United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UNIFEM South Asia Office

‘Bell bajao’ campaign PSA wins award at Cannes

A still from a PSA developed as part of the Bell Bajao campaign against domestic violence in India

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NEW DELHI/CANNES: An audio-visual public service advertisement (PSA) that is part of the UNIFEM campaign against domestic violence has won a coveted award in the Film Lions category of the Cannes Advertising Festival. The Bell Bajao Campaign being implemented by Breakthrough Trust, has been supported by the UN Trust Fund as part of efforts to end violence against women (EVAW) and managed by UNIFEM. The campaign has received a tremendous response, with many people from across the country reporting how they took a stand to bring domestic violence to a halt. 

The award-winning PSA, titled The Bus Driver, is based on a real-life incident involving a bus driver who refused to play a passive role as a woman was being beaten up by her husband/partner in Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The PSA has been conceptualized by the advertising firm Ogilvy and Mather for Breakthrough Trust. 

The 30-second PSA tells an evocative story. It starts with two men (one of whom is a bus driver) enjoying a moment of leisure as they play carom in a small flat in a crowded urban setting. They hear the shouting of a man, which is followed by the screaming of a woman. It is clear that a woman is being beaten up by her husband/partner. The bus driver gets up, walks to the neighbouring flat and rings the bell. There is an immediate cessation of cries and shouting. A stupefied man peeps out of the door. The bus driver says, “I have no electricity at home. I wanted to check if you do.” He then rings the bell many times to make it explicitly clear that his purpose was to interrupt an act of domestic violence as the husband looks somewhat ashamed. 

Congratulating Breakthrough and Ogilvy and Mather, UNIFEM South Asia Regional Programme Director Anne Stenhammer said, “With this award, it is clear that domestic violence remains an urgent issue and belongs on the centrestage. The Bell Bajao campaign has put the spotlight firmly on the issue of domestic violence and the role of boys and men in preventing it” she said. 

Breakthrough’s Mallika Dutt said she was “absolutely thrilled”. Our new round of Bell Bajao ads are starting out with THE most prestigious award in the advertising Industry - and that too at the global level,” she said.

The Bell Bajao advertisements were made in August 2008 and were an instant success. The main protagonists in these PSAs are boys and men. These PSA’s are an effort to engage boys and men to play a proactive role in preventing domestic violence with the underlying message that domestic violence is no longer a private affair.

Click here to view the film on the Cannes film festival website