Ashee Sharma & Saumya Tewari

Shazé Crusades Against Labels

In its new campaign, titled 'Join the Labellion', lifestyle brand Shazé makes a bold statement by challenging political and social ethos.

"They are against boys in pink, against men who love men, against privacy, freedom and animal lovers, and we are against people who label," says a voice-over in a bold and unapologetic video by lifestyle brand Shazé.

Conceived by Grey Group India, the campaign - titled 'Join the Labellion' - comes in the wake of the recent bans on porn sites, beef, the rage against open letters and similar events, thus making it more of a rhetoric than a promotional video. Shazé - in its second year of existence - intends to make a bold statement with this video, with fashion and lifestyle in the backdrop.

Shazé Crusades Against Labels
On the need for such positioning, Dheeraj Sinha, chief strategy officer, Grey Group - South and South East Asia, says, "The mood of our times is such that brands need to have a point of view on what's going on in the society. This allows us to place a fashion/luxury brand such as Shazè into something deeper and meaningful. The line-up of Shazè adds to this uniqueness and sense of bold self-expression."
Shazé Crusades Against Labels
Shazé Crusades Against Labels
Clearly, the brand is leaving no stone unturned to achieve this transformation. The stark visuals used in the video, released on the digital platform, are aimed at Shazé's core TG which includes people above 25 years of age who "have a strong sense of individuality, are experimental and seek quality."
Shazé Crusades Against Labels
Shazé Crusades Against Labels
While advertising is often considered a window to the society and culture of a country, India, with all its complexities, has responded to it in random and impulsive ways. With freedom of expression becoming an increasingly sensitive issue in society, some of the most unexpected and passionate debates have been sparked off by ads that presented different perspectives on self-expression. Whether or not an ad achieves the socio-cultural aim it sets out to, the 'rebel' formula certainly guarantees a brand its 'two minutes of fame' (or notoriety).

Samrat Zaveri, managing director, Shazé, notes that while being a rebel itself may be a 'label', the brand communication goes beyond it. "Through this campaign we want to bring to light the futility of labels - the growing need to stay true to ourselves and stand our ground. It is a motive that is finding increasing relevance today," he states.

The campaign has been slightly tweaked for the print and outdoor mediums, where the creatives have been designed based on the insight that 'when people label someone, they unknowingly label themselves'. For instance, the ad featuring celebrity hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani reads: 'If I'm manly, you're sexist'. Others stand out with similarly irreverent statements like - 'If I'm dark, you're racist' and 'If I'm a slut, you are a prude'.

Shazé claims to be a premium lifestyle and gifting brand with stores across India. It has products across categories such as jewellery, perfume, candles, scarves, watches, wrist bands, home décor, silverware, leather ware and religious idols. Shazé serves as a platform that curates creative works in the fashion and lifestyle segment from all across the world, as opposed to select brands.

Zaveri informs that the brand sources its collection mainly from Europe. "Consumers buy from all over the world as they believe in uniqueness. In order to fulfil this need for unique products, we source exclusive products depending upon the specialty and the USP of the area," he says.

Apparently, it is this belief in its products that inspired the brand to talk 'against labels'. According to Zaveri, the model has been successful and even though Shazé does not operate in the luxury space, consumers perceive it as a luxury brand.

"We create products that appeal to the major segment of the market. Today, brands are about self-expression. They are not built solely by fulfilling consumer's need, but also by creating one. We have a positioning that appeals to consumers from around the country, such as the conscious North Indian or the aspirational West Indian," he states.

Bold Talk?

Shazé Crusades Against Labels
Shazé Crusades Against Labels
Gopa Kumar, vice president, Isobar India, finds the execution of the campaign "unconventional and bold" and that, he says, will help in getting the brand noticed. Kumar is also impressed with the timing of the ad, but the one thing that is missing, according to him, is the call to action. "The ad does evoke curiosity, but the last mile is missing. What is Shazé and why are they taking this stand remains unanswered," he rues.

On using the oft-repeated rebellion theme, he opines that while it has been exploited by a number of brands, what matters is the execution. Kumar cites the example of premium alcohol brands "which also play on the same lines, but come across as distinct each time."

Rajiv Dhingra, founder and CEO, WAT Consult, believes that because the ad touches upon the social undercurrent of bans, biases and cultural stereotypes that exist in the country, it will attract viewers' attention. However, he agrees with Kumar about the lack of necessary information about the brand that will make someone want to buy it.

"I think it's a great piece of content and it could have been for any brand. I could easily see Cafe Cuba fit into this or even a new-age clothing brand like Wrogn. It does not do anything for Shazé specifically," he points out.

To Dhingra, Shazé largely has a sterling silver product line and, therefore, he recommends a more positive approach for the brand. He proposes 'Silver Lining' rather than 'labellion' as the approach. "No matter what situation you are in, there is always a silver lining. A tough day at work, but when I come back home and see my three-year-old son, that's a silver lining!" he says, explaining his idea.

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