What does the World Environment Day mean to you? The question, in itself, may sound simple, but when it was posed to a wide cross-section of people, the answers were as baffling as they were callous. Members of the Azure team conducting the survey were naturally aghast by the sheer lack of awareness about the environment, leave alone knowledge about the day celebrating it.
“The year was 2009 and to be fair to all concerned, environmental issues were yet to become the flavour of the month as they are now” said Anup Agarwalla, the owner of Azure, the agency that was doing the survey. “Yet, the obvious apathy was palpable and we were extremely pained by the response”. Anup could have shrugged it all off and moved on, but he didn’t, starting in the process, a practice that is creating its own ripples in the wake.
“The client we were conducting the survey for, decided not to throw good money behind bad environment, but we decided to carry on and do our bit to raise awareness about environmental degradation and the need for the adoption of sustainable lifestyles” said Anup. The result was a greeting card for the Environment Day, one that had enclosed a neem seed with a message that had spelled out in clear terms the need to go green.
It was a first of its kind and the craftsmanship that had gone into the making of the card, the unique message and the very thought behind the cold call bearing the warm message, urging the recipients not to harm the fragile ecological balance were a huge hit. That was almost a decade back. Since then, Azure has crafted brilliant cards containing green vibes for every Environment Day, making its name synonymous with the event in the process.
“At first, I thought it was a pure waste of money, sending people greeting cards to wish them for something that did not really concern them” said one client who has been in Azure’ mailing list since the time it sent out the neem seed. “Client-Agency relations are supposed to be sweet; what was this upstart agency trying to allude by sending me a neem seed of all things, I had wondered. It was much later that I got to appreciate the creativity behind the cards and I must confess, it was only recently that I really understood their purpose. Climate Change and Global Warming are threats that we all face and I must congratulate Azure for not only understanding it before many like me and for consistently working towards trying to educate us. Talking about the environment is one thing, but spending own resources to spread the word is commendable”.
The sheer amount of research that goes into the creation of these cards is phenomenal, apart from the uniqueness of the thought and the precise execution of the message. However, what makes the cards really stand out is the exquisite craftsmanship and the attention to detail that they exhibit. Some say, they are the perfect embodiment of the values that Azure’s work stands for, personifying the spirit of the agency itself.
An obvious fallout has been the establishment of Azure as one of the finest proponents of public issue advertising, a Rebel, with a cause. Its understanding of issues relating to resources that are depleting, of exploitation that is killing and the need to embrace sustainability as the core, has not only earned it kudos but have also got clients knocking with work. “Yes, the cards help get us new clients” says Anup, hastening to add “and No, we don’t do it for the work. We do it because we believe that if we do not do everything that we can to arrest, even reverse, the adverse effects of global warming and climate change, history will not treat us kindly.”
For the uninitiated, Azure is a Kolkata based boutique agency that not only does great creatives, but is also known for the cards it sends. Holi, Diwali, New Year, Independence Day and the Environment day – are now occasions, many literally look forward to, only to feast on the wishes sent out by Azure. Owned by Anup Agarwalla, a Paulite and a Xaverian, Azure is a bundle of creative vibes strung together by a common passion that abhors the ordinary, even as it strives to keep its tryst with excellence.
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