Saumya Tewari

Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?

In its latest campaign titled 'Respect Women', Havells categorically positions its range of domestic appliances as gender-neutral products.

Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?
Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?
Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?
Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?
Is the kitchen a woman's department? Are household chores not meant for men? If you just said yes, then the instant, witty retorts that Havells Appliances makes in its latest five-film campaign are pretty much targeted at you. And at those who need to be reminded about the difference between 'chutney' (condiment) and 'patni' (wife) or between an 'istree' (steam iron) and a 'stree' (woman).

In an attempt to promote its range of domestic appliances, the brand takes a humorous dig at those who subscribe to the idea that household chores are meant for women alone. The campaign urges viewers to change their attitude towards the women in their lives.

The products being advertised include: mixer grinder, juicer, iron, coffee maker and air-fryer (a device that helps one cook without using oil). All five films are in Hindi. The film that promotes the mixer has been made in Tamil as well.

According to Amer Jaleel, national creative director, Lowe Lintas and Partners, the agency that has created this campaign, the creative brief is a "co-evolved" one, that is, one that bears both, "functionality" as well as a "point of view".

The humourous, tongue-in-cheek, yet somehow socially relevant tack is not a new one for Havells; we've seen the brand go down a similar path in its previous ads. Recall the company's 'Hawa Badlegi' campaign (2013) that light-heartedly likened the breeze generated by Havells Fans (the product being advertised) to winds of change.

More recently, the company released a funny ad for Havells Wires; titled 'Villains', the film features Bollywood baddies Prem Chopra and Shakti Kapoor.

To Shriram Iyer, executive creative director at the agency, who has worked closely on the current campaign, the attitude of the people reprimanded in the ads reflects the "embarrassing reality" of our country. He rues the way women are stereotyped as "just homemakers."

"We wanted to turn this stereotype on its head and communicate that Havells' appliances are easy-to-use tools, which anyone can use, including men," he says, going on to explain that the agency is trying to break the "regressive mentality" that exists even in the most educated, urban households.

Produced by Offroad Films, the ads have been directed by Gauri Shinde of English Vinglish fame.

The ads will be on air through the IPL season. Well, this seems like a media plan that pretty much guarantees the campaign its desired share of male viewers. Havells India is one of the associate sponsors of the IPL.

Besides TV, the media mix includes radio, print, digital and point of sale.

Does the campaign antogonise men?

Our expert panel applauds the campaign for being socially relevant but wonders whether it might alienate the male consumer in the bargain. After all, he plays a crucial role in the decision making process as far the purchase of products from these segments is concerned. As some experts point out, in tier II and III towns, he is the sole decision maker.

Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?
Havells Appliances: A 'DIY' Lesson For Men?
To ND Badrinath, founding partner, Aqumena, a Mumbai-based marketing consultancy, the ads look a tad revengeful towards men. The campaign, he believes, will certainly catch the attention of women. "The recall value is likely to be high among women, because it plays to their aspirations. I'm not optimistic about its recall among men; they may sub-consciously reject it and shut it out of their memory," he says.

He wonders rhetorically: Do the men in the ads seem "converted"? Will they suddenly start respecting the women who snubbed them?

"The way the films end might up the brand's appeal among women but may alienate men," Badri cautions, "There should have been a moment at the end when the man recovers his balance, either with a humorous comeback or through some other creative device."

The "social cause" angle, he believes, has been brought into this campaign to serve as a mnemonic for a largely undifferentiated category of products.

Meanwhile, Suraja Kishore, executive planning director, McCann Mumbai, tells us that the light-hearted treatment of such a serious social issue is the biggest plus point of the campaign. "It is so easy to make a pulsating, revolutionary narrative for social issues; I like the way these ads have made the same point in a light manner," he says.

The product features, he feels, have been woven into the stories nicely. "I find it rushed," he adds, nevertheless, saying he would've enjoyed slightly lengthier plots. "I wish the brand team does some activation around this campaign. There are possibilities of doing some interesting media innovations," he suggests, saying the matrimony section in newspapers is a great place to start for some in-your-face satires.

Both our reviewers note that the brand has been consistent in its advertising efforts over the years. Havells, they say, has developed a "sensitive brand personality" across campaigns, one that the current campaign stays true to.

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