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Google salutes democracy with Independent India’s first-ever voter

Ogilvy creates yet another brilliant ad for Google, this time highlighting the story of Shyam Saran Negi, a 97-year-old retired school teacher from Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

Sohini Sen | Mumbai | March 28, 2014

Click on the image to watch the TVC. Click on the image to watch the TVC.

At a time when TV screens, our laptops and billboard hoardings have suddenly been taken over by political parties, Google has brought an emotive campaign that urges and encourages Indians to cast their vote.

General Elections 2014 is probably the most important one in recent times. The nation has been talking about change and responsibility. But all that can only happen when one and all go out to vote.

Keeping this idea in mind, Ogilvy & Mather has created a touching video featuring the first voter of Independent India – Shyam Saran Negi, a 97-year-old retired school teacher from Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh.

Abhijit Avasthi Abhijit Avasthi

Abhijit Avasthi, National Creative Director, Ogilvy India, explained, “While all of us crib about the state of affairs in the country and there is cynicism about the government, we forget that the only weapon of change we have in our hands is our vote. Like so many others, Google too wants to motivate people, especially youngsters, to exercise their right to vote. But rather than being preachy, it wants to do it the inspirational and emotional way. And who better to inspire us than Mr Negi, who has diligently, and with pride, carried out this duty since 1951. We are all fortunate to have him present amongst us.”

India's first General Elections were held in early 1952. But an exception was made for Kinnaur in anticipation of snowfall, and hence elections were held there earlier, in October 1951. That’s when Shyam Saran Negi, lovingly known as ‘Masterji’, got a chance to cast his first vote for the first time. Since that time Masterji has gone and voted at each and every election. He continues to be an inspiration for his family, friends and community.

His journey has been captured in a beautiful video which shows him struggling to get to the election centre. There is a monologue where he remembers the day he cast his first vote. He tells the story about why the vote in Himachal was done six months before the rest of the country. He is also shown to teach young schoolchildren to have faith in democracy. He promises to himself that no matter what happens - whether it rains or shines - he will always go and vote. As he reaches the poll booth, the younger generation is waiting for him. He is welcomed with garlands and music. The story is then shared via captions.

The TVC ends with him casting his vote with the caption: “Believer in the power of democracy since 1951.” It also gives a web link where one can pledge to vote.

Sandeep Menon Sandeep Menon

Sandeep Menon, Director, Marketing, Google India, said, “The 2014 General Elections promise to be a landmark in the history of this nation. Perhaps more than any other election in the past, these elections are about capturing the imagination of millions of both first-time as well as experienced voters. This video has been developed to inspire Indian voters to vote this election. The story of Mr Shyam Negi is a testimony of the Indian voters’ belief in the power of democracy.”

The film was shot in Mr Negi's hometown, Kalpa, over several days in early March. The team worked closely with the village folk and Mr Negi. The time spent with the protagonist in this lovely mountain town helped bring alive not just his story, but even his commitment to the country.

Navin Talreja Navin Talreja

“Four out of 10 registered online voters don't plan to cast their vote because of lack of inspiration and/or information. Our task is to drive voting through a simple inspirational story. Behaviour change can be motivated in many ways and the best stimulus is often a real story. All the people who have seen the film have said, ‘If Mr Negi can go out and vote at this age (97 years old), we should too’. Hopefully 800 million voters will think and do the same,” commented Navin Talreja, President, Ogilvy Mumbai & Kolkata.

The TVC:



Client: Google

Creative Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

National Creative Director: Abhijit Avasthi

Group Creative Director: Sukesh Nayak

President, Mumbai & Kolkata: Navin Talreja

Business Head: Namrata Keswani

Production House: Thinkpot Films

Director: Manoj Pillai

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