India is a country of many wonders, as well a country of many ills — patriarchy being one of the most strongly rooted. Indian women are often left out of the biggest events, considered “Paraya Dhan” (someone else’s asset). Because of this, families are expected to mark their most momentous occasions of their lives without their female members.
In India’s spiritual realm, the country has more than 33 million deities — almost all of them male. Durga Puja in Kolkata is the only large festival celebrating the female goddess. This event is also a celebration of the homecoming of the daughter Durga from her husband’s home, an aspect of the celebration that is often overlooked or forgotten.
The Times of India (TOI) decided to mark this year’s Durga Puja by doing what it does best — creating change. The newspaper raised a call to the daughters of Kolkata to come back and celebrate Durga Puja in their homes, speaking on behalf of their families and friends who had marked too many incomplete festivals without them.
Beginning a month before Durga Puja, TOI began an awareness campaign to bring the daughters of Kolkata home with the heartwarming call, “Ma Aaschen. Tumi Kothaye?” (Durga Ma is coming home. Where are you?).
Bringing the daughters home
During the entire pre-Puja period, TOI featured editorial letters from the residents of Kolkata, asking their daughters settled in other parts of the world to come back. Print advertising depicted a human version of the deity resembling regular girls coming home in normal means of transport, but with Ma Durga’s 10 arms forming behind her. Print ads were released across the country to ignite the sentiment of homecoming amongst daughters living elsewhere.
In just 10 days, TOI was flooded with 8,000 letters to beloved daughters, sisters, and friends, asking them to come home. The power of the response was such that TOI brought five women back to Kolkata from different parts of the country, carrying their stories of homecoming in the newspaper. Some of them celebrated Durga Puja with their families for the first time in 10 years.
The zenith of the campaign’s marketing was an emotional digital film aimed at capturing the void in every household of Kolkata in which daughters are living away from home. The film depicted three women, portrayed by eminent celebrities of Kolkata, conveying true stories.
The film reached a remarkable audience of 15.6 million people and received around 5.4 million views within one week. The majority of this reach was achieved through organic shares, engaging around 727,000 people and garnering more than 40,000 reactions across 40 countries.
A powerful response
Instagram was flooded with Puja throwback pictures of friends, brothers, and fathers. Hundreds of women wrote to TOI promising that this time, there would be no more excuses to not go back home for Durga Puja. Celebrities reposted the video, and social media resounded with personal stories and the by then-famous call, “Maa Aaschen. Tumi Kothaye?”
TOI successfully achieved its goal and saw a 31% increase in brand affinity and helped increase its brand equity score by 77%. The campaign recall was the strongest and highest ever, with a 45% recall. More than 60 noted publications outside the Times Network picked up and replayed the campaign story.
Moreover, women readership of TOI saw an astounding jump of 22%, according to IRS 2019 Q3. This campaign has helped create brand awareness particularly amongst housewives, who represented the lion’s share of print readership.
This is how the Times of India gave Kolkata’s daughters their due place back at home and added a new conversation to the greatest festival in India: Durga Puja.