The UPA government plans to take its new publicity campaign, “The Story of India”, to targete audience across towns and cities by going online and hitting movie theatres in the next phase, as it moves aggressively to staunch the Opposition’s criticism ahead of a general election.
Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari told HT on Thursday that, according to his ministry’s feedback, initial public response to the campaign was encouraging.
The New Delhi-based Indian Institute of Mass Communication has been asked to evaluate the impact.
The campaign showcases some of the UPA’s key pro-poor and public delivery schemes, apart from its flagship rural infrastructure programme called Bharat Nirman, with a series of 13 advertorial films and a soundtrack that is playing out on both state-run and private FM radio stations.
The UPA campaign will now be splashed on government websites, with online video and interactive advertising on social media.
Comparisons are now being drawn with the previous BJP-led NDA government’s Rs150 crore-plus India Shining campaign in 2004, which had become a catchphrase for an emerging economy but a disconnect ensured the alliance lost power that year.
Brushing aside the BJP’s charges that the campaign was aimed at distracting public attention, Tewari said: “India Shining failed because it was fluffy. Our endeavour has been to tell the real development story as it happened without gloss.”
The ads address both an aspirational India – from a homegrown robot maker to Delhi’s sprawling Metro rail – and welfare schemes, such as free rural maternity clinics.
Tewari’s ministry will now hold a Youtube competition, asking users to make mobile videos on how their lives had changed during the past nine years.
Targeting the BJP, Tewari said: “They fail to see the mammoth media campaign of the BJP government in Gujarat featuring actor Amitabh Bachchan or the full-page ads of Jayalalitha.”
Tewari said the new campaign had been able to put the development narrative, “pushed to the margin”, back in focus. The minister said the total expenses on the ads were less than 1 % of government expenditure and well within norms. Internationally, such spending was nearly 3%, he said.