Short List
Product / ServiceNEWS SERVICE
CategoryI02. Challenger Brand


Name Company Position
Gautam Reghunath Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Chief Executive Officer
Aalap Desai Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Executive Creative Director
Pravin Sutar Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Executive Creative Director
P.G Aditya Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. National Creative Director
Nishi Kant Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. EVP & Branch Head
Harsh Shah Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. SVP & Business Head - West
Rohit Nair Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Senior Brand Strategist
Pragati Rana Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. AVP Strategy
Yash Kulshreshtha Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Creative Director (Copy)
Ananda Sen Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Creative Director (Art)
Rumi Behramkamdin Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Account Director
Sonia Gupta Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Associate Creative Director
Aabhaas Shreshtha Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Associate Creative Director
Saransh Mehta Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Brand Strategist
Anirudh Venugopal Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Copy Supervisor
Devdutt Viz Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Art Director
Sahil Chauhan Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Group Head - Digital Production
Sachin Poojary Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Supervisor Motion Graphics
Esha Bhivandker Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Associate Account Manager
Arnab Gupta Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Sr. Group Head - Motion Graphics
Niranjan Raghu Dentsu Webchutney Pvt. Ltd. Sr. Motion Graphics Designer


Since 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been afforded a special status by the Constitution of India. Over the years, wars have been waged with countless lives lost and billions of dollars spent. On 5th August 2019, the Government of India revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution which afforded this special status. Along with it, the statehood was revoked, instead forming two Union Territories under the direct rule of the central government – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. For security reasons, a communications blackout was imposed. No calls and no Internet meant that the residents were left in the dark, disconnected from the outside world. For over 142 days, the youth that relied on the Internet for news was cut-off from the world. VICE wanted to reconnect them by sharing news from around the world, without the internet.

Describe the strategy

The blackout had severely affected even other mediums of news such as print, Kashmiris were further disconnected from the world. Even journalists had to wait in line to file their reports at government-controlled Internet cafes. With The 8-Bit Journo, VICE was looking to target users that consumed news primarily through their phones. Looking to recreate the experience of the Internet, they stumbled upon a medium that was all but forgotten – SMS. As the restrictions on SMS were removed on the 142nd day, VICE found the perfect loophole to inform the Kashmiris. Mobile readers between the ages of 18-35 consuming English news were targeted. Further, the neighbourhoods where Kashmiris subscribed to The 8-Bit Journo were targeted to increase word-of-mouth awareness.

Describe the execution

On the 142nd day of the communications blackout, the government eased restrictions on SMS. With a goal to update Kashmiris, news stories were carefully picked from an archive of thousands. Each article was then redesigned in pixel art using an open-source tool. Every article started with a custom artwork and headline to give readers an immersive experience. Rigorously testing the articles on 8 of the most popular devices in Kashmir, the articles were perfected. Due to the 160 pixel limitation per line, the words in the headlines were carefully chosen. The articles were edited to fit the 10 SMS limit, making for an immersive and swift experience. These articles were sent to Kashmiris reading English news between the ages of 18-35. For each day of news they had missed, VICE sent them six news articles. That’s how VICE broke the news to Kashmiris, without breaking the law.

List the results

* 947 articles were redesigned into pixel art. * 1.2 million Kashmiris reached. * 86% subscription rate. * 6 news articles for each day of the lockdown.

Please tell us about how the work challenged / was different from the brands competitors

Single-handedly, the communications blackout in Jammu & Kashmir cut-off access to online publications and news portals. The portals which were the primary source of news for the Kashmiri youth. The conditions on-ground also had decimated the distribution of newspapers. In such a disrupted situation, The 8-Bit Journo by VICE became the primary source of information during the communications blackout. By reconnecting the youth, it also helped return a sense of normalcy in an abnormal environment.


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