Bridging the Gulf on Raksha Bandhan

25 Aug,2021



By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaYou can’t really go wrong with Raksha Bandhan communication. And the space is wide open for some solid thought-provoking brand associated work. However, it is not so easy and straightforward. It is a touchy subject. There are always chances of a buzz on social media turning against the brand. Meanwhile, brands need to be edgy and test the boundaries- work on emotionally polarised communication to break the clutter and create the impact. There is that need to love-me-or-hate-me-but-don’t-be-neutral-to-me feeling.


As I keep another series of blogs under #IgnorantHindu where I share information on rituals, stories and mythology related to Hindu festivals, I often find people raising the red flag on new advertisements with me. I remind them that I have nothing to do with the communication. I am just an industry representative. And I also ask them why they never give me credit and congratulate me when the industry does a fabulous job on any brand or service. We will keep this debate for some other day. Just like, having no clue as to why so many people are searching details about Atma Shradh.


I was not surprised when one not-so-radicalised Hindu with decently progressive thinking pointed out the Gulf Superfleet SurakshaBandhan advertisement. The objection came from the highly antagonising, irritating attitude of the sister towards the brother. He is trying to make everything to make their lives happy. But he is a truck driver, and the sister has an issue with it. She does not even want her friends in that small town to know her brother’s profession. Until she realises it is her driver brother and the community of truck drivers who have done the incredible work of keeping supply lines open. They have ensured that everyone else could do their work during the covid times. The penny drops, and everything changes with the perspective- and the brand establishes the analogy of trust, faith, and performance.



I am not sure if there is a gulf in the understanding of the sister-brother relationship. Or if there is a gulf is in the limited set of the audience receiving the message. Exaggeration is part of advertising. Stretching already polarised emotion is an act that comes with pitfalls. But there was no moment in the SMEAR rating.


What surprised me is that more males in the group had something to say about the Gulf Super fleet ad; the women were silent. When the male POV was shared, pointed out, they smiled and said there is nothing wrong.


The gap between expectation and experience is a reality. Everything cannot always be idealistic. The story needs a hero and a villain; sometimes, the villain is a woman, which is perfectly okay.


And they then pointed out the mushy, sweet and salty  all is okay Amazon ad. Telling me, it was also a rarity. Such cooking accidents don’t happen. And they don’t make such brothers anymore. So, if you are willing to accept a completely holier than thou rare event as a storyline, what’s wrong with the sister with an attitude, ego and insecurities.



And getting back to Gulf Oil, it seems to be working this Suraksha Bandhan nicely. In 2019, its commercial spoke of a bond between the driver and his sister. The driver was laminating that he could never be home during Raksha Bandhan. And this time, the sister met the driver at the dhaba during his transit. Rarity. But somewhere, the brand worked around the Rakhi thread extending beyond hundreds of miles! Pioneering the  #SurakshaBandhan initiative for truck drivers, fostering sibling bonds with over 20,691 Postcards countrywide! And there is a complete brand fit. Something that sounded forced earlier becomes the strength of consistency and authenticity.


Here watch another gulf oil ad on Raksha Bandhan. Love the way the brand has been working focussed with the trucker’s life and their stories. Maybe they have found a brand  purpose.



So, how unique is the subject- the relationship, the emotions and the expectations? This is a unique property that Gulf Oil has identified. They have been mining it for a long time and hopefully will keep doing so with more passion. Does your relationship with your sister resemble any sister-brother relationship in these Raksha Bandhan stories?


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