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The face of polls ’09

Little known Mumbai stage actor Anand Tiwari has become the poster boy for this year’s elections Damini Purkayastha.

entertainment Updated: Mar 05, 2009 17:39 IST

He is the most popular non-Bollywood face on TV at the moment. Meet 26-year-old Anand Tiwari aka Raj of the hugely successful ‘Jaago Re, 1 Billion Votes for India’ advert.

Tiwari, a Mumbaikar, is a mass communication graduate and a theatreperson who has dipped his toe into Bollywood waters: he is now working on a film with Hrithik Roshan, directed by Anurag Basu. Tiwari says he is known as the ‘Jaago re guy’ everywhere.

Mr Jaago re, interestingly, has been a ‘stree (woman)’ on his voter’s ID card since he registered. “I have been applying and applying for the change. Hopefully, this time, it will come through,” he says. The ad happened through an audition. “Ads now take on theatre artists, which is why an ugly guy like me got a chance,” he laughs. “They probably wanted a boy next door everyone could identify with.”

He stresses that he is not the creator, but just the face of the campaign, which has been done by Tata Tea. Tiwari says he is a lot like Raj. “I played a lot of pranks as a college student, none as constructive, but that whole mischievous nature of the campaign is exactly me.” Being Raj has not done wonders for his social life. “I don’t attract girls any more now than I did before!” That’s okay, because he is in a committed relationship. He says, “In official forms, the option is either ‘single’ or ‘married’. There should be an option for ‘committed’.” He gets teased about his fame. “A relative asked me if I get free tea.” Friends registering to vote also direct queries to him. “Thankfully, I’ve done my homework.”

Conscience sells
Four lakh registrations and 80 per cent brand recall for Tata Tea’s Jaago re campaign. Opinion voiced by 2,64,472 people on Idea’s ‘For the people, by the people’ poll site. After the terror attacks in Mumbai, India wants change everywhere, including, it seems, advertising.

Unreal people, flashy lifestyles in ads have given way to social responsibility — and the figures prove that this works. A recent ‘Good Purpose’ study by the multinational public relations firm Edelman shows that 90 per cent of Indians prefer to buy socially responsible brands.

Sharat Potharaju, head of communications, Jaago Re, says, “The response is staggering. About 60-80 per cent of the youth know about the campaign, and the brand.” Ad man Prasoon Joshi says this phenomenon captures “the mood of the Indian youth”. Ad man Prahlad Kakkar agrees and hopes the trend will make Indian ads “harbringers of change”. Some consumers are wary, however. Seetha (24) feels they are publicity gimmicks, and Nupur (25) feels they manipulate public sentiments for commerce.