afaqs!

Ariel attempts to share the burden

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 02, 2015
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In its new campaign, the brand has asked if laundry is only a woman's duty and asks men to do their part.

One of the most pressing issues of all times is that of gender equality. While media portrays and society gives us hints that women have broken the glass ceiling, there seems to be a slightly nastier truth hidden behind it. The truth of the unequal distribution burden of domestic work.

Ariel's new campaign is an attempt to highlight the fact that while women may be making great leaps in her professional life, in her own house she is probably doing just the same amount of work she did before. "Share the load" is a call to action for people, men in particular, to share the burden of household chores with their beloved. The agency, BBDO in this case, was tasked with a brief to lead the conversation around laundry by starting a movement for Ariel so as to raise the emotional equity of the brand.

Ariel's new Share The Load TVC

Josy Paul

Ariel started using their Facebook page to create more conversations

The brand took data from Neilsen to build the base of the campaign

"At BBDO India, we are always trying to understand the conflicts in society, the social and cultural tension points, the fault lines of our world. In the case of Ariel 'Share the Load', we had four hypothesis and ideas, which we shared with the Ariel brand team. It was our client who picked this one," shares Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director, BBDO.

The film stars two senior citizens talking about the younger generation. While they discuss how in 'their time' they would earn a pittance, one of them also acknowledges with pride that now her daughter-in-law earns more than her son. While the said daughter in law can be seen getting ready for work in the background, her husband suddenly pokes his head out to admonish her for not washing his green shirt. It ends with the super on screen, asking 'Is Laundry only a woman's job'?

The same question has given rise to a lot of conversations on social media, with the hashtag #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob trending on Twitter. The brand has further introduced prizes for Twitter followers who can send out the message in different ways. Its Facebook page has also been populated with data and interesting graphics to represent the findings of a Nielsen survey which shows that a majority of Indian men feel that laundry is a woman's job.

"A brand movement like 'share the load' is all about building on the existing conversation in society. It is about raising the relationship between the brand and its consumers by having an engaging idea around laundry. It rejuvenates the category. The specific product story and benefit is a part of the overall plan," adds Paul.

Ariel used digital ads to drive the point home

The film may remind one of the Airtel Boss campaign and the debate that followed. While the intention of the campaign was not to portray gender discrimination, the film did show a woman - working at a more senior level than her husband - coming home to make the dinner. However, it seems like brands are finally trying to strike a balance between the two sexes. Recently, Raymond showed their complete man to be the one who stays at home and takes care of the child while the mother goes out to work. At the same time, Havells tried to tell men that when appliances can do a simple task, why should ask your wife to do it, in their 'Respect for Women' campaign. Detergent brand, Nirma also showed their four favourites - Hema, Rekha, Jaya and Sushma doing the "man's job" of pushing an ambulance out of the ditch while men stared.

But does it really bring in any changes, or even, the start of one?

Vandana Katoch

"Many of these men, on the face of it, say (and perhaps believe) all the right things about man-woman equality but somewhere at a subconscious level, the age old inequality still exists," says Vandana Katoch, founder, Clayground. Katoch feels that the brand has asked the right question and can make a connection with its audience. According to her, despite the much-glorified emancipation of women today, there is still a sizable male mindset that categorizes certain jobs for women only.

"Execution wise, the performances are stellar. It's a treat to watch the two ladies, especially grand old Sulabha Deshpande completely nail it. However, the opening context got me a little confused. When I first saw the film, I thought 'Madhu didi' was being portrayed as a woman way ahead of her times to hold a job in 1962, because the perception is that women then didn't normally work outside homes and if they did, they were the liberated ones. So the fact that she was a typist and earned Rs 6 did not, to my mind, set the context of inequality. Anything but. That said, the production values are nice and it's refreshing to see a detergent ad without the cliched 'product window' and 5-times stronger claims," she adds.

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