Iconic Ads: India Tourism – Incredible India

The goal was to change the perception of India as a tourist destination. Develop a unique brand identity, position it and then communicate it

In 2002, global tourism was in dire straits because of 9/11 and its repercussions. Growth in India’s tourism had stalled and some other countries like China were doing well.

A determined effort was made to make the tourism department more professional. With a bleak scenario, the ministry had a bold plan

The department brought in career bureaucrat Amitabh Kant and asked him to turn it around. Kant was the mastermind of Kerala’s ‘God’s Own Country’ campaign, which had become a part of marketing folklore for its success.

A simple brief was given to the agencies – Develop India as the leading holiday destination for high-end travellers.

The goal was to change the perception of India as a tourist destination. The tasks were to develop a unique brand identity, position it and then communicate it to the target audience.

O&M won the account in a pitch. The clincher was a simple hand-drawn poster by V Sunil. They played a trick. They put an exclamation mark in the first I in India and said “that when God created India, he made India as an exclamation mark and the dot was Sri Lanka. And of course, when you say Incredible, you can only exclaim.” The word Incredible summed up the various cultures, geographies and captured the variety which India had to offer.

The beauty of the campaign was that the exclamation mark could be many things. It became a reflection of a Taj Mahal minaret plus the moon, a Rajasthani girl with pots, a girl doing yoga, and so on. V Sunil and his team helped make the campaigns memorable.

It has been an incredible journey!

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