Walter summed up Kerala beautifully by calling it ‘God’s Own Country’. A complex product was enveloped by a simple line.
In 1989, Mudra was to present to Kerala Tourism. The branch head was Harshan & the creative director was Walter Mendez. Typically, small campaigns like this did not appeal to Walter, but surprisingly he became interested in this one.
Kerala had done some advertising earlier but with no clear positioning. Just going with the flow advertising.
In a spur of creative genius, Walter summed up Kerala beautifully by calling it ‘God’s Own Country’. A complex product was enveloped by a simple line. However, Walter felt this would work only if the govt invested in this.
Until then, only Kashmir was known as the ‘Paradise on Earth’, and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was ‘Paradise Isle’. New Zealand also called itself ‘God’s Own Country’ albeit feebly.
For the sake of the presentation, Mudra had about 6 positioning platforms – Where the Season Never Ends, Paradise untouched…etc. But, they strongly recommended Walter’s line even though it was open to interpretations. They were worried that the tourism minister P S Srinivasan was a communist, hence may not accept religious connotations. Mudra was worried that he may react to the word ‘ God’. However, the astute minister backed the line/ campaign. Coincidentally the Tourism Secretary was the enterprising Amitabh Kant.
The campaign worked because a) It presented Kerala in its pure form that was largely untouched by modernity b) visually appealing c) The government backed it with huge spends targeting trade & end customers across the world.
It was a 360 degree integrated marketing campaign. All communication material was made available in 15-16 languages. Participation in major international trade fairs was done.
Today, this is one of the longest, sustained campaigns in the world. Walter, a Goan from Calcutta, passed away but not before he had seen the success of the campaign.
This universality “the opening of God’s treasure to everyone” is what truly works for the campaign. Every advertisement reflects this generosity of spirit, and it continues to do so.
The elegance and pace of “God’s own country” have remained relevant and attractive to today’s harried traveller’s thanks to clever headlines complemented by beautiful pictures.
Stark, cofounded by Harshan, creates the advertising now