Brand Saga: Brand Bachchan curing India of evil diseases for decades…

Brand Amitabh Bachchan

From Polio to Hepatitis to now COVID-19, this man has ways of reaching people for he is a brand in himself. Brand Saga this week takes a look at Brand Amitabh Bachchan for health.

While practicing self-isolation like others, Instagram has been a rescue, and scrolling through I stumbled upon this beautiful poem by Amitabh Bachchan on Coronavirus. The actor narrated the poem in Awadhi language and spoke about misinformation & trust.

The veteran star has also joined hands with WHO and The Ministry of Health to release videos making people aware of COVID-19, urging them to practice social distancing. Brand Amitabh Bachchan is thriving.

This triggered my brain cells to think about one social cause campaign the septuagenarian has not been part of. And they were almost equal to null. Just last week we traced the journey of the Pulse polio campaign in India where Big B played a major part. From Polio to Hepatitis to now COVID-19 – this man has ways of reaching people for he is a brand in himself. Brand Saga this week takes a look at Brand Amitabh Bachchan for health.

Pulse Polio

2002 witnessed a massive outbreak of Polio in India. The challenge faced by The Ministry of Health and UNICEF officials was to persuade rural mothers to open up to vaccination camps and help their kids become immune. As a means to combat the same and appeal to a wider population, Amitabh Bachchan was roped in as the brand ambassador for the Polio Eradication Campaign in 2002.

Ogilvy’s Piyush Pandey shared that senior Bachchan portrayed the role of an Angry Young Man well & should replicate that for the campaign. That’s when the TV sets echoed the baritone voice scolding people for not paying heed to their child’s health. The impact was such that hundreds of women thronged to the polio booths with their kids for making their future safe with ‘Do Boondh Zindagi Ke’, with many citing the reason for their arrival as Sr Bachchan angry with them.

Also Read: Brand Saga: When ‘Do Boond’ helped make India Polio free

During a press conference in 2011 Bachchan had stated, “The world is watching and taking lessons from our effort. Let us together continue to work to make polio history in India”.

During a press conference in 2011 Bachchan had stated, “The world is watching and taking lessons from our effort. Let us together continue to work to make polio history in India”.

Eradication efforts coupled with effective use of mass media for ‘Pulse Polio’ was met with measurable success. India recorded just 66 cases in 2005, down from 135 cases reported in 2004, 225 in 2003, and 1,600 in 2002. The call-to-action with ‘Do boond zindagi ke’ helped in making India polio-free by February 2014 while being officially declared as a ‘Polio free’ nation.

UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador

Although Bachchan has been associated with UNICEF since 2002 to help eradicate polio, he was brought on board as the goodwill ambassador only in 2005. He raised his voice for the organizations’ efforts to create awareness about sexual violence against children and the threat of AIDS against them through the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign.

In 2014, he was seen promoting the TeachAIDS software, an international HIV/AIDS prevention education tool developed at Stanford University.

In the same year, he was appointed as the UN Ambassador for Girl Child and leveraged social media to root for the education of girls. The doting and proud father of a daughter himself, Bachchan on several occasions spread the word about daughters being special.

Climate Change Activist

In 2007, the International Indian Film Academy and Global Cool brought together Hollywood star Sienna Miller and Bollywood’s ‘Shahenshah’ to raise awareness in India about global warming, Taking part in the Global Cool campaign, he encouraged people to make lifestyle changes that bring down greenhouse gas emissions.

The campaign also saw the participation of international icons like Leonardo Di Caprio and Orlando Bloom.

The year 2008 saw Bachchan showing his support for the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign by planting a tree at the UN’s Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Bangkok. Along with a focus on tree planting and deforestation, the campaign also highlights the importance of voluntary collective action to address issues such as climate change, ozone layer protection and the Montreal Protocol, air quality and integrated water management, among others.

At the campaign launch, Big B was quoted saying, All of us can play a role in helping our planet and doing our part for the earth, and, often, this involves simple actions that each of us can take.

In support of Earth Hour 2016, he took to Twitter to urge his followers to participate in the global initiative and shared his views about climate change and its adverse effects.

PETA-  Sundar Elephant

An active animal rights supporter, Big B joined hands with PETA in 2013 to drive its campaign to free a 14-year-old elephant, Sunder, who was chained up and tormented in a temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. Bachchan along with many other celebrities raised his voice against cruelty towards the animal and ensured Sunder’s safe return. And the efforts were paid off.

In 2010, the superstar had collaborated with Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) to release a Public Service Announcement protecting elephants where he asked people how many measures are taken to care for these magical creatures. The campaign again saw him in a stern avatar.

