Indian PR industry heads pick their favourite PR campaign

We ask some of India’s top communication leaders to pick their favourite PR campaigns among all the campaigns they have seen over decades of their experience in the industry. Image Management tries to get an insight into what makes these PR campaign stand out for them.

Interestingly, the answers vary from Rupert Murdoch’s media management, to the Red Bull Stratos, Amul’s clever tongue-in-cheek campaigns, to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Find out which campaign is etched on whose mind.

Arun Bhagat, Executive Vice President – Corporate Communications, GMR Group

Last Edition of News of the World

I can’t think of something in India, but the way The Murdochs handled the entire News of The World issue comes to my mind for the best PR campaign.

I think it is my favourite because it was concerning the media, by the media and whatever they did to get out of it, their actions and their communication were rather good.

Deepa Thomas, Head – Corporate Communications & Pop Culture, eBay India

Over the last five years something instrumental that I’ve done is the eBay census, which is now an industry report. It is basically the census of what consumers across the country buying and sellingoneBay, importing and exporting from 28 states and 7 union territories as well as top 20 cities in India.

It has become an industry benchmark, gets quoted widely as an industry report, and it gets referenced by other companies or by industry associations who want to talk about the potential of a few cities. . The way it has turned out to be since we started it in 2008 makes me proud.

Harish Bijoor, Brand Expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Amul is my hot favorite. It is because it packs the true-blue benefit of the brand in a beautiful manner. It does not spend as much money as everybody else spends.

Amul does a very nifty job, its innovation as a campaign is very solid. Just as long as Amul sticks to the netting of their campaigns, I do believe that they will continually do well.

Jaideep Shergill, CEO, MSLGROUP India

Snapshot of The Social Pulpit (Barack Obama's Social Media Toolkit ), released in 2009

To me, the best PR campaign is Obama’s presidential campaign, partially because it was completely unexpected. Who would have thought that an African American guy with a name like Barrack Hussein Obama would become the President of the United States only because he ran such a successful PR campaign?

More importantly, he won because he embraced the digital world which was by then changing the landscape in the U.S. He spotted that early on, and digital became his biggest push, and his is one of the best PR campaigns ever fought or created.

Vineet Arya, Head – Marketing and Communications, Tata Power Solar

One of my favourite PR campaigns is what I did as part of AMD, it is because it was a David vs. Goliath story. We were fighting Intel, which is quite powerful.

In 2005, AMD launched 64 bit, whereas Intel said that 32 bit is sufficient, our finance wasn’t as strong as Intel’s. But we effectively used whatever resources we had to make the world accept that 64 bit is the way to go. We realized that the best way is to influence the influencer and we worked towards the media, and they started writing about the 64 bit, without naming either company.

Ours was an integrated marketing campaign around it, emphasizing the importance of technology in industries. We turned it into an industry issue and let them decide what they want. Their thoughts were in our favour, resulting in higher sales because we were the only ones with 64 bit and then Intel had to catch up to us. They caught up eventually, but we turned the tables around, for once we made Intel follow us.

Nandita Lakshamanan, Founder and CEO of The PRactice

The Red Bull Stratos campaign is my favourite. I would have loved to conceptualize that or be part of the team who conceptualized that.

Yuvraj Mehta, Vice President & Group Head – Corporate Communications at Reliance Infrastructure Limited

One of the campaigns that I did at Samsung is my favourite. We had been given a target to launch a mobile without advertising support and sustain that PR campaign for 3 weeks. Ordinarily, it would have got one day coverage in small fonts; the challenge was to sustain that buzz for 3 weeks because the budget got delayed for advertising.

Samsung was the first company to launch a mobile tracker in India and the objective was to trace lost phones and then seek assistance from the police. We broke that campaign into a frame of 3 weeks.

So the first week spent in creating a ground by educating people about the hazards of losing a mobile phone, and how it can be misused to extremes such as terrorism.  We did a conference in Delhi with the then Head of Police, some members of Cellular Operators Association of India, Nokia and Samsung.  That created a lot of buzz for a week, including a few feature stories. On the 8th day we did a high profile launch with film star in Mumbai, which got us page 3 coverage which lasted another week. During the 3rd week, we hosted a debate at Ansal Plaza and got various TV channels to cover it. We got a few tech experts and people from the industry, various other cell phone brands, some police to debate around the issue of losing mobile phones. This got coverage on few tech shows and their repeat telecasts maintained it for a couple of days. By that time, our advertising team was ready to launch the product, even though by that time the word had spread pan India and the sales shot up.

Abhinav Kanchan, Group Head, Corporate Communications Moser Baer India Ltd

When I was at Arcelor Mittal, I was helping the company acquire land. Earlier their communication was confined to other departments from their headquarters in Luxembourg and London.

They used to spend billions into glossy English magazines while the need of the hour was to buy the land from the tribal community in Jharkhand and Orissa. Since they were illiterate and didn’t have access to those magazines, it was a waste of money.

We started radio program in Jharkhand, we used to send radio journalists who could speak their local language to listen to them and understand their needs. We also distributed a few radios. The show became quite successful, and we added folk and cultural elements to hold their attention, and gradually moved to social issues. They had certain notions about big corporate companies and a deep seated mistrust about trade with them. But our show broke the communication barrier between us.

This is my favourite campaign because the stakeholders are not only media but the villagers, the tribal community, the commoners, and it was an opportunity to utilize communication expertise in an engaging and meaningful manner. Such communication is especially required for infrastructure companies which require land acquisition from the impoverished. Press releases don’t work in such deals. Companies need to listen to the inhabitants of the land, understand ground realities and win their trust.


One thought on “Indian PR industry heads pick their favourite PR campaign

  1. Nice read. Abhinav Kanchan’s experience with Arcelor-Mittal is a truly great PR campaign in the sense that though only radio as a medium was involved, getting the buy-in of villagers in Jharkhand and Odisha, albeit in the short-term, is indeed commendable. However, readers would do well to note that Arcelor-Mittal has pulled out of its Odisha project due to inordinate delays in land acquisition.

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