Akanksha, O&M ‘force’ celebs to help for free

MUMBAI: If you are an organisation in desperate need of a service but don’t have the money to put out an advertisement, what do you do? Well, just let the advertising agency do the talking!

That’s what NGO Akanksha did when it could no longer wait for teachers for the underprivileged kids under its care and protection.

Akanksha’s brief to Ogilvy & Mather was clear: “The organisation does not have money for advertising, but it needs to reach out to thousands of people and tell them we need teachers, because when that happens, the teacher applications will go up.”

O&M lost no time in getting onto the job at hand and the result was ‘Message Barter’, a ‘smart yet sweet’ way of getting celebrities to help these children without spending a rupee. “The insight was that you cannot say no to a child, especially when a child does you a favour and asks for one in return. You just can't refuse! So in a way, we actually 'forced' the celebrities to help us,” says O&M associate CD Jigar Fernandes.

“Another very, very important guiding point is that when you meet the kids from Akanksha, they are so intelligent, well spoken, street smart and always up for fun. I can guarantee you that if you do not know of their backgrounds, you would never guess, where they come from. So yes, the idea had to reflect the smartness and cheeky attitude of these cool kids.”

A video was filmed with Hrithik Roshan being ‘forced’ to ask his fans to apply as teachers with Akanksha in return for services rendered by the kids – promoting the actor’s film Krrish 3 outside theatres and on streets. Similarly, Farhan Akhtar and Chetan Bhagat among other celebrities, and social media influencers featured in the video. The video was then mailed to the celebrities. Luckily, the Bollywood brigade jumped into the fray and through their facebook pages and twitter handles, urged people to not only watch the video but also apply for the job of teacher at Akanksha.

Akanksha authorities were rendered speechless when traffic on the NGO’s official website ( increased four-fold and teachers’ applications witnessed a 160 per cent rise.

“We didn't set ourselves any target because this was a very new and unexplored experiment. In the end, it worked,” says Fernandes, proudly. A 10 member team worked on the campaign and took almost a month to execute it. Akanksha too was involved in the process; the NGO’s Chitra Pandit and Nupur Bhargava believed in the idea and were part of it from the scratch itself.

The digital space was chosen as the destination as Akanksha’s target audience is largely urban educated youth which is most likely to be on social networks.

The first-of-its-kind campaign, not only wooed celebs and helped the organisation, but it also won the agency the interactive award by

Click here to watch the video


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