UNICEF Hepatitis B

After his successful stint as UNICEF’s goodwill brand ambassador of pulse polio campaign and supporting the Girl Child in India, Bachchan was appointed as the brand ambassador for Union Government’s campaign against Hepatitis B in March 2015. The campaign was a part of the Union Government’s child immunization program named Mission Indradhanush, against seven vaccine-preventable diseases.

The star himself was diagnosed with Hepatitis and at the launch of the National Action Plan.

Save Our Tigers

The Save Our Tigers campaign was born out of a partnership between WCT, NDTV, Aircel and Sanctuary Asia. The Bollywood icon announced that he will lend his face and voice to save the majestic tiger from becoming extinct. Various PSAs featuring Chief Ministers of states and celebrities Amitabh Bachchan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared on television to voice their support for the campaign.

“As artistes, our faces are used to endorse products that attract consumers and if they can be converted into a national cause then I will be the extremely gratified,” commented Bachchan.

In 2015, he was also appointed as the state ambassador for the ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign and promote tiger tourism. 

Family Planning

Identifying the importance of family planning as a key strategy to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity, the Union Ministry of Health and Welfare and National Rural Health Mission kickstarted an initiative to spread awareness around the topic by roping in Big B in 2016. In the advertisements, he can be seen talking about family planning and birth control for the woman and that it burdens her when numerous children are born.

The campaign also saw Nirodh and Mala D getting a makeover from packaging to branding. The government realised that it was now the time to relaunch condoms and birth control pills. Flavored condoms and other value-added contraceptives for both men and women were launched.

TB-Free India

“If this disease can happen to me, it can happen to anyone”, stated Bachchan during a Government Meetup ‘Call to Action for a Tuberculosis free India,’ set up in 2015. Bachchan was diagnosed with TB in the year 2000.

In 2016, the government partnered with DDB Mudra North for creating a campaign that would galvanize the nation towards the mission of ending TB.  #IndiavsTB,’ and Big B called out the nation to unite against Tuberculosis. The objective of the campaign is to build momentum around the mission of making India TB Free & who better than a TB survivor to communicate this?

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Amitabh Bachchan has been an activist for the Clean India movement with  Dettol-NDTV Banega ‘Swachh India’ campaign since it was first conceived, in September 2014. Looking at his determination towards the environment, he was approached by the Modi led government to be the face of the ;Banega Swasth India campaign’ and be a part of the PM’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.  

Thus was launched the Darwaza Band by the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) for the sustainability of the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of villages across the country.

In India, open defecation is a well-established traditional practice deeply ingrained from early childhood. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India, wanted to develop a communication that would help bring about this change. The government then roped in Ogilvy to conceptualize the message of ‘saying no to open defecation’.

Commenting on the creative thought process, Ogilvy’s Piyush Pandeyhad had said, “The communication would have to break habits and would need to be endearing and assertive without being preachy. We have worked with Mr. Bachchan on many communication campaigns and he himself is associated with the government of India across various issues”.

‘Bachchanji’ became the influencer and ‘Bachchaji’ the young agent of change. This helped disseminate information through a lively, cheeky conversation.

The 3 TVCs tackled each of the barriers – to promote the need for a toilet, usage by all and trigger behavior change by instilling pride.

Thereafter a City Compost campaign was also rolled out and various other initiatives saw the light of the day under the mission.

Mission Paani

In August 2019, Harpic-News18 Mission Paani (a movement against acute water shortage) was launched which served as a window to India’s ongoing and worsening water crisis where BIG B joined the cause as the campaign ambassador.

Mission Paani aimed to change habits in India to save and conserve water, by creating awareness on how to bring about that change.

COVID-19

And yet again, the government thought of no one better than the 77-year-old actor to spread awareness about novel coronavirus or COVID-19. In a video by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bachchan is seen telling people about the basics of fighting the deadly virus.

He ended the video giving a tagline, ‘Darwaza Bandh toh Beemari Bandh!’

On the sidelines, he also urged people to launch a mass campaign against coronavirus as they did for Swachh Bharat Mission and Polio Mission.

With 29 Mn Facebook followers, 40.7 mn on Twitter and 14.6 million Instagram, Big B made sure that the message reached his followers at the right time.

From donating money to the farmers and Martyrs’ families to supporting a ban on plastic to walking the talk for Eyecare campaigns – name it and this man has done it. Trust us when we say this, no other actor has been the face of so many government campaigns and social causes.

It’s his command over the language and his relatable persona that helps his message go vibrating in everyone’s ears for long. The angry young man’s image helps further. Any social campaigning by the government (and brands) calls for his presence. His massive following is proof that his instructions get implemented- kyuki Amitji Gussa ho jayenge!


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