The Times of India Farmers Suicides campaign, raising support for those affected by a plague of suicide in 2009, has won a set of Gold Lions (Press, Design & Outdoor) at Cannes International Festival of Creativity. Plagued by drought, debts and crop failure, nearly 300,000 Indian farmers committed suicide last year. While the issue came under the government scanner and measures were taken to try and stop more suicides, the large, illiterate families of those already dead were left to fend for themselves. The brief was two-pronged: firstly to sensitise people to this harsh reality, and secondly, to raise funds for these impoverished families. Taproot India created the portraits using the very same object that had been the farmers’ undoing: dry, burnt hay. Using actual photographs of 12 deceased farmers as a reference, facial features and expressions were captured and recreated using hundreds of dried hay pieces. This symbol of ruined crops became the canvas on which their faces came alive. The portraits were displayed at exhibitions and auctioned to the highest bidders. The money raised was distributed amongst their families.
The Farmers Suicides campaign was developed at Taproot India, Mumbai, by chief creative officers/creative directors/art director/copywriter Santosh Padhi, chief creative officers/creative director Agnello Dias, copywriter Pallavi Chakravarti, art director/illustrator Anant Nanavare, photographers Amol Jadhav and Loknath Panigrahi.