Shreyas Kulkarni

Don’t make her choose home over work because you can’t share the load, says Ariel in a new spot

P&G CMO and BBDO CCO speak on the ninth ‘Share the Load’ campaign from the laundry detergent giant.

The pain of regret, especially with your career – a job offer turned down, a job posting turned down, a dream work trip refused, a career given up – is tolerable when you’re young.

Over time, this pain’s potency intensifies and turns itself into a vial of poison, slowly contaminating you every single day. By the time you realise this, you’ve lost your zest, depleted that spunk and regret has enveloped you, never letting it go.

Ariel’s new Share The Load campaign reflects on the origins of this pain when Aisha tells her boss she plans to reject a week-long training program that’ll take her to Singapore because her team won’t be able to hold the fort when she is gone for seven days.

Her statement has merit because while she knocked off stuff at work before a meeting, she was on a call explaining to her husband where he could find the necessary stuff at home. Aisha’s boss, who'd come to her desk during the call, reassured her that the team would learn to take care of stuff and shoulder the load as she did.

The team here is Aisha's husband Shekhar who'd be in charge of their daughter Tia during the Singapore trip. It is important to note how Aisha says 'team' to her boss because the call was still on and she probably wondered if his ego would take a hit upon hearing the truth.

"This is our ninth year doing it. We wouldn’t be at it with passion, energy, and gusto if it was not good for business."
P&G CMO Mukta Maheshwari

We see Shekhar caught aback on hearing Aisha and her boss; he clearly understood who this team was. Many would expect him to get angry and the two to fight later that night. No such thing happens because Shekhar was not a bad guy; he was only unaware of how his actions affect his wife and her career.

Shekhar is not a wishful character sketch but evidence of an attitudinal change among men on household chores.

“When we started Share The Load nine years ago, 75% of men said laundry is a women’s job, and when we got together as a team to look at what is the conversation around this topic today, only 25% of the men said the same thing. That’s great progress,” states Mukta Maheshwari, chief marketing officer, P&G, and vice president, fabric care, P&G Indian subcontinent.

Started in 2015, Ariel’s Share The Load is an ad-led campaign which intends to democratise household chores and do away with the years-long conditioning that it is a woman’s job.

She points to a statistic about how over 70% of working women are unable to fully disconnect from home while at work, and it ultimately leads to their inability to reach their maximum potential. This data point was the seed that germinated into the ad for this year’s campaign.

Omnicom-owned advertising agency BBDO has been the force behind Share The Load campaigns since its inception, and each year, the agency picks on aspects of life and how they influence the sharing of load in households.

“We (P&G and BBDO) look at what’s going on in society, we do a lot of social listening, we look at comments on earlier campaigns, comment sections are confession sessions (great for gaining insights)…” explains BBDO chairman and chief creative officer Josy Paul on how they come up with the ideas.

But, hearing the statistic Maheshwari spoke of, it was pertinent to ask if a data point led to the creative idea for this year’s campaign. “It is important to have data points because they validate everything; we can’t just have mujhe lag raha hai,” answers Josy Paul.

He says that an idea can come from a data point, or a data point can come from a confession or something that happened during a listening session.

(L-R) Mukta Maheshwari and Josy Paul
(L-R) Mukta Maheshwari and Josy Paul

The nearly two-and-a-half-minute ad is the ninth in Share The Load’s history, and interestingly, none of them are linked, and there is no easter egg or overlapping characters; it’s very unlike today’s shows and movies where shared universes have become de rigueur.

Maheshwari says it is all about the present-day context and quoted one of Josy Paul’s classic witticisms: “Content is king, context is King Kong.”

She was clear if the look and feel and a bit of the narrative need to change because of what the context demands, that is what they will do.

For all the efforts Share The Load has taken to ease the burden on women regarding household chores, one must check the effect it has had on the bottom lines of Ariel.

“This is our ninth year doing it. We wouldn’t be at it with passion, energy, and gusto if it was not good for business,” states the CMO, revealing one of P&G’s fundamental beliefs on brand building, “What is a force for good is a force for growth.”

She says the campaign's impact of business reflects in the love the brand receives from its consumers, the consideration and better affinity they enjoy because today, consumers expect brands to have a personality.

“We don’t sell functional solutions; we also stand for something. And with our size, we believe it’s our responsibility to use that voice to undo the years and years of conditioning,” she remarks.

And while they go about it year after year, there is a risk of people becoming desensitised to the campaign because they know it’s an annual thing. Josy Paul disagrees and counters, “People are curious. They want to know if there is something Ariel has never offered us before but is relevant.”

What was relevant in this ad was seeing Shekhar not only wanting to change and do the laundry but also asking Aisha to teach him. That’s two stones hit with one ad. 

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