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Unicef flushes good money on bad poo

Just saw this campaign from Unicef done by JWT. It is called Poo2Loo. Apparently its been running for more than a year now with major focus on digital media.



Who is it aimed at?
It is in English. the styling in international. The setting is urban. probably Mumbai. The nearly 3 minute long video does not tell you anything new - why is it still a problem? why do people defecate in open? How can one help? All it does in those three entertaining minutes is elicit a nod from the upper class Indian who feels disgusted living in Indian cities. It reinforces disgust, without telling what is to be done about it. 'take the poo to the loo' doesn't count because it doesn't mean anything.
It does not feature the people who defecate at all. Leave alone empathy, there is no recognition of the other class.
It is from a point of view of a class which does not see the other class of people, only their shit.
The video merely bolsters cynicism towards India. It talks to the generation and class of young people in India who want nothing to do with India that exists around them. The campaign talks to the young India that forever lives in digital bubbles of their own making. The campaign depicts the one moment of breach in bubble - the moment when they soil their feet walking on turd while busy texting.

What was the objective?
To break the taboo about talking potty among young apparently. People might share the video but that is not all. They are sharing cynicism with the video about India. And the cynicism perpetrated is not constructive either. It merely is.

Its like saying 'Just say no', but worse
(worse because it is useless)

'Just say no' was a command to the drug user by a clueless non drug user. Just say no was  not as much about actually solving drug abuse problem as much it was about making the non-drug users feel good about themselves. "We know better and we are telling you to stop doing it."
It was more harmful than useful.

About poo2loo... "The best way to start is to spread the word that this is not acceptable in the India we all want to live in" says a bureaucrat from Unicef

So Unicef is consolidating the view of what is not acceptable among upper class Indians through upper class channels in upper class language about lower class Indians who do not have access to toilets for whatever reasons. And it fails to communicate to those who do it about what is not acceptable. (I guess, Unicef rightly assumed that people who defecate in open aren't necessarily poor. They have TVs, mobile phones. Many of them use internet once in a while. But do they seriously think that this video will reach them? They could have just checked out content on the mobile phones of the guards and drivers who work in Unicef office. They don't download multimedia off net like we do. There is a whole micro economy of content that feeds into phones of the lower middle class. and this video cannot possibly find its way in there.)

Poo2Loo has a catchy song and command to be bandied about by the upper class. The fact that no solution was even hinted at in the video is not a coincidence. It was meant for the entertainment of the upper class. If even a hint of something useful were to intrude the jingle, it would have gotten too real too fast. It is like the problem animators face with the valley of uncanny. getting real spoils the broth. the video would have never received even the modest views that it has.

But then what is the point of making the video?
exactly. good money wasted. I bet there was no strategy planner involved with the project from JWT. It is a vanity project by a creative team with intentions of award in craft and a client who wanted to show something appealing to higher ups abroad.
Tell me if I guessed wrong.

Comments

Amrita Puniani said…
The commercial was less informative yes, but I loved it still :)
Ajinkya said…
welcome janu.
i loved seeing it as well. it is a well made commercial, no doubt.
Bruce Vain said…
Good review. Agree with a lot there!
Mike Follett said…
Well said, Jinxy. The people who are forced by circumstance to defecate in the street don't need a three-minute lecture on how shameful their behaviour is. Perhaps the mighty JWT, the second richest ad agency in India, could use some of their profits to build some loos for the people they so enjoy insulting?
Ajinkya said…
@bruce
thanks :)

@mike
so nice to see your comment. thanks.
exactly. I can imagine the south mumbai crowd from the JWT drooling at the prospect of an award with this ad, without a thought about what actually they are saying or its impact.

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