The making of the 6 Pack Band videos to the Cannes Grand Prix story

MUMBAI: After putting India on the international creative map by winning the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016, the 6 Pack Band is all set to release its much awaited sixth and last music video; this time showcasing Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and the leads from YRF's upcoming blockbuster, Sultan.

In line with the last five videos that featured the likes of Sonu Nigam, Hrithik Roshan and Arjun Kapoor, the band’s latest video also promises a star studded entertainer package that engages its audience in a meaningful conversation about accepting the third gender in our society. 

Put together by Y-Films with Ashish Patil at the helm of the project, the first music video ‘Hum Hain Happy’ showcasing the six transgender band members, sent ripples across the social as well as advertising network for its sheer organic reach and the core idea behind the concept. 

public://6 Pack Band Inset_0.jpg

Several did a double take initially to see FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever’s flagship tea brand, Brooke Bond Red Label as the brand partner --  made possible by its agency Mindshare Fulcrum’s effort. That soon translated into appreciation for the brand when the organic reach numbers rolled out. Winning the coveted Grand Prix for Glass Lions category at Canes Lions 2016 was the cherry on the cake.

Read Mindshare and HUL's reaction after their Cannes Lions win for 6 pack band here:

Contrary to the current pomp and cheer for the initiative, Patil assured that the journey to make the 6 Pack Band a reality wasn’t quite so rosy.

In fact, Patil had made up his mind to execute the idea on his own if he didn’t get support from any brand. “This is something we have been wanting to do for a while. I never pitch an idea unless I am sure I can execute it. It wasn’t a traditional idea and was fairly outrageous, if I may add.”

What he was sure of was it was impossible to do justice to the idea unless Y- Films had the right brand partner that believed in the cause. The timing aligned with Mindshare’s Content Day for HUL, for which Patil received a brief. Patil noticed the idea had a great fit with Brooke Bond Red Label. 

In Patil’s own words, there couldn’t have been a better brand partner than HUL’s flagship tea Brooke Bond Red Label for this project, as it adhered to the idea of ‘making the world a more welcoming place a cup at a time.” 

Much to Patil’s trepidation, the first hearing of the idea threw the officials at HUL off, together with the team at Mindshare Fulcrum. ”Without exaggeration, I created 19 presentations for this project which subsequently was passed through Mindshare, GroupM and HUL, and within HUL at several levels -- be it the media team, the brand team, regional heads or the category heads,” shared Patil.  

Recalling one of the many board meetings Patil attended with HUL following the pitch, he shared the several concerns raised from the brand's’ side. “I remember someone point out that the brand’s association with the content could mislead or misinform the consumer about the product. Brooke Bond Red Label is sold among families in tier II and tier III cities in India. What if it is mistaken for a chai targeted at the transgender community by the consumers there? It may sound odd now, but those are valid concerns that the brand needed to think over before going through with the campaign.”

“But I must give it to Mindshare for backing us up as much as was necessary, to push the idea through not only it through its own system, but also within HUL,” he added.

Ultimately the power of the idea, and Mindshare’s constant support won the brand over. “Not to mention that we had an incredible aide in the form of Shiva Krishnamurthy, the general manager of marketing for the tea segment at HUL. He was convinced of the idea’s power from the beginning. Once he understood how the content aligned with Brooke Bond’s brand statement, he was a pillar of support through and through.”

Patil made it very clear that the intent behind the concept and the chosen topic was never to be provocative to bait eyeballs. “We pitched it like we would pitch any other band. I could have been launching maybe a boy band for that matter. The fact that it happened to be transgender possibly made it more outrageous, but we didn’t shift the focus from them being band members primarily.”

Should more FMCG brands take a leaf from this and keep an open mind for unconventional content or communication that is beyond its comfort zones? “I certainly hope that 6 Pack band’s success translates into brands funding more on ideas which are not traditional or core to the brand's’ communication. Consumers need something different from the same vanilla 30 seconds advertising trope that the industry is used to giving,” said Patil.

Instead of chasing after ratings, revenues, and brand recognition, Patil hoped that this encourages brands to stand by causes and content because ‘it is the right thing to do.’ The recognition and numbers would follow, Patil frankly stated, echoing the sentiments behind the famous one-liner from Aamir Khan’s character from The 3 Idiots. 

“When brands aren’t trying too hard to campaign themselves and actually let the content speak for itself, it has an immense potential for returns both tangible and intangible,” he added in parting.

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