101 New Heroes

Between 3rd and 14th October 2010, India has seen birth of 101 new heroes. These heroes are ordinary Indians like you and me, who through their talent, determination, grit, hard work and dedication have made the country proud. Each one of these 101 new heroes is a symbol of the new resurgent India that the world is watching with awe.
One of the ways of defining the richness of any culture is the number of heroes that they have. Heroes infuse new thoughts, show an alternate path, shape new rituals, and become role models. They are leaders in their own right, they are epitome of excellence. For a long period of time we have had just a handful of the role models. Cricket has contributed a few, and movies have contributed a few more, and the world of business too has had its share. Unfortunately we have had just a handful of icons. More so the world of advertising and marketing has always felt this lacuna where icons from popular culture help in creating engaging messages. It has always fallen short of the role models and has ended up choosing either cricketers or glamour stars from world of movies. Once in a while there have been odd beauty queens or glamorous tennis players.
Clearly the new heroes have caught the nations fancy. People came out in large numbers cheering for them. They braved many negatives and inconvenience to come out and connect with their new found idols. The cheering and the celebration every time they won indicated that there is public following for them. For once India stepped out of their homes to cheer for players who are not cricketers, and also who are not hockey players. Shooters, wrestlers, squash players, athletes, boxers all were adopted willingly.
For once we have a host of icons that can be leveraged to push a new agenda for the society. These are icons that will have far greater credibility, power to engage and power to craft opinions. One of the biggest issue that any brand faces is the credibility of the icon it wants to use and more often than not the communication fails to work due to poor fit of celebrities.
So what are the new possibilities? Here are a few
Haryana has redefined success in sports, and not just men, women have been leading the charge. How about the state of Haryana launching a campaign to promote gender equality, adopting the girl child with open arms and giving the infamous Khap Panchayats a new agenda to follow. Who can say it better than the winning grapplers and runners from Haryana?
The anti smoking lobby can do with a host of heroes who can motivate the impressionable young minds to kick the butt and kick some ball. Kicking the ball is in reality far cooler than lighting up.
Strength is a big dimension for many brands. There are a very few icons that represent strength in a real meaningful way. We have icons now that represent strength in the best possible way. Who can better personify strength than the boxers and wrestlers who have nerves of steel?
Commitment is another huge dimension that the brands strive to build. There are a host of heroes who represent commitment in ample measure. The relay runners, the discus throwers, the gymnasts and even the swimmers are great examples of heroes who are symbols of commitment
There are many more dimensions that the 101 new icons collectively can open up. Team work, pride, passion, nimbleness, triumph over adversity, unconventional path to success and above all a never say dies spirit.
By learning from and working with the new icons the world of advertising and marketing should start a completely new conversation. Conversation that is more real does not have cynicism and drives new behaviour.
The 101 new icons have opened up possibilities of shaping a new India. Let’s not lose the advantage. And let’s also build on their success to create a new culture of success.
Published at http://www.mediaworldbuzz.com

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