Biba on Dowry: If you can't beat it, flip it around

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | March 14, 2016
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Under its #ChangeIsBeautiful series, apparel brand Biba rolls out a digital campaign highlighting how a change in attitude is imperative when it comes to dowry.

Biba, the ethnic apparel brand for women, is back again with its second campaign under its #ChangeIsBeautiful series. After winning hearts with its first digital film on gender prejudice, the brand has focussed on the social evil of dowry in its latest ad spot.

The film, posted on Biba's official YouTube channel on International Women's Day (March 8), has so far garnered 1.6 lakh views.

Biba's second digital campaign under #ChangeIsBeautiful series

Continuing with its proposition of 'adapting the change', the film features a middle-aged couple who return home after fixing a matrimonial match for their son. The father of the boy happily informs the grandmother about the meeting while she (the grandmother) indirectly talks about seeking dowry. He (the father) firmly retorts that the girl is so good that they should give dowry to her family instead. The film highlights the change in people's mindset as they realise that deep-rooted practices like dowry are today, archaic and outdated.

Siddharth Bindra

Suva Ghosh

Talking about the campaign, Siddharth Bindra, managing director, Biba, says, "The feedback from our first digital film encouraged us to move forward and take up the more serious social issue of dowry. With this ad film, we have attempted to take a different and positive approach towards the changing world. Change is beautiful. This film is all about embracing and celebrating that change."

Conceptualised by the digital agency Brandmovers, the current campaign has been created post the encouraging feedback on Biba's first ever digital film. According to Suva Ghosh, chief creative officer, Brandmovers, the campaign, #ChangeTheConvention (the brand's previous film) sparked a lot of conversations on social media about levelling the ground for men and women in our social structure.

"Taking that a step forward, the latest video, #ChangeTheConversation was conceptualised with the idea to make a witty statement about the more serious social evil of dowry," he notes.

Talking about retaining freshness in the narrative about a done-to-death topic such as dowry, Ghosh says that the major challenge was to make a subtle yet effective statement about a subject as hard-hitting as dowry.

"And, at the same time, we ensured that we didn't trivialise the issue. The campaign clearly shows an ideological difference between contemporary and old-school thinking, and through humour, manages to show the gaping holes in the dowry system. The bride and her family were kept out intentionally in order to highlight the fact that the change in perception was happening from the groom's side," says Ghosh.

After the video was released on March 8, a Twitter activity was executed around the concept of arranged marriage and dowry using #ChangeTheConversation.

The hashtag, claims the brand, trended all over India for over eight hours. Taking the engagement a notch higher, Biba intends to launch a 'Change Is Beautiful' website where opinions will be invited about the existing videos and users will be asked to tell us which other social evils they would like to change.

Powerful enough?

Our experts give a big thumbs-up to the new Biba campaign. However, its previous campaign continues to be the winner.

Jagdish Acharya, founder and creative head, Cut The Crap, appreciates the latest Biba campaign for staying on course and not let the brand meddle with it, or even allow a close-up of the product. He, however, feels that the current film lacks the edginess of the previous one for two reasons.

Jagdish Acharya

Gurbaksh Singh

Joono Simon

"Firstly, the old lady's looks and role are too benevolent to pose any resistance to change. Secondly, the change itself is a bit of overkill. It gets into the space of 'if only it could happen' rather than being in the zone of 'it could happen'. That said, it does leave you feeling good," he quips.

Acharya notes that while both the Biba films showcased the change in parents considering the context of arranged marriages, it is a bold move by the brand as its own consumer target group is a generation younger.

According to Gurbaksh Singh, chief creative technologist, Dentsu Webchutney, the video flows seamlessly and drives the message home.

"The treatment plays a key role in bringing out the message. With this, the older generation has been made a part of, even the harbinger of this change. Usually, older people are averse to change," Singh points out, though he feels that the build-up in the previous campaign was stronger.

Joono Simon, CEO and chief creative officer, Brave New World, feels that to leverage a social issue seems to be the easiest decision for marketing and agency teams. He believes that the trend of hopping on and off causes makes brands look opportunistic and dishonest unless backed by sustained effort post-campaign.

"Having said that, dowry is a social evil that needs to be talked about. Attempts like this are welcome for the fact that, at the very least, they could trigger off a conversation. This isn't an irrelevant issue and for this reason, the ad will get noticed," he says.

Simon adds though that unlike the previous campaign, the ending in this film is not clear. "Instead of asking for dowry, are we trying to create a new tradition of giving away stuff for charity? The ad would have had more impact if the woman was the one who stood up for herself and delivered the final line to resolve the issue," he says.

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