Amid the coronavirus curfew, Punjab Police is owning the social media space like never before. Ghar Raho, Surakhit Raho (Stay Home, Stay Safe) and ‘Fake News Di Khair Nahi’ (Fake News Won’t Be Spared) are two of its successful campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
And this time to warn curfew violators and those spreading fake news, the police have a professional digital social marketing agency — Surat-based DesignBoxed Creatives — working for it pro bono.
The agency has also made the Punjab Police debut on popular Chinese-video platform, TikTok, and another platform ShareChat to click with the youths, and it has managed to garner millions of views on both within days.
The content being put online is already attracting a lot of viewers. In an animated video ‘Deepu Di Biryani’ on all digital platforms by the police, the animated protagonist is seen telling people how to cook biryani seeing recipes on YouTube and become a biryani expert while staying at home.
In another creative, Punjab Police shares the “easiest” way to go jail: “Jail jaun da sab ton saukha tareeka? Fake News Share karo ! #FakeNewsDiKhairNahi”
Another one warns: “What is worse than a pandemic? Spreading fake news about the pandemic ! Dovaan ton bachna zaroori hai!”
The stay-at-home appeal also comes rhyming with names of all 22 districts in Punjabi such as “Faridkot… baahar niklan te laao rok”, “Hoshiarpur.. hoshiar raho, ghar vich raho”, “Amritsar.. ghar rehan valeyan tey nahi corona da koi asar”, “Sangrur — Social Distancing te stay home follow karo zaroor’, “Patiala — kuch din outings te lagao taala” and “Ludhiana- thode din tak gharon bahar nahi auna..”
There is poetry and rhyming too, ‘You and Us, In the fake news times, fight karange ikathe, Since you are in quarantine, Na share karo nakli khabran, while staying at home, we promise you safety, at all times to come..’
A video tells people what they should do ‘Karo Na’ (Do it) to fight ‘Baba Corona’ and coupled with bhangra beats, it goes like, ‘Ghar bai ke gallan karo na, Baahar baitha Baba Corona. Hatth sanitize karo na, baahar baitha Baba Corona. Saare milke dikhao unity, Punjab Police tuhade layi hai khadi..’
‘Baari barsi khatan geya si, khat ke liyaandi fake news.. jo koi forward karda fake khabraan hun niklu ohda jaloos,’ says another creative asking people not to forward fake news.
Headquartered in Surat, with a corporate office in Chandigarh, DesignBoxed volunteered to help Punjab Police to create a social media campaign to successfully implement curfew and fight fake news.
Naresh Arora (40), political strategist and founder director DesignBoxed Creatives, says, “The unprecedented times necessitated these campaigns because now Punjab Police is not dealing with criminals, but its own citizens and hence a campaign was needed which interacts with people to convince them to stay at home and stop sharing fake news. We have been handling social media for anti-drug Special Task Force (STF) of Punjab Police since three years, but for Punjab Police’s main handles, we are creating content for the first time. It is an unpaid assignment. I am a Punjabi and I thought it was responsibility to do something for my state.”
About Punjab Police’s debut on TikTok and ShareChat, he added: “We already have 45 million views on TikTok and one lakh followers. Similarly, there are one million views on ShareChat. It means our content is clicking with people.”
A group of Punjab policemen doing bhangra moves and asking people to wash their hands and avoid handshake also went viral with lyrics: “Oh baari barsi khattan gaya si, khat ke liyaandi daal, hatth na milao sohniyo, karo door ton Sat Sri Akal….Hath saban naal dho liyo, rakhon sabna da khyaal”.
Punjab Police also has a second agency working with it pro bono — Mumbai-based Mogaé Media in association with Wunderman Thompson. They have brought a Bollywood twist to the campaign by using old Hindi classics to create jingles and using a real life face of a Punjab cop on each creative. Their campaign tagline goes like: ‘Janhit mein jaari, aao pade corona pe bhaari’.
They also roped in Punjabi singers Sidhu Mooeswala and Diljit Dosanjh in short videos to spread awareness against coronavirus, but one of their videos recently ran into a major controversy and faced flak. “Main Gurbaksh gawacha, Italy ton aaya haan” — sung by Moosewala allegedly defamed and shamed Punjab’s first coronavirus casualty — a 70-year granthi from Nawanshahr. The five-minute song also had photos of deceased and blamed him for passing virus to his grandson and said: “Siggi jo mainu bimaari, oh ho gai mere pottey nu”.
At the end of the video, with Punjab Police logo, the credits declared: “Created for Punjab Police, by Carol Goyal & Chraneeta Mann”. The song is still available on official YouTube channel of Sidhu Moosewala.
However, Bollywood creatives by this agency have been a hit with several users sharing them. These include spin-offs of popular songs like — “Main Nikla Oh Gaddi Leke, raste par oh sadak mein, ek Punjab Police ka afsar aaya, main utthe herogiri chod aaya”; and “Oonchi hain building, lift teri band hai.. neeche na aana police bandobast hai….”
Carol Goyal, Executive Director, Mogaé Media, says, “The campaign with Bollywood songs, while providing some welcome relief from depressing and sad times we are living in, delivers a very clear message in an entertaining way. We have used real life photos of cops on creatives to present them as friendly and to celebrate our force.” About Moosewala’s video that sparked a row, she added: “The video nowhere aimed at defaming any real life coronavirus deceased. We never meant to hurt anyone.”
IPS Surendra Lamba, Executive Assistant-cum-staff officer to Punjab DGP, and also supervisor of the social media content, says, “A medium was needed to reach people via mobile phones and digital platforms so that content is so interesting that they also share it further. The intention of police or singer Moosewala wasn’t to defame the deceased patient, but people probably did not like that video. However, overall campaign has been getting massive response.”