Leo Burnett's new ad for Iodex takes the pain relief narrative forward - the brand now has a higher purpose.
Not very long ago, BBDO's 'Share the Load' campaign for P&G's detergent brand Ariel encouraged men to do the laundry, a household chore that's traditionally been considered to be a woman's 'department'. GSK Consumer Healthcare's pain relief balm Iodex, in an interesting new spot ‘Thodi Himmat, Thoda Iodex', makes a similar point; this time around, the wife - a home maker - tries to do her bit to share the financial burden, something a lot of households believe is a man's job.
Although the new ad by Iodex has those familiar visuals of a woman (Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar) in pain and her husband applying Iodex to her waist, there is a difference. Iodex has flipped the 'Share the Load' concept in this ad. Aside from being a housewife, Bhaskar is also a Bharatanatyam teacher in the ad and while teaching her students, she sprains her back. Her husband inquires as to why she needs to take on the stress of managing the household chores and teaching dance, to which she replies, 'Jab ye chhath hum dono ke sar pe hai, toh loan sirf tumhare sar pe kyun ho?' And lovingly the husband applies balm to her waist with a smile.
The ad has been conceptualised by Leo Burnett, produced by Prodigious and directed by Bhavesh Kapadia.
Talking about injecting freshness into a tried and tested visual template, that has pretty much become 'category code' of sorts, Rajdeepak Das, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia, says, "More than the visual, the thought is important. People should not see it as - ok once again there is a man and a woman with the same visuals. Of course it is not new, but why he is applying balm to his wife's waist is important. He is appreciating what she has done. A husband applying Iodex/ Moov to his wife's waist is what most of the brands will do, but the story of why a woman is helping her husband here, that is more important. My story ends where the wife says, 'Jab ye chhath hum dono ke sar pe hai, toh loan sirf tumhare sar pe kyun ho?' My film is done... Over. Otherwise it is a regular film."
This is the first time though, that an ad from the quick-relief balm category is talking about gender equality.
About why it was important to get gender equality into the script, Das says, "It is not about - you have the pain and apply Iodex. It is about why you are in pain. You can look at lot of segments where the brands show gender equality in a chocolate or jewellery commercial. What does chocolate or jewellery have to do with gender equality? Nothing. But when you work hard to be equal in a society like this and talk about thoda mehnat, thoda himmat aur thoda Iodex, it comes together. You have to work harder for equality. When you work hard, you will feel the pain and when you feel the pain, you will apply Iodex."
One would also notice that Bhaskar's saree colour matches the brand's packaging. Das tells afaqs! that it was done on purpose, but consumers don't often notice these things.
We asked our experts for their take on this reverse 'share the load' stance that the brand has taken and whether it is no longer enough to say it just relieves pain? Has it become mandatory for products - even those known for specific functional benefits - to stand for a larger purpose?
Deepak Singh, chief creative officer, The Social Street, says, "There is no rule in advertising. In middle-class families, all housewives want their husbands to share the load with them, so the connect is fine, is what I feel."
Delna Avari, a management consultant, says, "The reality is that brands which stand for a larger purpose do outperform those that don't; both financially and in longevity. This is true for Indian MNC brands like Tata and Amul or global ones like Dove and Nike. Stating just specific functional benefits in such a generic category is not adequate to stay differentiated or relevant or build strong consumer advocacy. Business growth and transformation efforts will have greater success if integrated with purpose, but they must stay the course with longer-term intent to get the maximum benefit."
Ashok Lalla, an independent digital business advisor, says, "It's increasingly common to have working couples in real life and advertising expectedly reflects this reality. This film, however, is a break from the stereotype of the urban corporate career woman and so is refreshing in a sense, with a potentially wider appeal and resonance beyond the metros."
In the pain-relief balm category in our market, the visual of a loving husband applying balm to his wife's waist/back is not new. In this ad too, despite the fresh positioning (equal financial burden on both spouses), the brand has stuck to this all-too-familiar 'balm application' visual.
Do you think India will see a pain-relief balm ad without this visual anytime soon? Comment on this visual tool - how long do you think this tried and tested visual is going to stay in the balm segment?
Singh says, "There are enough visuals which will always be similar. I think it's ok if someone repeats the visuals for good and if the script demands it. Sometimes the creative team needs to keep in mind the client's requirements."
Avari says, "We are seeing brands push the boundary on communication, but some category-specific practices are not going anywhere too soon, as much as one would like them to. It is a case of adding something new within the confines of the familiar; be bold, yet play it safe. A reflection of India in many ways!"
Lalla says, "Product demo (particularly to cue Iodex's quick acting properties) is important in this category. I see no reason to move away from a demo regardless of the changing creative storylines."
Client: GSK Consumer Healthcare
Creative Agency: Leo Burnett India
Chief Executive Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia & Publicis Communications India: Saurabh Varma
Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia: Rajdeepak Das
Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia: Dheeraj Sinha
Executive Creative Director: Amit Nandwani
Creative Team: Mukul Upadhyay, Kaushik Datta, Puran Choudhry
President - North: Samir Gangahar
Executive Vice President: Saraswathi Laxman
Planning Team: Aditi Jain
Account management: Alankrita Narula, Anooshka Mathur
Production House: Prodigious
Head - Prodigious India: Vandana Watsa
Producers: Anup Das, Rajdeep Wahi
Film Director: Bhavesh Kapadia
Mediums used: TV, Digital
A look at some of the Iodex ads from the past: