The category is notorious for raunchy subtleties. Here is how it might be coming to an end.
If you put Jim Sarbh’s latest collab with Calvin Klein in the context of other international men’s innerwear brands advertising in India, a narrative overhaul appears to be taking over the category.
Calvin Klein in partnership with Sarbh unveiled a new ad, devoid of any sexual innuendos, where the actor is seen just cosily being himself in the comfort of his undies. This is a little different from what we've come to expect of the category.
For years, advertisements for men's underwear in India have relied on overly sensual insinuations, featuring women drooling over men clad in undergarments. The titillating trope has somehow been consistently repeated within the category, and we have the receipts.
Take Amul Macho, for example. Remember that ‘Yeh Toh Bada Toing Hai’ commercial that raised quite a few eyebrows due to its explicit visuals? Or how about Lux Cozi’s more recent ad featuring Varun Dhawan and a few ladies fascinated by his choice of underwear?
For all practical purposes, the two ads are separated by nearly two decades and tonnes of other brands, all sharing identical undertones.
With new players and some international brands, there appears to be a discernible change in the overall comms strategy. Jockey’s ad, for instance, bases itself on the comfort and quality of its products. Dixcy Scott is turning to humour and convenience for its advertisements. XYXX Apparels is wooing consumers with offers of return policy on innerwear purchases.
KV ‘Pops’ Sridhar, global chief creative officer, Nihilent & Hypercollective, believes that the genesis of earlier narratives is rooted in how consumers perceive undergarments in the country. He says, “In India, all undergarments are traditionally considered intimate. So, the underwear ads would leverage that sentiment, leading up to such tropes.”
Consumers are more aware now, and the political, socio-economic, and cultural background of consumers should be considered when rendering these ideas.KV ‘Pops’ Sridhar, global chief creative officer, Nihilent & Hypercollective
Now brands have the capacity to contextually target their audiences and develop better strategies. This, according to Sridhar, calls for brands to revamp their creatives and find more originality.
“Consumers are more aware now, and the political, socio-economic, and cultural background of consumers should be considered when rendering these ideas."
This category has been built by closet masculinity as a key driver and thus audience catcher. The celebrity superstar halo pampering the egos of the average man, resigned to boring routine existences.Shivaji Dasgupta, founder and managing director, INEXGRO Brand Advisory
Shivaji Dasgupta, founder and managing director, INEXGRO Brand Advisory believes that the ads are catering to an underlying insecurity amongst men. He says, “This category has been built by closet masculinity as a key driver and thus audience catcher. The celebrity superstar halo pampering the egos of the average man, resigned to boring routine existences.”
But the new concurrent narratives gaining traction within the category are a way forward. As per Dasgupta, brands need to evolve and adopt cleaner and more authentic identities to cater to the modern consumer.
He says, “Nowadays the world is changing and the customer is way more evolved and sophisticated. They have the appetite to appreciate and engage with premium empathy messaging. These brands need to become an extension of fashion values and not reside further in the arena of pure play masculinity.”