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BW Businessworld

Happiness Quotient

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The hunter becomes the hunted. Adman Piyush Pandey, known for his anti-smoking campaign and a film on the Bhopal gas tragedy, finds himself at the receiving end of a controversy. At the epicentre is a corporate film, ‘Creating Happiness', that his agency, Ogilvy, made for Vedanta, the natural resources major that stands accused of human rights violations in tribal areas.

The ad, which features a young girl from Rajasthan who has benefited from Vedanta's community initiatives, is believed to be the brainchild of Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal's daughter Priya Agarwal, who works at Ogilvy. The ad would have escaped activists' radar, but for a competition that Vedanta ran alongside the 90-second ad, inviting young film makers to make films on the company's social initiatives. Two of the three jury members of the competition — actor-activist Gul Panag and veteran film maker Shyam Benegal — have resigned, claiming that they were unaware of Vedanta's association with the campaign. And Pandey, the third jury member, has become the target of online activists, who posted ‘spoof' ads on Facebook, showing Pandey with the caption "I'm faking happiness, are you?" Online activists sent appeals to I&B minister Ambika Soni to prevent the ad from being aired. And a counter competition inviting young film makers to create ‘faking happiness' ads has been launched. "We are mixing issues that neither me nor the activists are qualified to make a judgement on," is what Pandey, executive chairman, Ogilvy has to say on the debate.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 12-03-2012)