Ad of the Day: Mahindra

Harmony Korine brings India to its feet in anthem spot for conglomerate

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Brand anthems. They're so inspiring. So heartwarming. So . . . vague.

Indie filmmaker Harmony Korine and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (an Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire), working on behalf of New York agency StrawberryFrog, crafted this grand but ultimately somewhat empty 60-second anthem for Mahindra, the Indian multinational conglomerate that's involved in everything from automotive to agriculture. It must have been one of the easiest jobs Korine's ever done. The theme is "Rise." So, the spot shows people across India—schoolchildren, musicians, boxers, activists, factory workers, etc.—rising from a sitting position to assert their independence, spirit, ambition (insert your own inspirational, life-affirming word here). There's also some gratuitous footage from the Egyptian uprising thrown in. Slow motion always makes these things feel more epic, so Korine shot this one at 1,000 frames per second on a Phantom camera (which we last saw used for that Australian music-festival promo, which at least was more interesting to look at). "There are those who accept things as they are. And those who rise to change," says the onscreen copy at the end, which is also impressively indistinct and perfectly anthemic.

There's an associated contest, wherein people are encouraged to "spark the rise" by sending in ideas for how to make Indian society better—a Pepsi Refresh Project-type initiative designed to give the large, faceless Mahindra more of a human touch. Each month, eight winning "sparks" will receive financial grants from Mahindra—five chosen by public vote and three by a jury. The best of the best will later receive further funding.

The promise of underwriting inspiration gives the effort a small measure of real-world grounding, but the creative just isn't interesting or rousing enough to mask the project's manufactured nature. The initiative may end up benefiting people in real ways, but the call to action just comes off as phony.


Client: Mahindra

Spot: "Rise"

Agency: StrawberryFrog, New York

Executive Creative Directors: Scott Goodson, Kevin McKeon

Creative Directors: Corinna Falusi, Todd Beeby

Agency Producer: John Garland

Account Director: Jake Baldridge

Production Company: MJZ

Director: Harmony Korine

Executive Producer: Eric Stern

Producer: Laurie Boccaccio

Director of Photography: Anthony Dod Mantle

Editors: Rick Russel, Sonejuhi Sinha, Viet-An Nguyen

Post-Production: Final Cut, New York

Music: Human Worldwide

Graphic End Sequence: The Lifelong Friendship Society

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.