Language is more than just a tool for communication; it helps build cultural identities. And at least one language unifies us all in India, even though many of us may not have realised this. This is the message that Axis Bank is sending out through its new #23in23 campaign, which makes the point that while the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution recognises 22 languages, Indian Sign Language, something every Indian inadvertently speaks, also deserves due recognition. Upon its release, on India’s 74th Republic Day, the video that delivers this important message was widely circulated as its concept immediately tugged at the heart.
The video struck a powerful chord on 26 January, when we celebrate the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Interestingly, the film also pointed out that every Indian already speaks Indian Sign Language (ISL) – a reference to gestures like, ‘Namaste’, a goodbye wave, the wag of an index finger to admonish, and so on, that also happen to be part of the ISL lexicon – thus delivering the message in a warm, light-hearted way. The message is in line with AxisBank’s Dil Se Open philosophy. “Open”, the bank’s website states, “is more than a sign that hangs on our door,” and its campaigns drive this point across, accentuating the bank’s commitment to social good.
Previous campaigns have, for instance, included “Reverse The Khata”, “Khata” being the Hindi word for the line of credit small vendors extend regular customers; through the pandemic, AxisBank urged customers to reverse this arrangement to support their neighbourhood vendors, whose earnings would have taken a big hit at the time. Similarly, “Shop Wali Shopping” urged shoppers to shop in person at hard-hit shops when life returned to the new normal; and “Maa Maaf Nahi Karegi,” was a strong statement against the perpetrators of potentially life-threatening frauds involving medical devices.
As part of the new #23in23 campaign, the bank also re-released its ‘picture-in-picture’ films – in which Indian Sign Language interpreters translate the content of the ad in gestures – to reiterate the importance of communication, something that’s central to the quality of all relationships, whether personal or professional. This is the first time in India that an advertisement has included sign language, and it is a huge step in the right direction.
By showing #AxisBank employees going out of their way to reach out to other oft-excluded groups, like the elderly, day-wage workers and people who reside in remote areas the re-released videos of the ‘Dil Se Open’ campaign connect the dots between the bank’s ethos and its Indian Sign Language campaign. It’s clear that the bank’s aim is to ensure that this message reaches all groups in society – especially the hearing impaired.
Aside from emphasising the importance of ISL, the videos that have been cleverly conceptualised by Grey Group, also make a powerful case for inclusion. Seen together, they advocate for a deeper sense of community, stressing on the need to ensure that no group is left out of important celebrations or out of important conversations. Ultimately, viewers are left with the idea that when you bank with #AxisBank, you’re not only building a better financial future for yourself and your loved ones, but a better country.