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Dabur Vatika's ode to brave and beautiful women

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | January 08, 2015
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The hair shampoo brand has rolled out a digital commercial featuring a bald woman. The campaign, which salutes female cancer survivors, is the beginning of more such inspiring stories.

Dabur Vatika's 'Brave & Beautiful' ad film

Dabur Vatika's 'Brave & Beautiful' print ad

There is nothing new about brands launching CSR (corporate social responsibility) campaigns or ad films, where they attach their product proposition to a cause. Tata Tea's 'Jaago Re', Godrej Aer's recent commercial about pollution renewal certificates, Ambuja Cements' ad on the Hindu-Muslim divide, Kaun Banega Crorepati's promo on the North East are popular, top-of-the-mind ads. But how often does a brand, which is standing up for a cause, highlight something exactly opposite to its product proposition?

Dabur Vatika, the hair shampoo and hair oil brand, took everyone by surprise when its latest digital commercial featured a bald woman. The ad, a CSR initiative, shows a woman who is a cancer survivor. A caring mother and a sweet wife, the woman has just recovered but is not feeling confident at all because she has no hair. She is hesitant about going out of the house and being seen by people.

However, everyone close to her - family at home and colleagues in office - rallies around and tries to make her feel comfortable. They love her for her inner beauty. Her husband and her female colleagues in office are seen putting a bindi (the traditional kala tikka to ward off ill luck) to assure her of her beauty.

The campaign, titled 'Brave and Beautiful', is a tribute to women who have battled cancer and have taken steps to live like normal people. Dabur Vatika has, over the years, talked about the beauty attached with hair and hence this commercial is a bold step in the effort to be something "different".

Praveen Jaipuriar

Jaideep Mahajan and Pranav Harihar

According to Praveen Jaipuriar, marketing head - personal care, Dabur India, as a natural hair care expert, Vatika seeks to salute the inner strength and beauty of the women who have fought and defeated cancer, and have resumed normal life. Brand Vatika, he points out, has always stood for 'Woman of substance'. "Brands always talk about how hair makes a woman beautiful. Most brands talk about hair fashion, style or strength. But the hard fact is that a lot of women who have undergone chemotherapy do not just lose hair but end up with their self-esteem eroded. It takes a great deal of confidence and inner strength to face the world all over again," he adds.

The campaign begins with an engaging note, "some people don't need hair to look beautiful." It conveys that 'Beauty is not skin deep'. Dabur Vatika also seeks to identify and present stories of more such brave women who can inspire millions more who are fighting this dreadful disease today. The company has announced that many more legs of the campaign will be seen in the near future. For now, the 4 minute-long digital ad film will be edited to 60 seconds and launched on TV.

The ad film has been created by Linen Lintas, Delhi and produced by Film Farm Mumbai. The lyrics of the background score were written by Linen Lintas' GCD Pranav Harihar Sharma (who is also credited with the script and screenplay of the film). The vocalist is Salim Merchant.

When asked what the brief was, Jaideep Mahajan, ECD, Linen Lintas says, "The whole idea was to start a conversation with people and take a leadership stance. Cosmetics enhance external beauty but with this film, our idea is to take a much more meaningful stance on beauty and go beyond the physical appearance of a woman." Mahajan adds that brands can talk about the physical attributes only till a certain level. If it has to go beyond that, it has to do something bigger, meaningful.

Sharma elaborates that the song - 'tu faulad, tu phool' - captures the two sides of the woman. "A woman is stronger (than a man) when it comes to facing problems in life. The song captures that mental strength and the fight that she needs to fight with herself after losing one of the dearest accessories - her hair. Tu faulad hai tu phool salutes the bravery and beauty of such a fighter and her undying spirit."

Power-packed?

Ramanujam Sridhar

Vikas Tandon

Sudarshan Sudevan

Ramanujam Sridhar, founder and CEO, Brand-comm points out that the reference to hair care is subtle because one can see photographs of the lady when she had long hair. Though the ad catches one's attention, Sridhar is not sure if he would share it online. "It is not stark enough to provoke action or a change in attitude. To my mind, a truly effective commercial in this category must provoke either an action or a change in attitude. It must rouse me from my normal apathy. This one has the beginning of an idea that has lost its way in execution," adds Sridhar.

Vikas Tandon, managing director, Indigo Consulting is of the opinion that the ad is great but not unique. "It touches upon a widely discussed and debated human subject - the meaning of beauty - and is woven into a nice story and is well produced. Most importantly, it surprises you with an unconventional portrayal of a beautiful woman and will, therefore, attract attention and opinion."

Considering that Dabur Vatika helps hair grow, is the campaign a mismatch of sorts? Tandon answers, "Not at all. In fact, if one were to take a slightly suspicious view, the ad indirectly, subconsciously even, reinforces how important beautiful hair is to the popular concept of beauty, even though the story purports to challenge it. And of course through the story, the brand is taking the moral high ground, so it wins both ways."

Sudarshan Sudevan, creative head - Digital, FCB Ulka too feels it's a warm, feel-good ad. Having said that, Sudevan feels that the ad has been tagged with so much emotional dosage, that it may act against its viral ability. "Plus things like the bindi being stuck thrice in a designer pattern kills the seriousness it built from the start (it made me wonder whether the entire office would stick bindis on her). Hence the video might not be shared organically as expected - unlike the Tanishq remarriage ad, which I thought scored perfectly in this category. But their hashtag #braveandbeautiful can create conversations and thus be more viral than the ad itself."

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