The secret of ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’: How Dentsu Creative India bested all others to take the creative crown

Remnants of colonialist movements still exist today, and one global news destination has decided to put its foot down–in the most modern approach possible.

With a fusion of both intelligence and creativity, Vice World News together with its creative agency Dentsu Webchutney from the House of Dentsu in India has not only captured the general public with its provocative ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ campaign but has also ensnared the creative industry to dominate Cannes Lions, the prestigious award-giving body, for Dentsu Creative India to ultimately be named ‘Agency of The Year’ – the first-ever win for an agency from India. 

So how did Dentsu Creative India do it? What has been the secret formula for such recognition of this scale?

The Secret Sauce

Amit Wadhwa, CEO of Dentsu Creative India, conversed with MARKETECH APAC and let the cat out of the bag. You’d be surprised that the key ingredient that made them stop people in their tracks and look is not something of lustre and extravagance, but that Wadhwa says, none other than being armed with a strong idea

‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ is an immersive campaign which brings viewers into what seems like any other tour of the British Museum–only that it’s anything but that. Dubbed as an ‘unofficial tour’ of the European fixture, audiences are taken into the real and authentic narrative, through Instagram filter and immersive audio, behind each artefact such as the Rosetta Stone of Egypt, the Parthenon Marbles from Greece, and Hoa Hakananai’a of Rapa Nui–told straight by the people from countries the precious pieces have been taken from.

“The strength of ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ [lies] in the origin of the idea, which is colonialism and how the rulers of the past have written their own version of artefacts; the version which is being depicted at the British Museum,” said Wadhwa.

A kick-ass idea or concept is not enough though, Wadhwa says in today’s time, an idea must always be viewed through the lens of technology and to find how it can be nurtured through the capabilities of innovative digital mediums. 

“The other strength of this idea is how technology has been so seamlessly integrated into its execution. It strongly brings such a rich experience that you almost feel as if you are part of the same era when the artefacts were in the country of origin. In short, a strong idea coupled with integrating technology in it and ensuring it comes alive across mediums effectively is what makes it so much more special.” 

The key then is ‘Modern Creativity’, which the agency defines as the kind of work that “creates culture, changes society, and invents the future.” 

Mobilising the winning formula

Of course, the strategic skeletal framework would only be the beginning and what would come after is the real work. 18 months and a combined effort of over 100 people–Wadwha revealed are what it took to make the ‘idea’ for ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ “so much more special.” 

And true enough–it had all been worth it. Every aspect of the multimedia project – its podcast component, social activation, and experience overall – had been deemed as the crème de la crème of this period’s creative range. For the Radio & Audio, Brand Experience & Activation, and Social & Influencer categories in Cannes Lions, the Grand Prix, which is the highest of honours, went to Dentsu Creative India. 

The idea for the campaign originated from a prior VICE documentary called ‘The Empires of Dirt’ which is built around the narrative of twisted tales of the origin of artefacts from the colonised world. Eventually, what would radiate more than the ingenuity and creativity of its execution–is the genuine movement behind the ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’. The campaign was birthed, most of all, to ignite into people a certain ‘condemnation’ that is literally long overdue and embolden them to think about what can be done about modern colonialism today.

Wadhwa shared that truth be told, the project had been created without the knowledge of the British Museum; so the welcoming words in the official video that a new tour is around “but the museum doesn’t know about it yet,” were in fact not just an artful message. 

“The whole idea of this project is to put the truth on the table and provide visitors of the British Museum with a fair understanding of the real stories behind the artefacts. Our aim is to spark a movement against the storage of artefacts from other countries in the British Museum, and that these should eventually be returned to the countries to which they belong.”

Wadhwa described the project as a “very bold” and “possibly uncomfortable” idea, which was expected to ruffle a few feathers, but that the mission was clear from the beginning, and that the Dentsu and VICE teams ensured to stay true to it and never dilute it. 

A simple ‘idea’ for a radical movement 

The CEO of the multi-awarded agency does not intend to be privy to their ‘winning strategy’, and loud and proud reveals that it’s all about marrying an uncomplicated but brilliant idea with that of the groundbreaking impact of digital mediums. 

“To be effective, every idea must first be a powerful one, which is either rooted in a profound insight or has the power to shape society or even change the future,” Wadhwa going back to the concept of ‘Modern Creativity’. 

He added, “However, given how technology has revolutionised the way one may truly experience an idea, we must make full use of [technology] and ensure that we do full justice to the idea using it.”

He said that the idea becomes strong when it can be brought to life across several mediums, “wherever the audience is present.”

“When all the mediums come together and talk, they create a stronger influence over the target audience and hence, is extremely important.”

Truly, what we’ve seen here is a convergence of old history and history in the making. Beyond the strategies and the elements of the winning campaign, it has been evident that the magnet that pulled everything together is the agency and the news authority’s bravery to tackle, no matter how uncomfortable, the hard things that matter. 

The power is in being grounded by an idea that can flourish into something bigger, and which would be realised through effective teamwork and collaboration to impart work that will prove its worth more than the sum of its parts. 

Ultimately, Wadhwa advises brands, “Once you have [an idea], make full use of all plausible mediums, while fully embracing the prowess of technology to bring the idea to life. That is when we will have a winner at hand.” 

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