Sunit Roy

"Ethnic wear, as a category, suffers from certain stereotypes": Gunjan Soni, Myntra

And, breaking away from such stereotypes once again is Myntra's ethnic wear brand Anouk's latest ad film from its 'Bold is Beautiful' series, in which a married woman moves away from the expected and makes bold choices when it comes to her career, as well as her wardrobe.

So, here's the fifth offering from Anouk's 'Bold is Beautiful' series. Titled 'The Move', the film is about the challenges that a professional married woman faces today.

"The modern Indian woman has a strong voice and opinion, and she takes her choices seriously. This forms the background of the 'Bold is Beautiful' idea. We decided to tell real stories about today's Indian women who wear their choices on their sleeves, and deal with the consequences with beauty, style, panache, and a dash of boldness," says Gunjan Soni, chief marketing officer and head, International Brands Business, Myntra, while referring to Anouk's recently launched ad film 'The Move'.

"Ethnic wear, as a category, suffers from certain stereotypes": Gunjan Soni, Myntra
The film, which released on August 19, 2016, is a captivating narrative that presents the audience with a storyline that delves into the life of a married woman and her career aspirations by challenging the archetypal notion that a husband's career always takes precedence over that of his wife's.

'The Move', which is the fifth film in the Anouk - 'Bold is Beautiful' series, has been directed by Shamik Sen Gupta and produced by Hectic Content. The only digital campaign, which is being extensively promoted across digital platforms using various channels such as Facebook, YouTube, and other digital networks, aims to break established norms set by society for women, and highlights the fact that wearing ethnic doesn't mean being safe, bland, and lacking character.

Speaking about the ad film, Gupta, who is also creative director at Hectic Content, says that the campaign is based on a strongly resonating insight into the evolving work and professional lives of Indian women, and is, therefore, extremely topical in 2016. "Anouk, as a brand has a strong point of view about emancipated women. It recognises their independent choices and champions their bold moves. In this campaign, Anouk questions the stereotypical position of the man being the primary working member of a family, whereby all career-related choices are driven by him. But, an Anouk woman considers her career as equally important, and is, therefore, unwilling to compromise," he says.

The film is about Pratima, an editor, who has found a job in Delhi, and who tries to convince her husband to move with her. But, Ajay, her husband, exclaims that he is up for a promotion and requests her to stay back stating that wives usually live where their husbands dwell. By the end of the film, Pratima decides to pursue her new career opportunity and move, conveying the message that married women can explore career opportunities and follow their dreams, even if it calls for relocating to another city. She leaves for Delhi in a stunning blue Anouk tunic, and a palazzo. Theatre actors Shreya Dhanwantary and Vijay Verma play the roles of Pratima and Ajay.

"Ethnic wear, as a category, suffers from certain stereotypes": Gunjan Soni, Myntra
"Ethnic wear, as a category, suffers from certain stereotypes. Anouk's intent is to give character and attitude to the brand as ethnic wear that is bold, vibrant, and stylish, even edgy at times," says Soni.

Launched in 2013, Anouk, a contemporary ethnic wear brand from Myntra's fashion portfolio, celebrates a woman, her existence, beauty, and most importantly, her freedom. Its range of apparel includes anarkalis, sarees, kurtas, skirts, tops, and palazzos in a variety of fabrics and techniques. The ethnic wear brand has previously released four ad films, which dealt with very diverse issues - The Visit (same sex relationship), The Wait (standing up to eve teasing), The Whispers (single parenting), and The Calling (pregnancy at the work place), the last featuring Bollywood star Radhika Apte.

Commenting on the ideation of the campaign, Soni says, "Anouk's campaigns have always exemplified how the Indian woman can voice her opinion and craft her own destiny. The fifth film deals with a very real issue that a lot of couples face today - what happens to a woman's career after marriage? This particular story, like the earlier ones, clearly demonstrates the attitude of the brand while celebrating the modern Indian woman and the choices she makes for herself."

Soni informs that the campaigns helped the brand earn great revenues. "We have seen a positive rub-off of the campaigns on brand revenues. The campaigns have definitely helped carve a unique identity for the brand. Consumers are able to recognise communication from Anouk as it really stands out from the clutter. And, of course, the themes of our films challenge stereotypes and status quo, hence, force consumers to think," she informs.

Agreeing with her, Gupta says, "With every campaign of Anouk, there is a strong resonance with the sentiments of young Indian women. Social media is abuzz with positive comments and discussions around the brand's point of view; consumers have shared personal stories that reflect the same reality."

Industry Speak

We asked our experts if this sorry situation of 'only a wife has to sacrifice' still exists in the urban markets and this is what they had to say.

"Ethnic wear, as a category, suffers from certain stereotypes": Gunjan Soni, Myntra
"Ethnic wear, as a category, suffers from certain stereotypes": Gunjan Soni, Myntra
Pooja Jauhari, chief executive officer, The Glitch, a digital agency, says, "Content wise, does this situation still exist? I'm sure it does, it may not be a reality for many of us, but it does still exist. While our generation thrives on equality career wise, and definitely relationship wise, gender roles are in a constant flux."

She adds, "The expectation is 'obviously the wife will move for her husband and not always the other way round.' I may not personally agree with it, but it's a reflection of our society at large. Will it connect? It just may."

Madhura Haldipur, creative lead, copy, DigitasLBI, a digital agency from the house of Publicis.Sapient, says, "Apart from the niggling issue that hubby dearest didn't find a better time to bring this up with his wife, there's not much wrong with the principal concept of the film. Honestly, I'm not sure if it connects to the masses that shop at Myntra, but it does talk to the Anouk woman."

She adds, "The brand has consciously tried to set it in the urban milieu, with protagonists portraying a modern mindset (notice how she doesn't wear dangling gold earrings or 'Ek chutki sindoor')."

Good or bad execution?

Jauhari says, "In terms of the execution, I would have liked to see a more emotional transformation of the husband over the course of the film. His realisation was, I think, as important as her stand. However, the film even in its current narrative does convey its message successfully. The casting, too, worked well."

On the other hand, Haldipur says, "Her internal dichotomy could've been downplayed, which would have helped make the film shorter and sharper. But, great casting, I think, since there were moments when the actors could have easily been carried away. And, with feminism as a running theme for most categories, this might just get the attention it's seeking."