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AdStand: The campaign that no agency created

History was made at Rio by three women. It is difficult to pinpoint where and when the campaign started. It definitely started on Whatsapp as countless “forwards” that people get. No brand could have delivered this message

Delhi | August 23, 2016

Adstand by Naresh Gupta

Olympics at Rio is over. India won two medals, both by women; two athletes finished fourth, one of them is a woman.

The nation erupted in joy when an unheralded, virtually unknown gymnast, Dipa Karmakar, became the first woman gymnast ever from India to represent India in the sport and marched into the final. She missed Bronze by a whisker and we all know the emotional support the nation gave her.

This was topped by Sakshi Malik who won a bronze in wrestling. PV Sindhu then made it an Olympic to remember by winning Silver in Badminton. Sakshi became the first woman wrestler to win bronze and Sindhu became the first woman shuttler to win Silver. History was made at Rio. History was made by three women.

The spark of campaign

It is difficult to pinpoint where and when the campaign started. It definitely started on Whatsapp as countless “forwards” that people get. The ‘forwarding economy’ was at it very quickly and in no time there were forwards about how the unwanted girl child have saved the blushes for the nation.

This quickly became a firestorm across social media with memes, status messages and tweets, all about how it time for India to pay attention to its daughters.

The messages have not stopped even now with more and more people sharing the messages.

First publicly owned campaign of India

The brilliance of this campaign is that it is not even a campaign. No one owns it, no one is creating it, and no one is propagating it. The public outpouring of sentiment seems to suggest an overwhelming change in the attitude of the country on the girl child. The absolute voluntary nature of the campaign seems to be an indicator that they may be small but there is an aperture of change that exists in our society about the attitude towards the girl child.

No brand could have done this

I haven’t seen a brand capture popular sentiment like this campaign has done. No brand could have delivered this message – not with this compounding power, not with this intensity. This is the power of the ‘forwarding economy’. People joined hands, found interesting things to share, joined the conversation and sent a message for change.

Is there a chance of change?

If the power of sharing economy is on display with this campaign, so is the weakness. There is a good chance that people actually buy into the cause, but there is a good chance that they move on to a new issue and forget about this issue. This is what happens in true mass participative events.

Yet there is a good chance that this campaign will spark off some change in a few people’s mindset. For an issue that is deeply rooted in our psyche, the desire for change is not externally manifested. It has not been pushed as sermon from the authorities; it has not been pushed as a tearjerker from a socially responsible brand.

In future we will see far more such publicly created and fuelled campaigns, campaigns that will have far greater power to change the contours of the society.

We as a country have not won many medals at Rio, but the two that we have can change some deep-rooted societal issues in India.

That is a far bigger victory.

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