We spoke to Pankaj Duhan, chief marketing officer, RB South Asia - Health about #OrgasmInequality, the brand's influencer led social media effort.
A crucial and longstanding social issue, gender-equality, is mostly associated with topics like equality in opportunities, pay and responsibilities, among other things. Contraceptive brand Durex, from Reckitt Benckiser (RB), brings to the fore another conversation - equality in something that mostly happens behind closed doors, in the privacy of the bedroom - sex.
In its latest campaign, crafted by Havas, #OrgasmInequality, Durex India suggests that 70 per cent of women in India don't always have an orgasm during sex and fake it most of the time. Hence, its new condoms, Mutual Climax.
"The gap is rooted in a certain reality and we think a meaningful conversation should be had. Mutual Climax condoms speed her up and make him last. We realised that this campaign should and would do what sex has at its core - help people #ComeTogether," says Pankaj Duhan, CMO, RB South Asia - Health.
The brand roped in influencers like Swara Bhaskar, Kaneez Surka, Kenny Sebastian, and Pooja Bedi to share their POVs which were supplemented with - #OrgasmInequality, #IfakedItToo, #FakeOrgasm, #OrgasmsDecodedWithPoojaBedi, and #DurexMutualClimax. BuzzOne Influencer Marketing got Category B and mass influencers to participate in the conversations to amplify reach. "With #OrgasmInequality Durex has been successful in initiating conversations once again. It has garnered tremendous amplification online and proves the successful role of influencers in communicating a brand’s message responsibly," says Sanjay Vasudeva founder and CEO of BuzzOne.
As part of the campaign, Pooja Bedi discusses ways to get past the inequality. Recall that Bedi, who is making a case for Durex's drive for equality in the bedroom today, was the face of rival brand KamaSutra's ahead-of-its-time campaign in the 1990s. The steamy spot that featured Bedi and Marc Robinson was one of Alyque Pamdamsee's creations for Lintas and went down in advertising history as "the condom ad that the client found 'too sexy'".
'Orgasms', in India, sits among the hush-hush topics like menstruation etc. Putting the topic on social media bore risks and the brand did face some backlash via #BoycottDurex. So, was the RB team apprehensive?
Duhan responds, "We had no inhibitions. However, we were sensitive to the situation and found creative solutions and ways to have a conversation. The conversation of inequality of orgasms is not about pointing fingers at any gender; it is an awakening of sorts."
Also, there was the risk of featuring faces like Swara Bhaskar, who have been trolled in the past for topics somewhat familiar to this campaign. "We chose people who have an honest and genuine voice and were willing to lend it to the topic of orgasm equality," he says.
Speaking on the choice of digital as the medium against traditional, Dhuhan explains, "The digital medium allows dialogue. Most of our content is created to attract opinions, conversations and intentions to share and discuss."
In terms of Durex's advertising, while TV plays a major role, the brand gives a lot of importance to the digital medium. "We make an effort to be where the people are and where they can engage. And it's important to us how they interplay with each other and with us. As a nation, we need to talk more about sex," Duhan signs off.
Turning to experts:
Megha Jain Sadhwani, senior vice president, Dentsu Impact, says "It's pretty smart - Durex picked up a large societal topic but created within it a conversation around something extremely relevant and related to the product. Condoms, as a category, don't fit naturally with many social issues. Also, as a category that has historically been focused on men, this is a good way of bringing women into the conversation."
"Durex, as a brand, isn't conformist. The tone has always been quirky, bold and gutsy and thus, collaborating with influencers who embody the same attitude works. Swara (Bhaskar) is known for speaking her mind, and with the recent conversations around her masturbation scene(in the Hindi movie Veere Di Wedding), it's a relevant fit. Her scene in the film brought to the fore a bold topic, shifting focus to the woman in a traditionally male-focused conversation and this is exactly what Durex is also trying to do," she adds.
"This is not a campaign for the masses, rather, it targets a much smaller segment of society (at least right now), focusing on a young audience that is open and has no qualms talking about sex. You would find them on the digital medium. Also, digital gives a brand immense scope to open up a dialogue and build on conversations, which traditional mediums do not," Sadhwani explains.
Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and co-founder, White Rivers Media, says, "In a category traditionally dominated by suggestive imagery, language and machoism, Durex has been focussing on the physical and emotional aspects of sex. It reflects in #OrgasmInequality, which isn't necessarily about gender inequality, but provides a mouthpiece to a traditionally taboo topic."
Gandhi adds, "The celebrities used are digital divas, popular for voicing opinions on topics which others might shun for fear of stirring up controversy. Millennials relate to their rants, digs and opinions which makes them apt. The campaign thought, visuals, language and choice of influencers hints at the brand's wish to reach millennials, specifically females, which is not the primary TG, but can influence decisions. Only digital can accurately tap that audience. Print/TV would expand the reach, but not relevance. The campaign seems to be led by engagement strategy and clearly helped Durex initiate conversations with females in the form of #IFakedItToo, unlikely earned media for a condom brand."
According to Carlton D'Silva - CEO and CCO - Hungama Digital Services, the campaign, though a good match for all mediums, would be more acceptable on social/digital because of the broader mindset of the audiences there.
"Unlike most brands, Durex has used its product well to take up an issue that is being misconstrued as a cause. It's a product innovation that can also speak about equality (albeit in bed). This is a product campaign that doubles up as cause-led advertising and why not when it helps put the brand in a better light with both genders," D'Silva says.
"It's a conscious choice of influencers that appeal to the audience that have a broader mindset. Most of the influencers used are people that are pretty well-known in the new-age content space (aka OTT) and this is the audience they predominantly want to appeal to," he adds.
Mandeep Malhotra, CEO, The Social Street, doesn't view it as cause-marketing. "Sex is performed by two people (usually); therefore, equality and pleasure for both are essential. Durex being true for usage surely has a great initiative to bring the discussion and expression out in the open," Malhotra says.
"Using multiple influencers is a good way of starting a conversation. They all have similar experiences and scripts. The content would have been more interesting if they had different scripts or chose their own words," he adds.
On the choice of the medium, Malhotra opines, "It's the law of economies. Also, the penetration split in the younger audience, from a content point of view, could have been a reason. The point is primarily to be able to start a conversation. Print/TV are non-responding, one-way mediums."
Bobby Pawar: Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Havas
Manas Lahiri: General Manager
Arjun Jetly: Creative Director
Debanik Chaudhury: SCD - Art
Sanjay Chakraborty: ACD - Art
Shubhrojyoti Roy: Executive Planning Director
Rohit Rajpal: Digital Strategist
Sugato Roy: Vice President - Films & Production
Shweta Raina: Associate Vice President (Account Management)
Naman Puri: Associate Account Director
Eric Massey: Associate Account Director (Digital)