On Friday, several visitors, who’d had a blast at the Zara Tapas bar on R.K. Salai, got into their cars to head home, only to almost instantly get out in shocked bafflement.
The ‘Lord of Death’ Yama, all bloodshot eyes, decked up and replete with a mace and moustache, was sitting in their car, and talking to them. He had not come there to take their lives away, but to pass on a ‘drink and be driven’ card to them, smiling all the way.
Some screamed, some went speechless, and a video capturing the reactions of many of these visitors was uploaded on YouTube early on Saturday.
“The idea was to drive home the message in a funny way, but also to make sure it is taken seriously,” said Rathish P. Subramaniam of McCann Erickson, who conceptualised the ad. By Sunday, the video had registered over 85,000 views and had had hundreds of shares and likes on Facebook.
“This is not an ad, but an awareness campaign meant to spread a message to people in a palatable manner,” added Mr. Subramaniam. The idea to use Yama in the ad was not only to make the campaign funny but also instil a certain sense of fear among those who drink and drive. “The character of Yama is deeply ingrained in our brains. Even when we were shooting the video, many visitors reacted very emotionally. What you see in the video are only those reacted rather subtly,”
The video was made by a 29- year-old Chennai based filmmaker, Shivakar Srinivasan, who says the challenge was also finding that one person, who could look the part of Yama, and ensure a second look too. “The actor Radhakrishnan was a showstopper. The fact that his moustache is real only added to the effect,” he said.
Oriental Cuisines, the company that owns Zara Tapas bar, had collaborated with the Chennai traffic police to produce the ad. The spokesperson of the company said, “We have been trying to spread the message of responsible drinking for a long time. When we were approached for the campaign, we immediately clinched it because it drives home a message of having fun and being safe too.”