Decoding Creativity x Effectiveness – In conversation with Rahul Mathew, CCO at DDB Mudra Group

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Title of the work: Project Free Period

In conversation with Rahul Mathew, CCO at DDB Mudra Group.

Tell us about Project Free Period.

Stayfree has been championing the cause of normalising periods for decades now. But in India, periods are more than just a biological reality. They are a hardline, long-standing taboo. Instead of discussing it openly, a period conversation is often brushed aside in whispers.

Thus, to tackle one taboo, we engaged with another – prostitution. Despite having the largest number of sex workers in the world, prostitution, like periods, has long been a matter of shame and disgust in the country. 

And we found an insight that brought the two closer. Commercial sex workers look forward to their periods, because it’s the only time they cannot be forced to work by their pimps.

So we decided to bring together the two taboos of Periods and Prostitution to create a story of Progress.  By turning the 3 days of their period  into 3 days of learning a new skill or trade.

This would eventually not just offer them a way out of the industry, but would also go on to prove that your period days can become as liberating as you choose to make them.

Why did your team decide to enter Project Free Period into the Creative Strategy Spike?

The strength of this piece of work actually lies in the insight. So creative strategy seemed an apt category for it. With such a huge representation of Asian judges, Spikes actually is a great forum to celebrate the cultural nuances in our creativity.

Every team has their own way of coming up with a campaign idea. In the case of Project Free Period, how was the idea conceived?

Project Free Period is a great example of how you can contribute outside of your domain. The insight came from an art director. But everyone rallied around the execution – from working with the NGOs to crafting out the training modules to even teaching some modules.

As the Grand Prix winner of the Creative Strategy Spike, can you elaborate on how Project Free Period demonstrated exceptional interpretation of the business / brand challenge, breakthrough thinking and transformational problem-solving that led to a compelling creative strategy?

The power of the idea actually lies in the insight – Commercial sex workers look forward to their periods, because it’s the only time they cannot be forced to work by their pimps. 

For a brand that wanted to create stories of empowerment around periods, this was an opportunity to do something powerful and very brave.

It’s one of the few times when the brand’s reason to exist is so tightly coded into the purpose it seeks to embrace. And that’s what really makes the strategy of taking on something so provocative, still feel absolutely relevant for the brand.

“When creativity is effective and effective work is creative, it has even greater power to positively impact people, brands and the world.” What are your thoughts on this statement?

At DDB, we believe that creativity is the most powerful force in the business. It’s what inspired our global positioning of Unexpected Works – if the work we do for our clients is unexpected, it works for them beyond their expectations. And those are the words we live by at the agency.

Can you spotlight a recent piece of work done by your team that encapsulates the perfect partnership of creativity at its heart but driven by marketing effectiveness?

On the International Day of Disabled Persons, instead of just showing support for the community; we questioned the inclusivity of the most common item at McDonald’s – the burger.

Our conversations with the community revealed to us that for people with limited upper limb mobility, eating a burger is a cumbersome, and at times embarrassing, task. 

So we worked with NGOs and ergonomic experts to create a special packaging for the burger. We call it EatQual. A simple design-solve, where the packaging holds the burger upright and makes it easier for you to pick-up and hold with one hand.

The brand got a lot of appreciation for this big step towards inclusivity in the experience; and not just from the community. It also helps expand the consumer base to those who have limited upper limb mobility.

APPIES Asia Pacific 2022 will be hosted by Malaysia!

APPIES Asia Pacific is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

Despite hosting this event virtually due to the ongoing battle against COVID-19, this is the only event in the region where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the region’s most important industry leaders.

This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 10 categories, and 7 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

For more details visit


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