#LostVotes: J Walter Thompson & The Times of India

The idea of the film is to evoke the voice of the lost vote. A voice that amplifies the angst and echoes the emotion of over 20 crore Indians losing their vote.

Readers increasingly look at The Times oIndia to become the voice of the nation and highlight issues that bring about a positive change in their lives. The cause of ‘Lost Votes’ is one such cause that can bring about a change in the lives of crores of Indians.

The 2019 General Elections are on the anvil and TOI took up the challenge to launch a nationwide campaign to generate conversations and make a real difference. Hence the “Lost Votes” Movement. It calls for policy & electoral reforms to bring in the vote of Indian migrant into country’s General Elections.

In today’s India, countless Indians are on the move. For work or education or marriage. And so are our banks accounts which automatically travel with us. And also, our mobile phone numbers and PAN & Aadhaar numbers. Perhaps the only thing that doesn’t is our right to vote. That’s tied to the place where it’s registered in. Tied down by a rule that subtracts crores of Indians from our country’s democratic equation. It’s time to change this. It’s time to turn these lost votes into votes that count. Because they can shape the destiny of our nation.

A simple but powerful and noble idea, Lost Votes has the potential to positively impact our democracy, resonating with TOIs philosophy of “Change Begins Here”.

 The “Lost Votes” campaign hopes to strongly represent the voice of crores of Indians whose votes are lost due to (short term or immediate) migration within the country.

Support the cause to make our vote mobile by pledging on www.lostvotes.com

Commenting on the campaign, Sanjeev Bhargava, Director, TOI Brand said; “We are the largest democracy in the world. But are we the most robust? To strengthen our democracy, it is important that the right to vote and the facility to vote both be made available to the entire voting population.”

“ The idea of the film is to evoke the voice of the lost vote. A voice that amplifies the angst and echoes the emotion of over 20 crore Indians losing their vote. To play the voice of the lost votes on loud speakers and yet feel the voice being drowned by the distance, lost in the middle class multitudes out there. Losing your right to vote is like that fading homing signal. It’s like missing the last train home and losing the hope of making a difference in your hometown from your distant work station. Mera Haq Kahin Pe Kho Gaya.”, said Senthil Kumar, Chief Creative Officer, J. Walter Thompson

“When we started working on the Lost Votes campaign, I knew the film had to be poignant and soul-stirring. It needed to capture that ineffable feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. One who has to deal with the pain of not just losing touch with his roots but also not mattering in the larger scheme of things, because he/she is unable to vote (despite having the right to.) Whether you’re a face in the crowd or the crowd itself, nobody is immune from this pain. The ‘Lost’ poster-frame is meant to be symbolic of this feeling of becoming insignificant.”; added Sambit Mohanty, National Creative Director, J Walter Thompson.

Sambit Mohanty
National Creative Director J Walter Thompson

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work. 
The Lost Votes initiative is our brainchild and was born out of a brief by our client (The Times of India) to do something topical around the upcoming General Elections in India. We conceptualized, presented and executed this campaign end-to-end. 

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about? 
India is a country on the move. So are a large section of Indians. Almost 281 million Indians live or work in a city that’s different from where their homes are. These migrants don’t just leave their homes behind, they also leave their voting right behind. That’s because a voter has to be physically present in the place her/his vote is registered in to be able to cast her/his vote. Our campaign wants to make the Government change the rule and make the vote mobile. So that a citizen can vote no matter where s/he resides in the country.

Tell us about the details of the creative brief, what did it ask? 
The Times of India believes in, and lives true to, its mission statement – Change Begins Here. Further to this, it wanted to ensure maximum participation of citizens in the electoral process...to coincide with the general elections in 2019.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work? 

People who don’t vote are considered to be irresponsible. But often, that’s because the state does not take its responsibility of facilitating the democratic process seriously enough.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development? 
We had to find the right tonality for the campaign. Balancing the various emotions – the sense of loss and frustration on the citizens’ part, yet keeping hope alive – was the greatest challenge.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience? 
The process of calibrating ads to resonate with readers/audiences who speak multiple languages and represent different economic strata was an explorative and enthralling experience. 
We got a great insight into the complex world of the Indian democracy as we came in touch with constitutional experts, politicians and, of course, journalists. 

Where do you see this campaign going in the future? 
With hundreds of thousands of supporters coming on board and the issue grabbing the attention of the political class, our campaign has raised a voice that’s resonating across the country. It's created a whole lot of conversations because this issue has existed but never been highlighted thus. And with a Public Interest Litigation suit being filed by one of India’s foremost lawyers in the Supreme Court, a resolution of the problem doesn’t seem too far. And we’re just 3-4 weeks into the campaign.