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Bell Bajao ad campaign wins international laurel

Last updated on: July 27, 2010 22:54 IST

Bell Bajao ad campaign wins international laurel

Arthur J Pais

Breakthrough, an organization that uses popular media to advocate women's rights in India and fight for stronger immigrants' rights in the United States, has won the Cannes Silver Lion for its Bell Bajao! (Ring the Bell) series of films.

The ad films -- that highlight the organization's campaign against domestic violence --were screened recently at the Cannes Lions 57th International Advertising Festival in France, considered by many to be the world's biggest celebration of creativity in communications.

"For us it is like winning an Oscar," said Mallika Dutt, founder of Breakthrough and its president and chief executive officer. "It not only legitimizes the work we are doing across India and also shows that such films don't have to come from the West."

Launched two years ago with the support of India's ministry of women and child development and actor Boman Irani, the campaign's ambassador, the ads urge neighbours to ring the bell of the house where they suspect domestic violence is on, and to ask what's going on.

"There is so much talk about India on its way to become a super power," Dutt said. "And yet there is tremendous amount of injustice in the country including women's abuse and the denial of human rights. We take strong proactive steps to lessen the abuse."

Bell Bajao! is the only entry from India to win The Silver Lion in the Film category. The campaign was created pro bono by Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai and directed by Bauddhayan Mukherjee of Little Lamb Films.

New York-based Dutt said the success of Bell Bajao! is a matter of pride for Indian ad creators.

"What is even more amazing is that this series is not about commercial products but about human rights," she added. "We have been aware for many years the importance of using films, music and ad to help women empower themselves. Our work also challenges men to join the movement."

Breakthrough's other campaigns include music albums (Mann Ke Manjeere) and videos (Mann Ke Manjeere, Maati and Babul in collaboration with Shubha Mudgal, Prasoon Joshi, Shantanu Moitra, Mandira Bedi, Mita Vashisht, Samir Soni) and ad campaigns including What Kind Of A Man Are You? (created by McCann Erickson 2004) and Is This Justice? (O&M 2006-07), which addressed HIV-prevention and related violence.

Video Courtesy: Breakthrough