In-Depth: Tata Trusts turning ‘Kachrawala’ to ‘Safaiwala’

Tata Trusts Campaign

Tata Trusts Campaign #TwoBinsLifeWins dives into the plight of the most indignified beings of our society – sanitation workers, and Social Samosa presents insights to this eye-opener.

In conversation with Deepshikha Surendran, Head – Brand & Marketing Communications, Tata Trusts, and Keegan Pinto, National Creative Director, FCB Ulka, we go behind the screen of the Tata Trusts Campaign – #TwoBinsLifeWins.

Manual scavenging or manual cleaning of sewer systems has been prohibited under Section 5 of the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013(MS Act 2013)” in all States and Union Territories with effect from 06.12.2013.

Yet, a total of 62,904 manual scavengers have been identified since 06.12.2013 up to 31.01.2020. 376 deaths have been observed in five years to 2019, with 110 in 2019.

With an objective to reduce the manual intervention of the workers with sewage and waste, Tata Trusts initiated Mission Garima in partnership with Tata Group companies and municipality bodies.

The Tata Trusts campaign #TwoBinsLifeWins is a part of this initiative. Parts of the project cater to addressing their healthcare, workplace, environment, acknowledging their plight, and appealing the citizens to be more responsible.

Deepshikha Surendran, Tata Trusts

Deepshikha Surendran, Head – Brand & Marketing Communications, Tata Trusts says, “We always say ‘Arre aaj kachrawala nahi aya’. We don’t even know who the person is, even if he has been working with us for years, and people don’t even call them safaiwala.”

Currently, live on all social media platforms, soon the campaign will be amplified on radio and cinema as well.

Initial Idea

Deepshikha shares the initial idea was gently guided a couple of years ago when Tata Trusts launched a book on the dignity of sanitation workers in association with Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in December 2016.

The book covered the areas of work, living conditions of manual scavengers, and that was the birth of the project Mission Garima.


Keegan Pinto, FCB Ulka

Keegan Pinto, National Creative Director, FCB Ulka shares how it began with a pitch, “Tata Trusts had called for a multi-agency pitch – we won the pitch and the briefing began.

Deepshikha says when they briefed the agency, they mentioned the whole idea is to keep the workers in the focus. “The thought was how do we improve the life of sanitation workers and how can we communicate to really ensure that more citizens are engaged in a way that their lives improved”.

The solution was – two bins, but the intent of the brand and Mr. Tata was to do something for the life of this person who goes down our gutter, into our feces and waste.

Keegan remarks, they were also expected to show him in a light of pride and portray the most indignified job in the world with dignity.

Tata Trusts Campaign

One of the notions that the brand wanted to convey was “You don’t always have to sell a product to be a purpose-driven brand”. The notion stems from the current inclination of several brands towards cause marketing.

Conceptualization & Execution

The storyline was conceptualized from hearing various instances about the sanitation workers’ children getting orphaned and the workers dying early on average. The inceptive idea was written out as a story of a boy who is proud of what his father does and is looking at the camera and saying ‘Don’t have my father die’.

The story was layered with satire where the boy talks about his father running the country, and for the country to run, his father has to go into the gutter.

The script was written in the style of mystery and intrigue. Keegan conveys that creative long-format content has to hoard, irrespective of it being fiction or non-fiction. So there was this line, “Mera baba desh chalata hai” that kept repeating itself and how the country will come to a standstill if he doesn’t go to work.

The idea of a poetic narration and a child being the narrator came up from the creative agency. Surendran says, “The poem was so hard-hitting that we immediately wanted to test it and see if it is getting us where we wanted to go and was bang on, on the brief”.

Keegan mentions that it was just old-school “dumdaar” writing, written with maximum punch and the simple logic of it being narrated by a child was him saying “Can you not have my father die?”

Tata Trusts Campaign

First, the agency locked on the idea; wrote it and presented it to the clients. After the script was written out, Basta Films was brought on board and the client was also comfortable with them, they were given the script and the brief.

The sets were production-designed and there was also a research leg during production. During the casting, they went for real-looking people and no make-up was used.

Tata Trusts Campaign

Music Insights

“We went ahead to bring on Basta after speaking to various production houses,” shares Keegan. He further recollects how the hunger seen in Divyansh (Divyansh Ganjoo, Co-Founder & Director, Basta Films) was very apparent and infectious. “We gave it to them and began the process of selecting the cast, locations and spoke about the style and camera work.”

Music, however, wasn’t discussed in the earlier part of the process shares Keegan. “Music was largely discussed only when the first offline cut was put in place. I’m a musician myself so it was not very difficult for me to understand and to brief my fellow musicians, that we had to keep it authentic and to keep it almost kind of you know Indian classical,” he quips.

Deepshikha narrates an incident where on being asked when the brand can see the first cut, she was presented with pictures of the studio where the musicians were working in the middle for the night.

“I bombed the music a couple of times because I wanted the music to be really authentic and pure, not the typical programmed inorganic western stuff,” Keegan remarks. “We made the music from scratch, with live sitars, sarods, and sarangis.”

Tata Trusts Campaign

Deepshikha adds, “This is where the agency really made a difference and it was their thought and idea for the background score to be outstanding.” The confident emotion of the child is reaffirmed with the music.

Behind The Scenes

Keegan shares a big challenge emerged when the actor playing the father got unwell with ashes because of shooting in the water for a long time. At times, he would come out shivering.

There were also continuity issues wherein the child would rearrange his hair, creating a break in his looks.

“I did his hair up with my own hands, to get it as close as possible to the earlier look for maximum continuity. A lead actor usually knows this but our guy is a child”.

Keegan was all praises for the little “rockstar”. “That kid was so endearing, he knew the whole script by heart. Its a very big thing for a little boy to be so disciplined because this was what they call a ‘child shoot’, and a child shoot can go for a complete toss”.

Tata Trusts Campaign

Deepshikha shares that while testing the animatics and reviewing preliminary versions of the video with consumers, in a couple of groups the respondents actually broke down and pledged to segregate their wastes from the same day. “At that moment we realized that we’re raising something very deep and insightful and that reaffirmed our belief in the campaign”.

Extension of the Campaign

On the day of the campaign launch, Tata Trusts launched a model chowki – a structure equipped with facilities like restrooms, lockers, drinking water, tools, cupboards, and sitting areas, for workers in Kurla ward.

The workers can come and clean up, engage in recreational activities and visit health camps. This part of the strategy concentrates on the health of the sanitation workers, living conditions and more.

Deepshikha also shares, “We will stress more on interacting in a sense of group, we will start reaching out to housing societies and do activations, for people to realize what it means as a community, to start segregating waste”.

They would start looking at areas where segregation of waste is a challenge. Either because citizens are too busy earning their living or where real estate is an issue – such as the narrow gullies where the sweeper truck can’t even pass through to collect the wastes.

Presently, the brand’s focus is Tier 1 cities with Mumbai at the focal point, which is why mass & social media are the preferred platforms.

Educating sanitation workers along with spreading the message among citizens also seems essential to bring about this change. Deepshikha reckons, “There is just no way that this (initiative) will be successful without the sanitation workers themselves making the effort to protect themselves”.

She appends, as part of their model chowki, they would provide sanitation workers with personal protective equipment such as gloves, including masks, etc.

While being congratulated for the campaign Keegan says, “I’ll enjoy the success if you are buying another bin.”