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Thomas Cook India’s new ad films urge people to stop stereotyping North-East

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-04-2017 Saumya Tewari

New Delhi: Travel and holiday company Thomas Cook (India) Ltd’s latest commercial about the North-East is not the usual collage of breathtaking spots and mouth-watering cuisines. The two ad films that are part of the commercial instead choose to highlight the stereotypes attached to the state and its people.

Conceptualized by advertising agency Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi India, the films, with its bold theme and offbeat execution, feature two locals (a girl and a boy ) sitting in a lush green forest. Each film opens with the upside down shot of the protagonist with a voiceover which highlights the common stereotypes associated with people from the North-East, including calling them chinks or Nepali, accusing them of eating dogs or labelling them separatists who hate India. Both the films end with the message “Come and find out who we really are”.

“Our consumer research revealed that there is a stigma and misconception around North-Eastern states among most people across the country. People think that the place is not safe, is difficult to access and their food habits are totally different. We wanted to address these issues through this campaign,” said Abraham Adapt, president and group head – marketing, service quality, financial services and innovation, Thomas Cook India.

The travel company has divided the North-East region into two categories. The first includes popular tourist destinations like Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh where they offer 25 products. The second category offers unexplored spots like Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura where it has 35 products. The travel packages range from Rs10,000 per person to Rs70,000 depending on the length of the stay, destination and places to visit.

“Between 2015-16 and 2016-17, we have seen 100% growth in packages booking for North-East and we want to further push this growth through the month-long campaign creating awareness and interest,” said Alapatt.

Thomas Cook’s big focus is on adventure-loving travellers who have keen interest in wildlife, meeting new people and photography.

“Apart from promoting the travel packages to North-East, our objective is also to resonate with the millennial who are largely young and on-digital to build further affinity for the brand,” said Rahul Nangia, who has directed the films and is joint national creative director, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi.

The campaign is being promoted across television, radio, theatre and digital along with the social media.

Jitender Dabas, chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup India, said the campaign is struggling to fit two different narratives in one campaign. “Instead of telling the viewer what is right about the state and its people the campaign seems to be telling the viewer what is wrong about them and asking them to correct it. To me, that is a valid narrative to have if your goal is to spread awareness about the North-East not when you are hard selling tourism packages at the end of the ad,” he said.

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