The Economist Interpret The World

The Economist got people in India talking with their November 2009 outdoor advertising campaign, “Interpret the World”. The target audience comprised well-educated executives between 25 to 50 years of age. The strategy was simple: make them curious, fox them, force them to think. A series of six billboards and unipoles each bore three seemingly unrelated visuals placed within each other, portraying a set of inter-related globally relevant stories. Each billboard carried a code that people could text to a given number to get the full story. People took wild guesses about which billboard spoke about which stories, often getting into arguments with friends and strangers, before texting the code in a huff to make their point. 11194 SMS responses were received between November 8 and December 1. Subscription registrations on went up by 44% during the campaign period. The website, registered 66,851 visitors and 134431 page views in two weeks.

Economist Baby Billboard

Economist Whale Billboard

Tigers are being killed for their bones, which are used as a cure for male impotency.

The Industrial Revolution in Japan expanded the workforce, raising the demand for food, sparking off massive killing of whales.

Economist Suitcase Billboard

‘Swine flu led to media frenzy, which in turn led to a dip in tourism, as people avoided H1N1 affected countries. Read The Economist. Interpret the World’

Economist Polar Bear ad on site

Economist Famine ad on site

Economist Obesity ad on site


The Interpret the World campaign was developed at Ogilvy Landscapes, Mumbai, India, by chief creative officers Rajiv Rao, Abhijit Avasthi, executive creative director Sumanto Chattopadhyay, creative director/copywriter Sukesh Kumar Nayak, creative director/art director Heeral Desai Akhaury, art directors R. Pratheeb and Soumen Nath, copywriter Vedashree Khambete.

The campaign won a Bronze Outdoor Lion at Cannes International Advertising Festival.