afaqs!

Why should tough girls look tough, asks Dabur Gulabari

By Aditi Srivastava , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 01, 2016
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The skin care brand's latest campaign #AmPrettyTough tries to break gender stereotypes around women's beauty through a unique social experiment featuring a 13-year-old mountaineer.

'Why should tough girls look tough?' asks Jaahnavi Sriperumbuduru, a young mountaineer in Dabur Gulabari's (the skin care brand from Dabur) latest campaign #AmPrettyTough

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Conventionally, skin care products while advertising, highlight benefits such as improved skin tone and better dermatological health. But, the advert from Dabur Gulabari, created and conceptualised by Contract Advertising, has deviated from the regular trend to try to convey to its target group of teenagers, a different definition of beauty.

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In the ad, a group of people are asked to participate in an innovative social experiment (conducted by the brand) where they are shown an image of a girl, whose hobby has to be guessed from a list of various hobbies displayed on placards. Interestingly, each participant assumes the girl to be sensitive and delicate; so, their responses vary from knitting and painting, to dancing and a host of such activities.

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Later, the girl in the film - thirteen-year-old Jaahnavi Sriperumbuduru -- enters the room and asks everyone, 'Why should tough girls look tough?' She urges them to look beyond mere looks as beauty can also imply being tough. It is also revealed that Sriperumbuduru holds the distinction of being the world's youngest person to scale Mt Elbrus, Europe's highest peak, and the first Asian to scale Africa's Mt Kilimanjaro.

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The initiative has tried to break the stereotype that teenage girls are often pushed towards laying more emphasis on looks. The social experiment conveys the message that anyone can achieve their goals in life, irrespective of their age and looks as is the case with Sriperumbuduru.

The Idea

Mayur Hola

When asked about the brief, Mayur Hola, executive creative director and executive vice-president, Contract Advertising, says, "The brief from the client was to find a brand space for Dabur Gulabari that resonates with young girls today."

Continuing further, he adds, "The activity was conducted in Mumbai in the last week of October 2015 where we picked up a mixed bag of people ranging from students, young executives, businessmen, and homemakers. The idea was to study if there were divergent views, depending on education and exposure. If you notice, in the experiment, we made respondents write their names on the placard they chose."

Explaining how Sriperumbuduru was chosen for the activity, Hola states, "She's an example of what all our girls can be. Such massive achievements at such a young age! When you talk to her you will be hugely impressed by her confidence, spirit and personality. Which 13-year-old holds confidence-boosting workshops in corporate houses? And yet, she could just walk past you on the street looking like a regular teenage girl. She is regular, but also extraordinary. Isn't that how we should look at every girl around, without being judgemental of her looks and without defining her as a sum total of her looks?"

Hola attributes the brand's conversation to be the differentiator when compared with others in the same segment. Corroborating the same, he says, "Which beauty brand has the philosophy, or has been anywhere closer to 'let's look beyond looks'? Some FMCG brands are trying to re-define man-woman territory at home and these are good conversations to have. If we must be, we can be clubbed together in the bracket of fresh talk."

Where's the brand?

Commenting on the thought and execution behind the campaign, Ayan Banik, head, brand strategy, Cheil India, says, "It is an interesting take on the communication aspect, though it is not a completely fresh idea." Banik cites the example of Nike's international campaign 'I Feel Pretty' featuring Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, that made waves some 10 years ago, in which everyone, from the bell boy to the chauffeur, as well as the people present on the court seem to be in awe of her prettiness. Later, her performance at the court makes people believe that Sharapova is something more than just good-looking. That, according to Banik, was a social experiment with an impactful and original message.

Drawing a parallel with an Indian brand that conducted a similar social experiment recently, Banik finds Amazon's #WhenAWomanShops to be a relevant instance of a social experiment where husbands were asked to take a guess at what their wives shopped for with the Rs 5,000 voucher given to them.

Ayan Banik

Spandan Mishra

According to him, P&G's #AlwaysLikeAGirl that was much talked about last year was a good example of a successful social experiment which was original, as well as had the proper product connect in place. Banik also gives a thumbs-up to Dabur Vatika's #BraveAndBeautiful campaign as an ad with a strong connect. On the other hand, he finds Dabur Gulabari's offering fall somewhere between an advert and a social experiment. "Though the Dabur Gulabari ad aims to convey the message that girls can be pretty as well as tough at the same time, it does not succeed much in either creating a brand statement or establishing a strong product connect," says Banik. He, moreover, feels that the execution could have been approached differently.

Spandan Mishra, head, strategic planning, Rediffusion-Y&R, finds the ad to be quite similar to the 2015 Chevy Colorado ad, in which a group of people were asked to project their opinion of someone on the basis of a picture and they ended up affirming a stereotype.

Talking about the Dabur Gulabari ad, Mishra is somewhat disappointed with the aspect of acting. "The acting is somewhat bad, and since this kind of film hinges on getting that right, I found that it was overdone. The interesting thing here was where they went with this," he says.

Commenting on the strategy employed by the brand, Mishra states, "I think that's a great insight. The message questions gender prejudices of both men and women - about how we tend to assume that women doing rough and tough things prefer to look 'manly and tough', whereas a well-groomed pretty girl is inevitably typecast as delicate, and is expected to have only 'feminine' hobbies."

Going on to talk about the ad in particular, Mishra has a question. "What does this have to do with Gulabari? As per my knowledge, Dabur is pretty much the market leader in this segment, but does Gulabari have any role to play here at all? Other than of course the mandatory glamour product shot at the end of the film? My worry is that there is NO mention of the brand or the product anywhere, not even from the young brand ambassador (or is she?) ... thus we may end up remembering the hashtag, but not the brand," says Mishra.

Mishra agrees that big brands often face the major dilemma of promoting the core product amidst a range of product extensions. Or, is the deviation from the core product deliberate in order to project an enhanced brand image? "There is a larger product architecture issue for big brands such as Dove, Pantene, Parachute, and Vaseline (which has several product extensions). Is there a larger agenda these extensions support? While Dove's real beauty stands tall amongst its peers, it's not easy to resolve the mother brand's dilemmas, particularly in the beauty space where there are many customer segments and products at different life stages," says Mishra.

According to him, even similar themes across product lines can help a mother brand stand out. "Take the examples of Parachute (independence, confidence, beauty), or Pantene (strength, motivation, recognition). Dabur is "questioning stereotypes" as part of its drive to be relevant to the young women of today with creatives such as 'Brave and beautiful' (Vatika), as well as the Gulabari ad. Being an established 'Ayurveda' brand, this is certainly exciting territory for them," says Mishra.

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