The greatest Indian marketing campaign

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Bitan Chakraborty, Marketing Head - Hiland Group, Kolkata

If we were to scan across our collective memories to recollect the great marketing campaigns that India has seen, we would find our mindscape strewn with innumerable brands hailing from categories as diverse as social awareness to commodities to consumer products to films to elections. All these would qualify to be called great for the impact they created on our minds and the resultant behavioural change we submitted ourselves to.

However, there is one that stands tall amongst all these – The Indian Freedom Movement. It seems to have all the ingredients, tools and strategies that one employs to design a comprehensive marketing campaign and style it as a 360-degree strategy.

Of the 4Ps of marketing, ‘Freedom from the British’ was the first P, i.e., the ‘product’ or concept that was being marketed, the second P of ‘price’ was the ‘utmost sacrifice’ that the seekers of this product wished to offer, the third P of ‘promotion’ involved any media we can think of from ATL, BTL, PR to viral, the fourth P of ‘place’ i.e., the distribution for this concept or product was spread across every corner of this entire nation. This marketing campaign had within it various advertising campaigns to convey thoughts, ideals or philosophy to the masses.

To fathom in this 21st century of the internet, that ideals or philosophies like satyagraha, swadeshi, civil disobedience, non-cooperation or Quit India espoused at some singl e location in this vast country would spread across this entire nation in no time without any formal mass media is just baffling and awe inspiring.

The theory of every single philosophy  would first be articulated by the national leaders who were at the helm and then gradually the same would trickle down to the farthest corner of the nation through discourses by local leaders at gatherings. Each of these theories would then have a BTL side to it to demonstrate the practical result that the philosophy intends to achieve and enable everybody to participate in the process and experience the outcome. All the activities like burning of foreign goods, adoption of indigenously developed goods, ‘jail bharo’, ‘gherao’ of administrative units leading up to the Dandi March are the BTL manifestations.

The various local newspapers and publications did the PR job while other communication collaterals like pamphlets, posters, banners, wall paintings were widely used. The radio was the most modern ATL media communication. However, it was viral (word-of-mouth) that was the most effective in terms of reach.

The campaign for every philosophy had a national brand endorser as in the national leader espousing the thought and it also had the various local brand endorsers as in the local leaders who would build up local support for the cause and target the British administration across the country.

Here was a marketing campaign which promoted the product or concept of ‘Freedom from the British’ to an entire national population without considering any SEC parameter. The medium and the message used to be the same whatever be the SEC of the target audience, and needless to say, no one ever got the communication wrong because of that. Yes, even at that time we had language translations of the national campaign for the various regions, and communicated by the local brand endorser of the region!

The manner in which an entire nation was stirred to take up the cause of ‘Freedom from the British’ and fight for it has no parallel in any marketing history. Which is why, perhaps we should start taking lessons in marketing from the Indian Freedom Movement – The Greatest Marketing Campaign in India, ever.

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