Ananya Pathak

Bosch out with 6 dishwasher spots with husbands, wives, maids, in-laws…

Voltas got there first. Now Bosch takes the dishwasher narrative ahead in 6 ads. Are they troll proof?

Almost a month back, when Tata Group’s Voltas Beko launched its first-ever digital film for dishwashers, it gained a lot of traction from netizens. The reason: It was the first ad for the appliance since the Coronavirus struck. However, all that was spoken were not praises.

Some pinpointed the absence of ‘men’ from the scene, even though the friendly video call between the women highlighted the division of work in their respective households. Others took offence at the brand’s ‘Tested by real moms’ slogan.

As journalist Faye D’Souza tweeted, the messaging of the ad appeared to be centred on the ‘woman of the house’, feeding into the stereotype that household duties are her responsibility.

In a written statement, Voltas Beko contested these claims, mentioning that, as a brand, it has always celebrated the spirit of womanhood in all its campaigns.

Cut to today…

Another brand from the segment – German conglomerate Bosch, which entered India with its range of home appliances in 2011, launched a series of digital ad films for its dishwasher. The timing is rather perfect, for the appliance which is otherwise considered a ‘luxury’, has never been so much in demand in India.

As families went into ‘house arrest’ when the Coronavirus-induced lockdowns were announced back in March, the manual task of washing the dishes added to the workload, in the absence of the house help. According to a Times of India report, the demand for dishwashers jumped by 70-80 per cent during this period.

While other brands in the category, like LG, Whirlpool, IFB, Hindware, among others, are also benefiting from the new-found relevance of the segment, BSH Home Appliances-owned Bosch took it upon itself to bust the myths pertaining to the appliance.

In the series of six ads, each with a reasonably assertive ending – ‘Hope is doubt ko Bosch ne clear kiya’, the campaign aims to educate consumers about dishwasher usage. It also highlights how it (the dishwasher) can be used in the most efficient manner.

Interestingly, first, by placing men in the kitchen (and, of course, the mother-in-law), the brand ticked the first checkbox – ‘sexism’, that Voltas Beko seemed to have missed in its campaign - 'Word of Mom!'.

Second, by highlighting that the appliance uses water at 70 degree Celsius, ensuring 99 per cent germ-free utensils, the brand has also covered the most important aspects of marketing/advertising in times of Corona – ‘hygiene’ and ‘immunity’

This ‘share the (kitchen) load’ messaging hasn’t, however, been a part of the segment’s ad copies for long. Earlier, when advertising wasn’t as woke as today, most brands easily slipped in women in print copies of the ads handling the machine.

1950 dishwasher ad
1950 dishwasher ad
1953 print ad for dishwasher
1953 print ad for dishwasher
1968 Christmas ad for dishwasher
1968 Christmas ad for dishwasher

Speaking about the campaign, Neeraj Bahl, MD and CEO, BSH Home Appliances, tells us that the brand and product category is largely targeted towards urban families (joint as well as nuclear). “Smaller and satellite towns, where access to cheaper labour is easy, is what we need to crack better,” he says.

Bahl says that Indian consumers have a huge mental block when it comes to automating dish cleaning. One of the biggest assumptions in the consumer’s mind is that dishwashers are not fit for Indian kitchens, utensils, and cooking habits.

“Hence, we had to push them to change this mindset. This campaign is, thus, aimed to address and mitigate myths and assumptions regarding dishwashers, and how the product is suited for Indian kitchens and vessels too.”

Neeraj Bahl
Neeraj Bahl

Talking about the demand of the product in the current market, Bahl mentions that the consumers are more inclined towards hygiene and cleanliness. “Since the lockdown, we have witnessed a surge in the demand for dishwashers, and we expect to continue seeing this surge. In fact, we have already started receiving a lot of enquiries and booking for dishwashers.”

He also states that the brand has seen 20 per cent YTD, as compared to 2019. “The fear of the virus has forced consumers to keep their domestic help at bay, and this has led categories, such as dishwashers, to grow by 250 per cent over the same time last year.”

Bahl also shares that dishwashers made up just 5-6 per cent of BSH's sales, prior to COVID.

He says that the demand for the product does differ from market to market across the country. “Markets like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai have an all-time high demand. Whereas in markets like Ahmedabad, Pune Chandigarh and Kolkata, the demand is still at a nascent stage, from a washing machine and refrigerator standpoint."

Conceptualised by MissMalini Entertainment, a venture-backed, positive-only new media network dedicated to entertaining, connecting and empowering young Indians, the campaign - ‘Indian Kitchen ka Dishwasher’ is live across all social media platforms.

Industry speaks:

So, is the campaign troll-free?

Navin Kansal, chief creative officer, 21N78E Creative Labs

The sign off ‘Hope is doubt ko Bosch ne clear kiya’ is a clear signal of intent by Bosch to lead the conversation on category education. It aims to bust myths around dishwasher usage – be it with respect to hand-washing versus dishwashing, removing stains, accommodating a wide variety of utensils, etc.

Navin Kansal
Navin Kansal

To that extent, yes the films work, although some of the performances could have been better and more authentic. The spot featuring the maid does stand out for handling a sensitive topic (what could have been easily misconstrued as someone whose services could soon become redundant), with grace and wit.

Lubna Khan, brand strategist

Demand for dishwashers has increased massively this year, and Bosch is clearly aiming to get a large share of the demand through its advertising campaign. The films lean more towards functional messaging, explaining the benefits of a dishwasher and busting some myths. This is an understandable strategy since the penetration of dishwashers in Indian households is still very low. A laudable attempt has been made to have a deeper conversation beyond the functional, by looking at the cultural dynamics playing out in the Indian kitchen.

Lubna Khan
Lubna Khan

Many of the films are around changing gender norms and expectations, especially around the participation of men in kitchen and household chores. This is a valid cultural space to explore, especially in current times. Interestingly, one film tries to look at the relationship with the domestic helper, but it feels flat and superficial. There is a missed opportunity there. Beyond the intent, I think the work would have benefitted from more charm and humour in the execution.

Campaign Credits:

Creative Team: Rubeen Karkaria and Prernan Parma
Business Team: Mike Melli and Bhavik Kothari
Director: Shaun Kolah

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