India boasts the world’s third largest military force, but despite the numbers questions often crop up over manpower strength apart from factors such as defence expenditure, modernisation of infrastructure or service conditions. No wonder, periodically advertisements have tended to be clarion calls for young men to join the ranks. One can recall the Indian Army ad exhorting the viewer with the poser, “Do you have it in you?”
By comparison, a new ad campaign — comprising a digital film that runs into five minutes and a 30-second version for television — of the Indian Coast Guard gives a subtler prod. The digital film has a voice-over accompanying numerous scenes which give an all-encompassing view of the services rendered by the multi-mission organisation.
The campaign was conceptualised by Grey Group India. Varun Goswami, executive creative director, Grey Group India, says, “The Indian Coast Guard wanted to portray who they actually are, a multi-mission organisation that conducts real-life operations at sea. That, despite being a small force, they have a wide range of task capabilities for both surface and air operations. But they are perceived to be only a subset to the Indian Navy and that’s a perception they wanted to address.”
Goswami says the creative team asked a bunch of 10-year-olds to sketch an army man, an Air Force pilot and a navy officer. The children drew as told. But when asked for a coast guardsman, they came up with a lifesaver or a float.
“The perception people have of the Indian Coast Guard is that of a lifeguard and nothing more, and what we had to do was show people that they were so much more. If only the youth knew how multi-dimensional the Indian Coast Guard really is they might reconsider it as a career.” He argues that the coast guard could be a persuasive option for youths, especially the restless kind for whom the idea of pursuing one interest for the rest of their lives might be hard to reconcile with.
In December 2016, it was reported that 20 per cent of the sanctioned posts in the Indian Coast Guard were vacant. It has a sanctioned strength of 15,714, of which 3,129 are vacant.