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IAA Green Awards: Maneka Gandhi urges advertising industry to exercise caution

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MUMBAI: The advertising industry was at the receiving end at the International Advertising Association’s  (IAA’s) Olive Crown Awards – Asia’s only awards for green initiatives in advertising which were held in Mumbai’s Palladium Hotel over the weekend.  Environmentalist and parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi was felicitated with a special award for her years of diligent efforts to get the environment in the nation’s mainstream consciousness and getting regulations passed which saw animals and the coastal zone get protection. She received the recognition from Amitabh Bachchan.

Even as she thanked the advertising  industry for bestowing the honor on her, she urged the creative community to be careful while using animals in the communications and commercials that it creates.

She referred to ads in which a pug was used, something which she has highlighted in the past too.  “The problem with the ad was that it sparked off a demand for the pug which is not a local animal. Thousands of them were imported and the Indian climate does not suit them. Then these pugs find it very difficult to deliver; most of their stomachs burst during delivery.  Owners who could not handle these little cute creatures just abandoned them. And we had hundreds of them turning up at our animal shelters.”

Gandhi then spoke about a TV commercial which featured an orangutan stealing underwear and amusing an Indian housewife. “We noticed that more and more orangutans were being smuggled after that TV commercial was aired,” she said. “We captured three of them headed for Chennai and have been on alert since then. A business man there had got fascinated by the orangutans and had ordered them.”

She told the creative heads and senior marketers present at the awards ceremony at the Palladium Hotel in central Mumbai that they should work on communicating the right environmental messages whenever they can as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.  And that they should exercise extreme sensitivity while drawing up creative for ads as the content of commercials has a tremendous impact on the general Indian viewing public at home.  And in the process it can impact the environment or animals.

The IAA presented Olive Crown Awards to McCann Erickson as the green agency of the year and to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) as the green advertiser of the year for the clean up campaign the two created for Bengaluru.

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