Maharashtra had a variety. There was a ‘limitless vastness’ which the state offered.
Agra, Jaipur and Delhi were the most popular locations in India for international travelers, followed by Goa and Kerala. People became aware of Kerala (God’s Own Country) because of the power of communication, and the rest was due to time and history.
Maharashtra was known as a commercial and financial powerhouse in part because of Bombay (as it was called then).
It was decided to treat Maharashtra as a brand and build awareness for the state and what it offered.
Ogilvy was doing some sporadic work for the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) then.
As Sumanto Chattopadhyay, the creative head of Ogilvy, reminisces:
“It all started with a poster.
“My colleague V. Ganapathy said to me one day that he knew someone at MTDC. They had given him the opportunity to present a poster idea for Tarkarli beach. MTDC had provided a photograph of the pristine beach.
Seeing the picture a line came to mind: ‘Waves. Not of people.’
My art partner Sameer Desai designed the poster and we went with Ganapathy to present it.
They liked it.
And this led to the main campaign and campaigns thereafter.”
The objectives of the brand-building plan were twofold: establish a long-term brand recall in the minds of global travelers and travel businesses, and use that to generate money through constant tourist traffic.
Maharashtra was/is a geographically large state with a diverse cultural landscape and a history of heterogeneity. There was no single characteristic that could convey the state’s lively ethos as a brand. The state was brimming with variety.
There was a ‘limitless vastness’ which the state offered. And as Sumanto remembers, “That’s when we created the Maharashtra Unlimited slogan for them. And thus began a fruitful period stretching over a few years when we produced a number of campaigns for them.
Ashish Kumar Singh, the wonderful gentleman who was our client there, truly appreciated our creative work—which made the experience a pleasant one indeed, making us want to put in our best. The budgets were never big, but we did not let that come in the way.
“A number of people in my team worked with me on the campaigns: Zenobia Pithawalla, Sukesh Nayak, Heeral Desai, Sujoy Roy and Goral Ajmera, to name a few. We won domestic and international awards on the work. Some of it appeared in Archive and other repositories of creative advertising. We got requests from companies wanting to produce art quality prints of some of the posters—especially the ones we made for Deccan Odyssey, the Palace on Wheels equivalent of Maharashtra that we helped MTDC launch.”
Sumanto has regrets though. “Sadly, I do not have a copy of that first poster. Some other lovely pieces of work have also disappeared.”