Aishwarya Ramesh

Gillette Venus' new spot attempts to celebrate women who 'hustle'

The new ad for Gillette Venus stars a sportswoman, a slam poet, a travel influencer and an actress. Here's how it tries to be different from other ads in the space.

Gillette Venus, the pink razor for women from the house of P&G, has launched its new campaign #WhatsYourRepeat. Created by Grey India, the campaign film is directed by Afshan Shaikh. It features professional badminton player Daman Raj, slam poet Barbie Rajput, travel influencer Srishti Tehri, and actress Ananya Panday. According to a press release, the campaign stems from the core insight that today's women love their everyday hustle. And, they associate the repeated practice needed to achieve perfection with the repeated action of shaving to achieve ‘perfect’ skin.

The campaign claims to celebrate real women and their stories. But, it can be argued that the women in the commercial exist and act in an urban setting. This may be potentially alienating to women audiences living in Tier II and Tier III cities, who are now increasingly coming into the fold and competing with their urban counterparts.

The ad features women from different professions, who choose to remove their body hair. It takes us through their journey, with shots of the products being put to use to shave skin that was already hairless to begin with. It can be argued that the women featured in the ad need to be (or are) more concerned about their muscles, rather than the hair on their skin. This is the argument that modern feminism makes - that body hair is natural and, therefore, must be accepted.

In India, advertising in the hair removal space has been fairly formulaic. Most ads feature a celebrity. The body positivity movement may be making a splash in the West, but it hasn’t quite caught on in India yet. The emphasis of these ads is always on using the product to ‘achieve’ a desirable look. Such ads do not talk about accepting the body in its natural form. Some notable brand ambassadors in this space, for Reckitt Benckiser's hair removal cream Veet, include Bollywood actresses Katrina Kaif, Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan.

For Gillette Venus, actress Deepika Padukone was a brand ambassador in the past. Recently, the brand signed on Chunky Panday's actress daughter Ananya.

Meanwhile, men aren’t left behind either. Recently, Veet made its entry in the male grooming segment, with the announcement of a hair removal cream for men – Veet Men. The brand created an ad campaign for the same, starring Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan.

An unlikely company made a strong statement about body hair in 2014. A Fastrack ad featured a woman with her arms raised over her head. Her body hair (armpit hair, to be precise) was visible. The ad was making a broader statement about taking pride in one's personality, and used the images, which were seen as 'shocking' at the time, to drive the point home.

Last year, Nike also took to Instagram to post a photograph of singer-songwriter Annahstasia Enuke with her underarm hair visible. It saw mixed reactions from users across social media.

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Big mood @annahstasia.

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Indian advertising, in the body hair removal space, still appears to be hell-bent on achieving a particular look, whereas the conversation is changing slowly, but surely, in other countries. D2C razor company Billie caused quite a stir by becoming the first brand to show body hair on women in a hair removal ad.

Billie also became the first brand to show women participating in 'No-Shave November', or Movember, and embracing their facial hair.

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