Ugrasrava is one of the most senior devotees of the Australian Yatra. He tells the story of the Wrangler ad.
Written by Aprakrita dasa
Ugrasrava: I had friends in the advertising industry, and one day they came to the temple and said, “The Wrangler Jeans Company wants us to advertise their product and we have the idea to use the Hare Krishnas’ in a sankirtan party – playing mridangas and kartals, wearing dhotis and full tilak, coming down Burk Street. One of the devotees will wear a Wrangler denim shirt along with his dhoti, and the caption on top of the photo will read, ‘I ain’t going unless I wear my Wrangler shirt.’”
When he heard the idea, Madhudvisa said, “That’s terrific, let’s go ahead with it.” So I told my friends, “We’re happy with it. How much are you going to pay us?” “We’ll give you this amount of dollars.” Madhudvisa said, “Okay.” We did it, and then two days later we had to do a bit more work and Madhudvisa said, “Get more money.” I told my friends, “Sorry, but we need more money.” They said, “Okay.” Every day as we did more work, I asked for more money and got it. When the ad was finished I got paid in cash. They’d never done that before as usually people had to wait months for payment.
The ad was hugely successful. It was displayed around the world on billboards 40 feet by 20 feet – devotees saw it in London – and it won awards. But I was getting harassed by the brahmacharis because I was the only householder, and the mood was that if you weren’t in orange, you were in maya. They said, “This is not what Prabhupada wanted. Prabhupada wanted us to sell books.”
So, one day Prabhupada wanted to go for a drive. I drove him through the suburbs, and then came back through the city and parked right underneath a big billboard on a building called Maya which is a huge network of shopping centers in Melbourne. Prabhupada was chanting and looking around. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, what do you think of that ad there?” Prabhupada looked at it for a long while and said, “Ah, the boy who did this is very intelligent.” Then he said, “So, it is you?” I said, “Yes, Prabhupada.” He said, “Ah, that is very good.”
I went straight back to the brahmacharis and said, “Listen, don’t tell me that the Wrangler ad was maya. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Prabhupada thought it was fantastic.”