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More on Dabbawala Scam: Too many people are missing the point

June 11, 2013

My earlier post:

Dabbawala scam: Case of life imitating advertising

And the firstpost article that made me write it:

Once upon a time, there was a dabbawalla scam by Anant Rangaswamy

More: Too many people are missing the point

Felt like relooking at the subject of my earlier piece in the run up to Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 16th.

The news is that folks are still posting the link to ‘Share my Dabba’ video like it was the next best thing to sliced bread or the other three wheels. And, what’s more, after some people have questioned the plausibility of such an initiative or the credibility of the claim made by the video, discussions have run into unimaginable directions. Starting from whether the food could be contaminated and could kill the children consuming the left-overs, or what a scam means, biases reflecting in posts about poor people anyway eating out of trash cans… all the way to people criticising a whistle blower for all kinds of reasons like Anant Rangaswamy never having cooked/ not knowing what being hungry is – including very interesting takes on Indians’ habit of being critical.

So it is clear:

Most of these well meaning people have done a remarkable job of missing the point. By a mile.

It is of course obvious to critics that sharing is ‘just’ an idea, and that thinking positive has it’s merits. But the contention is hardly about how a great idea may help people, it is about how the advertorial tells the tale: To twist a commentator’s words, the difference is between saying

‘Someone has invented a cure for stupidity’,

as opposed to saying

‘Someone could invent a cure for stupidity’.

Advertising and Acknowledgement

If anyone would care to dig deeper, they would find that within the advertising circles, much attention is given to how innovative a campaign is. Very often it turns out that the content is valuable to a client because of it’s effect on sales. But to advertising community, the value of any content is mostly in its creativity. The industry is long known for it’s glamour but also for its long hours and relatively low pays. So one’s kick comes not from the profit of one’s company, or salary, even if high. It comes from revelling in the process, in breaking new barriers, in recognition. So in the ad maker’s eyes, advertisements/ other creative content is inextricably linked with awards.

Why, as creative agencies go, McCann is a remarkable company and makes some remarkable ads. No doubt that ‘Dumb ways to die’ public service announcement for Metro trains in Melbourne by McCann Australia has already received many ad industry awards. And that the advertorial is a huge favourite for this year’s Lion. (More here: ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ ad top contender for Cannes award

Everyone consuming this content doesn’t always understand the dynamics of recognition or the pull for awards. There are ‘how to win awards’ manuals… I found this slide on slideshare in a presentation: How to win a Cannes Advertising Award by Nishad Ramachandran @

How to win a Cannes advertising award

If you paid attention to an earlier slide describing the process for awarding points, they fall under following four heads:

Strategy 20%

Idea 40%

Execution 40%

Results 20%

So, my friends, how much would each of you give to the ‘Share my Dabba’ ad?

Older post:


And someone else who wrote about it recently:

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