Prateek Bhardwaj writes about putting community at the centre of campaigns

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What a feeling! To end up near the very top of the Effie leaderboard, and that too with less than half the number of entries of some other agencies. Most number of golds on the night. Most number of silvers too. And a very happy Client of the Year. I’ve received many calls from friends saying it felt like Lowe Lintas was the real winner at Effies 2021. Well, almost. We’ll claim that next year, fair and square. In the meantime, congratulations to the actual winners.

What made us happiest was the work that won big for us. Whether it was H for Handwashing or Kaampwapasi or Google, all the work had big ambitions to solve genuine human problems at its center.

Kaamwapasi was an idea that hit us when we saw migrant labour walking back home during the first phase of the covid lockdown. It was a humanitarian crisis like no other. What leapt out at us was the fact that the journey back would be even more frightful for daily wagers. These were the people who collected at labour chowks and picked up odd jobs to survive in the city. How would they know which labour chowk to return to? That’s why we decided to take the labour chowk to them instead. Kaamwapasi is a mobile website we developed ourselves to help daily wagers find out where work is available before returning to the cities. What was really heartening was the support so many brands and clients came forward with. From Radiocity to Zee to Axis to Airtel, all threw their weight behind it. At its peak, Kaamwapasi had nearly 45,000 daily jobs on offer on the platform. And that, to us, is the biggest award for all the effort we put in.

Another multiple award-winning client for us was Google. What was common to the wins, across different Google products, was that they all had the role of voice at the centre. A little clue perhaps to what the future holds. For Google Assistant, the strategy was simple. Become the defacto Google Search through voice. Our campaign, ‘knowledge knows no language’, delved into true stories of people whom voice search has empowered.

The one I personally love the most is the story of a lady autorickshaw driver who educates herself to help her own kid with their homework. Apart from Assistant, another Google product that won for us was Google Nest, a campaign about a Goan family preparing little Nancy D’Costa to play the role of Rani Laxmibai in a school play. The campaign was shot just before the Covid lockdown hit us and could not air. After months of waiting in vain for things to normalise, we decided to completely re-edit it to avoid any Covid-insensitive scenes. The work that came out had a different ending to the one we shot. But it still worked and nobody could tell that it was a rehashed film. But that’s the power of having a great story at the centre of your campaign – it builds immunity to Covid induced re-edits.

(This article was first published in LBB Online)