Inside McCann Worldgroup's atypical design-first campaign for G20 Summit in India

In an exclusive chat with, Rajit Gupta, Executive Creative Director, McCann Worldgroup, provided insights into the creation of India's design-focused G20 Summit campaign. He discussed the conceptualisation, execution, and more behind 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - One Earth, One Family, One Future'

Shreya Negi
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Inside McCann Worldgroup's atypical design-first campaign for G20 Summit in India

Mandated with the responsibility of conceiving and managing the multimedia campaign for India’s Presidency in the recently concluded G20 Summit, McCann Worldgroup in collaboration with sherpa Amitabh Kant made over 200 AVs. Additionally, they created 1000 design creatives that were displayed on every highway and by-lane in India.

The challenge, however, was bigger than it seemed as the advertising landscape in India is dominated by traditional TVCs and social media campaigns comprising short media content and design has never been a language upon which we see entire campaigns being created.

Rajit Gupta

With the campaign for the G20 however, the design team led by Rajit Gupta, Executive Creative Director, McCann Worldgroup, took the opportunity to do just that and ended up making this design-led campaign one of their success stories.


Hence, to get a behind-the-scenes view into what went behind the making of India’s one of the most recent and successful design-led multimedia campaigns, sat down with the man behind it all, Gupta. The discussion delved deep into the making of the logo, tagline and OOH designs.

As per Gupta, it all started with the Government of India calling an open logo competition for the G20 Summit, nationwide, followed by McCann Worldgroup being mandated with the overall communications.

“Through the interactions I had with Amitabh Kant, we agreed that an inseparable part of India—the palette of India, so to speak— is its colourfulness. And so, this became the singular narrative we would communicate through our artworks to the foreign delegates. But in doing so, we needed to be mindful of striking the right balance. That is, the narrative and the works that originated from it needed to resonate with the people of India. That’s when we decided to just have fun and play around with all these different elements that are thoroughly Indian,” he recalled. 

Because the overall branding had to be vibrant and optimistic to truly capture the energy of India, he said, “Our logo comprised 3 parts- the placement of the globe atop the lotus, the colour gradients from the tricolour lending themselves to the iconography, and the tagline- ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam- One Earth, One Family, One Future’.”


Commenting on the thought process behind the agency choosing the selected elements for the symbol, he said that the logo symbol came out of the competition. The agency re-interpreted the same and used the seven petals of the lotus to represent the coming together of the seven seas and seven continents for India’s presidency of the G20 Summit.

As for the tagline, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, he mentioned that it was penned by Prasoon Joshi, CEO, McCann Worldgroup and went on to become the foundation for all three phases of the summit.

Commenting on the tagline, he said, “With the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, we wanted to achieve a balance between celebrating our culture, history, and heritage while embracing the world and global values. That is why, in our logo, we feature the globe inside the open lotus. It also upholds the Indian tenet of Vasudhaiva Katumbakam which was something we wanted to preserve and was somewhat of a centerpiece in our thinking of it all.”

With this, Gupta also emphasised that the G20 logo and its theme signified the shared global commitment towards sustainable, inclusive, and responsible growth. That the lotus petals spreading outwards, coupled with the globe, further reinforces this idea of global unity and cooperation. 

“Since India’s presidency at the G20 Summit was a global collaboration with India being the gatekeeper of a utopia, the 20 powers of the world came together to build, the colour palette picked up by the agency drew from the colours of the Indian flag, lending it a thoroughly Indian identity,” he added.


Speaking about the phases of the campaign that followed, he said that once the thematic and branding elements were put in place, the agency kickstarted the first phase of its communications.

The first phase comprised designating the petals from the logo as the primary visual element for both visuals and in-motion graphics as the objective behind the same was to acquaint people with the G20 logo and its theme.

“Our aim was to artistically communicate the message, priorities, themes, and development story of India’s G20 Presidency— with a focus on capturing India’s diverse and multicultural identity, as well as its modern advancements across a range of sectors. Our motif then underwent a series of reiterations for the next phase and the phases following that. These manifested themselves through an array of artworks with each piece reflecting one of the G20’s priorities- trade and investment, environment and climate sustainability, health, tourism, infrastructure, women empowerment, and traditional medicine,” he said.


Sharing his thoughts on how different it was to come up with a campaign for an event of this stature as opposed to working with corporates, Gupta stated that the government’s agenda seemed impossible yet grounded- to evoke a tangible sense of pride in the people of India.

In contrast to the usual methods and processes with which a campaign is cracked, Gupta pointed out that theirs was anything but usual. 

“We decided early on to break away from the formula, it was a new genre of brief and we decided we needed a new approach. And it was when we achieved that freedom that we felt like we were ready to pitch our idea to Amitabh Kant. Turns out, it was worth the risk.”


Talking about why the agency went for a design-led campaign, he opined that being a creative agency, they wanted to go about it with creative audacity. "What went a long way in the successful execution of the campaign was the sharp brief given by the Ministry to the agency.”

Concludingly, he also mentioned that what made the design-led campaign so successful was that it mirrored the stage of the growth journey India is in now- 'Big and scalable'. 

“It was really refreshing because unlike with other government clients I’ve had the chance to work with before, Amitabh Kant and the Ministry of External Affairs were somebody I could talk with in a design language. You know, they understood and appreciated the nuances of our craft and our thinking behind the designs. At the end of the day, this was an incredible opportunity that sought to make the G20 brand iconic while also giving us the chance to challenge ourselves as designers. It felt like reinventing the wheel, in a lot of ways,” he said.

India advertising McCann Worldgroup design-first campaign Rajit Gupta G20 Summit presidency delegates lotus Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam Prasoon Joshi Amitabh Kant Sherpa multimedia campaign overall communications