A new ad film about Iftar in Turkey is upsetting a lot of people.

A new film by Kent, Turkey’s biggest sweet maker, is turning sour for a lot of people from Turkey. Kent was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes (now Mondelez) in 2002.

Watch the film (titled, ‘A Feast Story’, meant for Ramadan, specifically Iftar, which is done as a community):

The film showcases a standard script that has been used around the world. A journey on the night/day before a big festival of national significance. The journey breaks for unknown reasons and the strangers inside the vehicle (plane, train, bus etc.) and forced to spend the big festival with each other instead of their loved ones back home, and bond with each other too.

For instance, the famous film for H&M, directed by Wes Anderson (only difference, the train doesn’t stop in this film, unlike the Turkish film where it does!!).

The context for why people are upset with the film is rooted in recent history. Last year (July 8, 2018), 24 passengers died and 318 passengers were injured in a much-publicized and protested train derailment in Northwestern Turkey’s Çorlu district. Investigations revealed that a culvert under the railway had collapsed as flood water sapped it by washing away the soil underneath its foundation, and as a result, the track ballast under the tracks lost its support.

A lot of people commenting on Kent’s film feel that the ad reminded them of the accident given the identical context – the only difference, the train in the film is stopped by people at the right time. The film doesn’t dwell into why the train was stopped and just shows a group of people shouting and signaling the train to stop by standing on the tracks. A happy ending in the film, but a tragedy in real life!

Shots from the film:

A visual of the accident, from news:

Did Ogilvy Turkey, the agency, script this consciously as a tribute or a fantasy ending to what was otherwise a horrendous tragedy, that too so recently?

I was able to read only the automatic English (from Turkish) translations of the reply tweets to Ogilvy’s original video. And they are full of anguish explaining how the whole scenario reminded them of what they saw in the news after the derailment.

Even if we assume (by giving the benefit of doubt) that the agency and client did not mean to mirror that incident (definitely a possibility given how generic the script actually is), did no one from both sides alert the team about the possibility of reigniting memories of the recent tragedy at all?

Train derailments, sadly, happen often enough in India, so an equivalent (to understand the context of why it upset people in Turkey) may need to be different.

For example, imagine an ad film showcasing CRPF jawans in a bus, in a setting that resembles Kashmir. They are traveling and then the bus is stopped by local people in a village.
And the villagers are offering them food/water/sweets for some occasion.
Would a bus full of CRPF jawans in a Kashmir-like setting remind you of something?
What would your reaction be about the brand and the film?
Would the positive spin to the narrative, removed from what actually happened, be seen as a good thing (“at least in the film, they are happy and alive”)?
Or would the brand be blamed for using a tragedy?



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