Arati Rao
May 09, 2011

Publicis Capital and IndiaPicture devise 'Blow Up' to save public property during protests

WATCH the video of the case study and the video letters to protesters

Publicis Capital and IndiaPicture devise 'Blow Up' to save public property during protests

Publicis Capital and IndiaPicture are throwing their weight behind an initiative to save public property, like buses, from being burnt during protests. The idea: give protesters a 'Blow Up' of the image of the vehicle for free as an effigy to vent their anger.

WATCH the case study (story continues below)



Campaign India found out more in an interview with Publicis Capital's national creative director, Emmanuel Upputuru, and IndiaPicture's founder and chief executive officer, Dushyant Mehta.

CI: How did the idea for Blow Up originate?

Emmanuel Upputuru: I was travelling to Delhi recently (I stay in Guragon now) and I saw these sexy new buses that the government had launched. They are as good as the ones we see in Eurpoe. The first thought that occured was, one day in a protest, angry people will burn it. From that time I have been thinking of an idea: what if we give literally a 'vehicle' for venting to these angry people. Then to make it practical and easy, we finalised it to: we will give 'images' that you can convert to effigies and burn. That's when I met the Mehta brothers, Dushyant and Hemant. They not only appreciated the idea, but were very keen to blow up the idea. We then roped in iCongo and other NGOs to spread the word around. The first ones to come forward were the Gujjar Community. Where the local leader spoke to his followers about the misuse of the freedom of speech, and also vowed that he will not allow the destruction of public property in any future agitation. Then the fire spread to Bihar, where we got in touch with a mob that had burnt the Bihar State Electricity Board Building because they didn't have power to watch the India-Pakistan semi-final match. Their leader Prakash Jain came forward and told his supporters that the office was built with their money and will be rebuilt with their money, so it's a good idea to make effigies and burn. Currently NGOs, political leaders from Kashmir, Goa, Mumbai are planning to hold such events in the coming weeks. 

Dushyant Mehta: When Emmanuel told us about the idea, we found an immediate connect to it on two accounts.

One that it was the use of images for a greater good and in a way that it has not been done till now, and secondly coming from Kashmir, we have seen a lot of destruction of  Old buildings and other public property. So here was an idea which could give people an option to save public property but still protest.

CI: What was the process of the creation, and spreading the word?

EU: The images that represent public property were chosen: like the DTC bus for the Haryana Blow Up and an ambassador car for Bihar Blow Up. Life-size prints were taken and were offered to the communities. The images were converted into effigies with the help of bambo and jute and then burnt to demonstrate how to protest without damaging public property. iCongo spread the word to relevant target audience like activists and political leaders.

At India Habitat Centre on April 26, there was an exhibition of photos of protests, a panel discussion on the fundamental rights versus fundamental duties. The panelists were representatives from the three biggest political parties of India, Congress, BJP and BSP. Also a microsite was launched where images will be made available to political parties, NGOs who want to protest peacefully.

Three video letters have also been created. Each addressed to "Dear protester against inflation", "Dear protester against powercuts", and "Dear protester against the new bill". They are being emailed to all political parties and NGOs with a message, "Download images of public property from and burn them, instead of actual public property."

WATCH the video letters (interview continues below)







CI: What do you and IndiaPicture hope the initiative will achieve, and how will you sustain it in the long term?

EU: The quote that guides me is by Graham Fink, "If you know what you are doing, you are not doing anything original." When it started, it was a small demonstration I had planned  to take to political leaders, to show them how protests can be done, but when I saw local leaders in Haryana and Bihar coming forward to embrace the idea, I was just thrilled.

To test the power of contagious ideas, can it actually change the conversation? Does anyone talk about the loss incurred during protests? I am glad that we got a couple of political leaders interested in Haryana, Bihar, Kashmir, Mumbai. But I am pretty excited that a debate has been sparked off and now it remains to be seen if the flame can be sustained. We are talking to relevant stakeholders like for example insurance companies, bus manufacturers, real estate guys, and media channels.

And on the other hand, I wanted to change one more conversation. Clients call agencies for a pitch. Can we turn the tables please? Can we have an idea and ask clients to pitch for it? I didn't exactly auction this idea, but during and after the launch of Blow Up, many image banks called me up and said, "We want to do this." (I am glad we went ahead with IndiaPicture - they have been an awesome partner.) Isn't that an idea in itself?

DM: The achievement will be once the idea gets on to the public domain. As of now, we are showcasing and executing the idea with various social and political organisations, and we want it to get to a stage where they start executing the concept themselves. There are two aspects required for the sustenance,  one is the images and second is the physical  print. IndiaPicture has devoted its archive of images for this campaign, so the image search on is powered by IndiaPicture image archive  which is of more than 20 million images, for the printing we will be taking the support of the social  and political organisations.  We are aware that the success of this idea is in partnerships and that is what our next focus is.  


Creative Team: Emmanuel Upputuru, Prasad Raghavan, Tanuja Goyal, Ayan Das, Rohit Baga, Mayank

Account Management: Gunajn Malhotra, Rshabh Sood from Account Management

Little Lamb Films: Surya Balakrishnan, Bauddhayan Mukherji, Siddharth Nima 

iCongo: Jeroninio Almeida

Indiapicture: Dushyant Mehta, Hemant Mehta, Swapnil Tripathi

Campaign India