Times of India ‘Lead India’

India - Starting with front-page press ad, this multi award-winning campaign went on to stir a nation-wide movement, re-engaging citizens to actively shape democracy in the 2009 General Election.


After 60 years of independence, indifference in the political process had become rife. National newspaper, Times of India (TOI), sought to inspire the disenchanted middle-class youth through an integrated campaign that not only educated citizens about their rights, but made them feel capable of shaping India’s democratic future. And it all started with a single front page press ad.

Campaign execution

The campaign had to act as a catalyst to get indifferent youths participating in India’s political life. This would be achieved by getting the people to choose a political leader from among them to run in the 2009 General Elections.

TOI launched a long-running integrated campaign, involving press, TVCs, outdoor, online, mobile, and a reality television show, which worked over three phases.

The first step of the campaign was to generate awareness across a wide population base that included eight of India’s major cities. India Poised commenced January, 2007 with a series of press ads and TVCs. The thought-provoking advertisements highlighted India’s present situation, educating younger voters of social and political inadequacies and to challenge them to become proactively involved in shaping India’s future.

Lead India, the second phase of the campaign comprising of strong Call to Action, rolled out on Independence Day, August 2007. Another wave of press ads titled ‘Do’ asked people what they would accomplish if they were the leaders of the country. Those who wanted the opportunity to represent the people by becoming national leaders were asked to complete an online application form.

Sixty-four candidates were short-listed, put through a laborious selection process until eight finalists were chosen. This led to the final phase of the campaign; a 10 week reality TV show where the public assessed the final candidates so they could unite behind a winner.

Celebrities aligned themselves to the campaign, garnishing wider popular interest and appeal for the cause. Campaign momentum was also generated through strong social buzz in the form of social networking, YouTube and blogging.


  • The Lead India campaign received over 37,000 entries from people willing to change the nation.
  •  TVCs uploaded on YouTube received more than 874,000 views
  • The campaign generated  over 50,000 column centimetres of editorial write-ups and massive TV coverage as well as 138,000 online commentary / reportage and research results
  • The campaign won plenty of awards including the multiple Cannes Lions and the Grand Prix, an INMA award for the world’s best newspaper marketing campaign, an ABBY Award for the Best Integrated Campaign, and the ‘Best of Show’ award for community service.
  • Craig Davis, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of JWT said, “This campaign is a testament to the ongoing power of print media, as both a branding medium and a catalyst for social change.”

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