted nothing more than a son to toss a ball or two with and that Nordic fisherman would never dream of taking a daughter on board. I listened quietly and when he was done I asked if any of these fathers killed the daughters in the womb? He said ‘no’!

There is no dearth of media focus on this subject and yet it refuses to go away, we managed to curb AIDS numbers but we can’t get the natural balance in our population back! So in a series we want to simply call ‘SAVE’, this is the first installment – ‘Save the Girl child’.

This campaign was promoted extensively by Exchange4Media and we were honored to receive entries in triple digits, considering there were no prizes mentioned the mailer, this seemed like a purely 'social responsibility' kind of activity. The idea was simple yet driven by a deeper cause. We offered 3 images to the creative community to come up with a poster on 'Save the girl child'. We wanted an 'awareness poster' yet we were keen to avoid a typical preachy quality that awareness campaigns have and project a more emotional representation of the plight of Indian girls.

Watch this space for the winners. Due to immense popularity of this campaign we would like to make this contest available to the readers of our blog as well. Please wait for details on the next topic and the images you can use.