Progressive Advertising: Why We Love This Video Of India's Hijra Community Encouraging Seat Belt Safety

Progressive Advertising: Why We Love This Video Of India's Hijra Community Encouraging Seat Belt Safety

By the time you read this, chances are the slickly-dressed eunuchs of ‘The SeatBelt Crew’ have already pervaded your newsfeed, if not your entire computer screen. They would have quite possibly gone ‘viral’ thereby taking every ounce of depth out of their message, opting instead to engage bigger numbers at a more superficial level. But the real challenge here, is to keep the conversation going. Their Public Service Announcement is a massively important one in a society with the most ludicrous road safety habits ever, so we decided to dive a little deeper with the think tanks behind the project.

Context First

Indian drivers think they’re invincible. We’ve all sat in that rickshaw or cab which could very well take on a roller-coaster in the adrenaline rush department. And we’ve all cut lanes, screeched to a halt and nearly killed about 1000 people since we were sneakily provided a license without ever having to give a test. So how in the world do you get such a rowdy bunch to wear their seat belt? By making sure you can’t ignore the message obviously.
In that light, employing the use of Hijras (who have made a living out of begging, threatening, beating and blessing at traffic signals) when people have no escape is sheer genius.

Why Hijras? 

India enjoys a fairly unique relationship with the Hijra community. While they may not be treated with absolute equality, there's a sense os sacredness and worship behind how most people treat them as they are considered sacred, or 'touched by god.' In that vein, they have been called upon on many auspicious occasions by thousands of Indian households to provide their blessings.

Since motorists are constantly engaging with them at signals, exchanging blessings for cash, who better to enforce such a public safety message, that too, with such style.

The ingenious team behind it:

Ogilvy Mumbai: Ritik Sachdev, Nithin Narayan, Francis Thomas; Vishal Bagade-ACD; Ryan Mendonca- ACD; Zenobia Pithawalla- ECD
RGBA Studios: Director- Faramarz Wankadia and D.O.P - Vikas Munipalle
This is what RGBA Studios had to say about their project:
“Throw a few agency penmen with carte blanche to stir things up. Then add a mad bawa and a few eunuchs into a social message-cinematographic mix and it’s a recipe for a few laughs to take the edge off what could be a patronising, boring script on an otherwise hackneyed subject.
Coming off the back of a 4-year-long collaboration with Ogilvy Mumbai in a multitude of roles from in-house animatics to post-production VFX and CG for several TVCs originating at the Ogilvy think tank, RGBA studios was approached by the Ogilvy, Mumbai team to see if we could direct a spot.
For RGBA, this was an opportunity for our fledgling director, Faramarz, to cut his teeth on a script that was a refreshing twist on your run-of-the-mill social message. With an almost non-existent budget but riding on a strong social message , this is what we put out over 2 weeks of guerilla production and a few pumped engine-room huddles between the guys at Ogilvy and Faramarz.”

Homegrown's Verdict:

Recently, subcontinent-specific social messages packaged with a healthy dose of humour have been doing major rounds of the inter web. Just a few weeks, if not days ago, a video which attacked the hoards of men who urinate publicly while giving them a rather public hosing down of their own had everyone in splits. And while the effort/ humour was commendable, the flak they received was inevitable given the fact that the real issue with public urination lies with lacking government facilities and poor public education so these men are really not to shoulder the blame alone. However, this particular spin on SeatBelt safety does an impeccable job of both delivering a social message impactfully and humorously. Not to mention, showcase our transgender community to the world in a respectful, dynamic way. For all this and more, the creative team behind this deserves every accolade that comes their way