From its memorable 'Dhara, Dhara, Shudh Dhara' and 'Jalebi' ads, to now standing for a more egalitarian society, this cooking oil has traversed the distance between functional and progressive advertising.
Dhara, the cooking oil brand's new ad film - #ZaraSaBadlaav - takes a stand against the societal dogmas associated with a girl's parents living with her at her in-laws'. While a dominant portion of the ad deals with changing the existing societal principle of how this would not be a "suitable" situation, the film closes with a brand message promoting a change in the consumption of cooking oil. The 45-second long film ends with a message about how only a minuscule amount of oil is required by an average person daily.
'Jab maa-beta saath reh sakte hai, maa-beti kyu nahi?' and 'Kyuki sirf 30 gm tel chahiye khana healthy aur tasty banane ke liye.' are the two messages. Both the ideas are unified in the call for change, #ZaraSaBadlaav.
While many brands tried and successfully tested it in the past, whacking stereotypes is a new trial for Dhara. BIBA, the Indian fashion brand's ad - 'Change the Convention #ChangeIsBeautiful' took on the age-old patriarchal tradition of a boy and his family visiting the girl's home for a matrimonial match. Similarly, Prega News' 'Your Second Home' took on Post-Partum depression for workplace moms. Flipkart's 'Penguin Dads' shows dads taking up the stereotypical mom-roles. Ginger, a clothing line by Lifestyle, cracks the whip at the stereotyped female body image in its #Imperfectlyperfect campaign.
We at afaqs!, Spoke to Brijesh Jacob, chief creative technologist, DDB Mudra Group, the agency which crafted the ad film, to find out about the shift from the original 'Dhara, Dhara, Shudh Dhara' and 'Jalebi' ads to #ZaraSaBadlaav.
"Art imitates life. There is a lot of conversation around empowerment in the country right now. New changes, thought processes; you know that's happening. There is a lot of advertising about looking forward; looking positive. We also decided to step into this mood of the country that is now looking at things differently. Whether there is a career choice, family, sexual partners, life partners et al, it is happening across themes. Dhara, despite making one of the most memorable ads, the ad itself, is losing relevance now. To be relevant, you have to talk about what's happening now. That's when we decided to make it a bit more relevant," Jacob says.
Given the trend of making ads centred on progressive ideas, was it a challenge to find something new?
"There are lots of stories that are happening. What is more important as advertisers and brands and agencies is that we must decide whether it is the right story or is it the right fit for the brand. The call we need to take is - is it really true and does it make sense? The problem is in blindly trying to follow the trend," Jacob says.
What about the connect between the ad's message and brand message? Could another brand, for example, a chocolate brand, fit in the place of Dhara?
"Can another product like chocolate or another consumer product own the idea? Yes, of course it can. But it is the different styles and the settings that make the fit. The ad shows two mothers in a kitchen and there is food and cooking. Nobody has done it and we own that space. The setting is specific for a food brand, for example, rice, oil, masala and similar items could replace it," Jacobs says.
The ad film is a part of a longer campaign and includes slightly longer films and shorter 15-second films.
Tulika Sinha, brand manager-Dhara, Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable Pvt Ltd, says, "We wanted to be more relatable to our consumer. The previous Dhara ads haven't been on similar lines; we have been focussing on the product. Choosing this narrative was based on something that drives the industry that is the consumer. Our consumers are evolving. Accordingly, we are also measuring the consumer on similar lines," says Sinha.
"The challenge is to come up with something relatable, innovative and adaptable to the consumer. Here there are two changes - the societal change and the change in the consumption. Today's consumer is aware and we had to be honest with it. We had to be honest with both the changes (societal and consumption). We are just asking for a small change which would go on to be a larger shift. One leads to another, that's how we planned it. We aim to be more into awareness and education of consumers," Sinha says while speaking about the challenges in generating new campaigns.
"The ad is progressive, for sure; it wants the consumer to change. But the change it wants is in two ways. One is in the perception of relationships and the other is the way we consume oil. So, when you have two messages, needless to say, one message will get weaker. The mother staying with the daughter is a fresh take, but the brand message of consuming less oil is diluting it. 'Zara sa Badlav' is a good idea and has an emotional appeal too. The progressive stand the brand has taken will make the brand stand out in the clutter. But the message of consuming less oil will not catch attention. And with better actors, the film would have been more powerful," says Tamanna Virmani, AVP and senior creative director, ADK Fortune, an advertising agency.
Speaking about Dhara's attempt at a progressive stand in this ad film, Bikram Bindra, vice-president and strategic planning head-Delhi, Grey Group, says "It is always refreshing to see something beyond just the functional with brands and in the case of staples, this seems to be the only way to exist. Tea, coffee, salt, oil, and even washing powders have such parity at the product level that a purposive stance can be the only way out of the proverbial 'sea of sameness'. The best part of our society is that there is the potential for a progressive conversation around every corner. So, even though this seems like a trivial matter, it drives home a crisp commentary on our deeply entrenched codes of patriarchy."
"The link with the product is tenuous, but such purpose-driven work should honestly not even burden itself with that. The large thought of a 'small change' gets established beautifully and for me, that is a win. Besides, the brand very cleverly retains existing brand assets like the memorable jingle and the product window treatment, so you know this is a Dhara spot," Bindra says while commenting on the connect between the brand message and the ad's message.