Stories with a strong emotional pull are a key theme when discussing powerful and memorable ads with Leroy Alvares, president, digital services, Grey Group India.
Creative work with an ‘agenda’ that moves communities is what really excites Alvares, and a perfect example of this is an Indian government commercial “Mile Sur,” developed to promote national unity and pride.
This clip will not resonate with foreign audiences the same way it does with people from India, but when it was launched on Indian Independence Day in 1988 it caused a sensation. One look at the comments feed below this YouTube video clearly shows the power and longevity of this ad almost 30 years on.
The Government of India: Mile Sur
The literal meaning of Mile Sur is ‘to meet’ and ‘notes’ and can be translated as: “Let your notes meet mine, and together we make a song.”
The song highlights the many diverse linguistic communities and societies that make up India the country. Alvares still remembers the exact sequence of events as it was played out – broadcast straight after the telecast of then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi from the ramparts of New Delhi’s Red Fort.
“I cherish the memories of everyone singing along, irrespective of the different languages played out during the song. It quickly captivated India, and gained and has maintained near-anthem status ever since,” says Alvares.
“Music has no boundaries and this is one such great example,” he adds.
Seven years later, Alvares entered the advertising industry himself, as a trainee with Ogilvy Mumbai. In those early days, one particular ad stood out.
Nedbank: The Leopard
In 1996, South Africa’s Nedbank won plaudits for its “Leopard” commercial.
“I saw this commercial when I was a rookie just starting out in my career and it’s stuck in my head. It remains the inspiration and reference point to my advertising life,” says Alvares.