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    Art Imitating Art


    International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2009

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    Rolling Stone India & JWT: Traditional arts bring modern brands to life.

    When Rolling Stone launched its new Indian edition in 2007, the creative team at JWT were presented with one of the most intriguing creative briefs an advertising agency could imagine. How to make the iconic magazine look familiar - but still be iconic?

    Referred to as the "bible" of music journalism, Rolling Stone is one of the most respected media brands and distribution channels in the world. And its iconic status is as much about the magazine itself as the artists it profiles. At the time of the launch of Rolling Stone India, the US edition had a cult following on the streets of the subcontinent with an underground culture built upon the second-hand copies being passed around. But the arrival of an Indian edition with local music content had the potential to transform the landscape for a billion music-lovers across the country.

    As the Chief Creative Officer of JWT India at the time, Agnello Dias was the architect of the campaign's creative vision. Mr Dias and his team - working for the world's biggest advertising agency on the world's most famous music brand - took a surprising approach.

    "We wanted a sense of permanency to the campaign. We didn't want to produce just another piece of advertising material that lands on the trash heap once its job is done. Instead we wanted to produce something that would become a collector's item and have meaning beyond its shelf life - just like the original editions of Rolling Stone had," Mr Dias said.

    Inspired by the long-standing heritage of Rolling Stone itself, his team looked to the traditional arts of India. As one of the most ancient civilizations in the world, the country has some of the oldest surviving forms of traditional art in existence. Artisans today still practise arts that have passed from one generation to the next for centuries. Mr Dias and his team commissioned
    artisan communities to reproduce four of the most famous Rolling Stone images in traditional art forms. Jim Morrison was recast in kantha embroidery, Bob Marley in batik and Madonna in zardozi (another traditional form of embroidery), while rapper 50 Cent was painted in the Madhubani style. The resulting images were a fusion of East-meets-West design that became the focus of a vibrant contemporary outdoor and print advertising campaign across India.

    Rolling Stone India hit the streets bringing modern iconography and Indian folklore together. For the artisans of India, the modern campaign brought not just an income but access to a world of new markets and mass communication that they could never have dreamed of.