Ariel reveals a father's secret anguish

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 22, 2016
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Ariel Matic detergent takes the idea of men helping women with the laundry to a new high via its latest 'share the load' ad.

BBDO India and Ariel Matic from P&G have hit the bull's eye once more. Its latest video ad in its 'share the load' campaign, which encourages men to help their wives with the laundry, has gone viral online. The big difference between this one and Ariel's previous ad is that while the first emphasised gender inequality as seen by two women, here the observer is a man. At Cannes last year, the Ariel ad won a Glass Lion which is a special prize for ads that address issues of gender inequality.

Ariel 'Share the load' new ad

The current film opens to an elderly man playing with his grandson in a picture of domestic bliss. His harried young daughter walks in from office, asks after her son's homework, and gives travel tickets to her dad before taking an office call. She rushes to the kitchen to make tea for her husband and the old man remembers (via a voiceover) how his little girl, who used to play with her doll house, now manages her own house. And, he goes on to think, "I am so proud of you - and I am so sorry."

#IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob asks Ariel in its 'Share the Load' campaign

Why sorry? Because he never stopped her from playing doll-doll to remind her that she should not be minding the house alone. Because as a child, she never saw her own father help her mother. Just as the old man's son-in-law - oblivious to the chaos around and happily watching TV - probably never saw his own father help his mother. "I am sorry on behalf of your husband's father and I am sorry on behalf of myself and on behalf of all other dads who set a bad example."

The old man returns home and thinks to himself that maybe he can't master cooking so late in life, but he can certainly help his wife with the washing. And, he proceeds to do that, much to his wife's shock.

The ad ends with the super: 'Why is laundry only a mother's job?' and 'Dads #ShareTheLoad'.

Divyapratap Mehta

Divyapratap Mehta, founder, Intertwined, a brand consultancy, thinks that the ad's popularity can be attributed to it being slightly provocative because it shows an extreme situation. "The ad and the situation the characters are in are somewhat unreal. The girl in the ad is probably from a city like Delhi or Mumbai. While she does all the work, the husband is shown sitting with the newspaper and ordering her to 'wash his shirt'. The chances of her doing it so submissively is zero. An educated girl in a metro city would just tell him to get up and put his shirt in the washing machine. So, in that sense, I find the ad quite regressive," he quips.

Mehta feels that the ad may appeal more to a small town audience. "It may reflect the masses in small town India, but not the kind of people we know. Many modern couples would find it alienating, I find it alienating because this is not the reality of my home," adds Mehta.

Commenting on the execution, he says, "It's executed well. The fact that it shows the girl's father as the messenger is interesting. For this generation of Indian men who never shared the load at home and were far more driven by gender roles and patriarchy, it holds true. But, between then and now, there has been a tectonic shift. Gender roles are being redefined, questioned and neutralised."

For Mehta, the ad would have been easy for the progressive Indian to relate to had it been more positive. By telling the stories of real-life modern Indian couples who share the load at home, it could have given the audience a role model to follow. "This one has none; it's almost a sorry letter," he rues.

Gopa Kumar

Gopa Kumar, vice-president, Isobar, feels that the basic reason that the video is being massively shared across social media is that it's very real and relatable. He says, "People can somehow relate to it and may have seen a similar situation in their own homes. What is different about this ad is again the emotions which are not fabricated and all of this resonates well with the audience at large. This will definitely make you reconsider what you are doing, while someone else in your family is doing all your household chores."

Kumar further adds, "This type of content which is high on emotional quotient and relatable, is great for online and gets shared instantaneously. I personally loved the ad. But, I would love to see how this conversation is taken further which is also a very important aspect of this."

Kumar feels that the ad ends on a very touching note where the father decides that it is still not late and takes his first step towards sharing the load. "The ad ends with a question and urges each one of us to think really hard and more importantly, to act", he says.

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