afaqs!

Brands rally for women

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 08, 2013
On the eve of Women's Day, telecom players have taken up several activities around the country in a bid to honour women and make them aware about their rights.

Women's issues have suddenly grabbed limelight after several high profile cases that caught public attention. On the eve of International Women's Day (March 8), several brands have launched initiatives to associate themselves with women's issues, honour their courage, throw light on their rights and empower them through self defence techniques.

The Red Rickshaw Revolution

MTS, the telecom brand from Sistema Shyam TeleServices, has launched its latest campaign, titled Women Mpowered, that gifts pepper spray bottles to every woman who buys a new MTS connection. Also, it has launched a special talking plan under which women get special calling rates, SMS rates, calls at negative balance, safety tips and others.

MTS will also offer a facility where women can get to know about their rights and enrol for free self defence classes organised by the MTS Vigilance team. To avail the offer, ladies have to register their mobile numbers at 678.

The telecom brand will also provide VAS alerts on safety tips, fitness tips and beauty tips worth Rs 120 per month complimentary for the first two months to all its women customers who enrol for the initiative. The campaign, initially launched in the New Delhi circle, will be extended to other circles later.

Leonid Musatov, chief marketing and sales officer, MTS India, says. "With the incidents of crime on the rise, especially against women, the challenge is to come up with innovations to create a safer environment. This Women's Day, we are doing our bit by launching MTS Women MPowered. This initiative has been specially designed to provide MTS women customers a sense of safety through a gamut of services."

Laura Turkington on Red Rickshaw Revolution

Angels of Vodafone store

In another initiative, Vodafone Foundation, in order to honour courageous women, has embarked on a campaign titled Red Rickshaw Revolution, where three women will traverse 1,500 km between New Delhi and Mumbai in a span of nine days and connect with 30 rural women who have a courageous story to tell about how they fought several stigmas to start their dream endeavours that not just benefitted them but others in their neighbourhood, too. The interactions between the women will be converted into small video capsules to be shared on the social media platform.

Laura Turkington, director, Vodafone Foundation in India; Sunita Chaudhary, the first Indian female auto rickshaw driver; and Carina Deegan are the three women who will traverse five states - Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The campaign will take off on March 9 and will end in Mumbai on March 18.

Turkington says, "It will be a great experience interacting with these women as they are the real heroes of society. Their endeavours have helped many people to break the barriers and come forward. We have researched enough before starting this campaign and shortlisted these women."

Vodafone Foundation has launched a website, www.redrickshaw.in, where the videos will be uploaded. The microsite was launched on February 19 and already hosts stories of several women achievers across the country who, despite odds, are following their dreams.

Leonid Musatov

It is working in association with three NGOs - Breakthrough, CORP and Apne Aap Women's Collective (AAWC). It is also requesting people to donate funds that will be used for the NGOs that work for women empowerment, eradication of poverty, safety and security of women and other areas.

Turkington further adds that for every donation made, the Vodafone Foundation will also make a contribution and has pledged to match up to Rs 85 lakh in donations.

In another initiative, the telecom operator has announced that it will launch all-women stores, called Vodafone Angel Stores, across 13 states of the country.

Vodafone says, "Initiatives like Angel Stores encourage women employees to assume greater responsibilities at the work. The store gives them exposure to cross functional opportunities in the telecom and retail sector from finance, logistics, and customer relations to security. We believe this platform is a great building block in social and economic development and gives women employees confidence to take independent decisions."

Currently, 15 such stores are operational across 13 states in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Goa, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Shillong, Bhubaneshwar, Jaipur, Agra, Mysore, Chennai, Lucknow, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

Besides telecom players, other brands, too have made extra efforts to show their solidarity with women's issues through campaigns around Women's Day.

Zee TV has initiated a campaign titled 'Umeed Wali Smile', where it urges audiences across the world to sign an online petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/every-woman-deserves-to-smile-umeed-wali-smile) to declare their support for the campaign. Zee will distribute bookmarks and bindis to women passengers in the local trains in Mumbai to spread the message.

Radio City's 'We care for you' initiative has lined up exciting activities around Women's Day. Be it Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad or Delhi - Radio City is taking all efforts to ensure a very special Women's Day for its listeners. This Women's Day also marks the return of the popular Radio City show, Maya, on PlanetRadiocity.com.

Kamla Bhasin

Pragya Vats

As a part of the initiative, the radio jockeys will visit households in Delhi and help women with their daily chores on the Women's Day. The RJs of 'Mumbai Masala' will give women achievers across the city a chance to speak about their awesome journeys.

Only connect?

Kamla Bhasin, coordinator, One Billion Rising Campaign, says, "If a brand is doing a campaign that focuses on showing women's curves and glorifying them, then it does not make much of a sense; while if a bank, telecom or motorcycle brand is taking up such a campaign to increase awareness on such issues, it makes a lot of sense."

She adds that primarily, such activities are brand extensions but there is no harm as these are positive messages talking about women to come out of their homes, take steps for their security and other issues. All these initiatives are an extension of the propositions that women groups have been putting forward for years.

Pragya Vats, campaign manager, India, Save the Children India, says, "There is a need to reach out to the people. And these campaigns in a way say that there is help out there, don't fear. They act as watchdogs and awaken media and people and work towards helping make society a little more safe."

She adds that it also helps in changing the mindset of men and of course, there is an added advantage to the brands as they connect with more people through it.

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