Shreyas Kulkarni

Netizens point to similarities between Women's Day ad campaigns from Welspun and DS Group on women farmers

  • Welspun's Women's Day ad accused of similarities with DS Group's 2023 campaign on female farmers

  • Welspun's 'EqualStock' initiative faces criticism for alleged resemblance to DS Group's #SaluteTheFarmHER campaign

  • DS Group expresses concern over similarities, emphasizing their focus on both female and male farmers

  • ^ a t o m and Grapes agencies engage in a dispute over originality, execution, and the common cause

Many viewers of the recent Women’s Day ad from Indian conglomerate Welspun World have alleged similarities to a 2023 ad campaign from FMCG company DS Group for the same occasion

The conglomerate wanted to focus on women farmers because despite holding nearly 75% of the full-time farming jobs in India, men appear on online image search results of Indian farmers.

So, it developed a stock image portfolio of women farmers, called EqualStock and uploaded it on popular stock image websites Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay.

EqualStock on Pexels
EqualStock on Pexels

Welspun calls it the world’s first free image library of women farmers; a mindful initiative to shine the light on the invisible yet core contributor to India’s agriculture and the overall economy.

Comments on Welspun's Instagram post (1)
Comments on Welspun's Instagram post (2)

However, the comments section on Welspun's Instagram post raised eyebrows.

SaluteTheFarmHER, made by digital marketing agency Grapes, from the DS Group, too focused on the underrepresentation of women farmers in the media and had one request: populate media with images of female farmers and male farmers.

A second ad video from the campaign was released in December – directed by Titus Upputuru – that literally showed invisible farmers working in the fields doubling down on the near invisibility when it comes to representation of women farmers in media.

The ad campaign also included a VoxPop video and efforts to convince the media to represent female images while covering the sector.

Comments on Welspun's Instagram post (3)
Comments on Welspun's Instagram post (3)

Commenters on the Welspun video, made by full-service integrated agency ^ a t o m, raised the allegations of similarities because the idea was common and so was the build-up until the final act where Welspun created the image library, while DS Group urged media and people to use images of women and men farmers than only the latter.

We (afaqs!) reached out to the brands and the agencies on the claims viewers made.

Edited excerpts:

Yash Kulshrestha, chief creative officer, ^ a t o m

It’s a case of the same insight but wildly different ideas. It’s like saying all breast cancer campaigns are the same just because they all solve the issue of low awareness. Instead of just highlighting the issue and making an appeal, we created a new and free stock library for underrepresented women workers in India, starting with women farmers. That is the idea.

We encourage DS Group to use photos from our free stock and continue with our common cause of representing women rightly. The cause is bigger than anything. Anyhoo, I am glad that so many men are fighting on social media for a campaign on Women’s Day. Good days ahead.

Rajeev Jain, senior vice president, corporate marketing, DS Group

We are happy other corporates are championing the cause of female farmers. We are concerned about a recent campaign with a similar creative concept to our ongoing #SaluteTheFarmHER initiative, particularly given the lack of attribution for our original work.

Our video campaign tackles the underrepresentation of these women, highlighting the fact that a remarkable 80% of rural women are actively contributing to the agricultural sector.

The #SaluteTheFarmHER campaign increased online and offline media coverage of female farmers, evidenced by a rise in search result representation from approximately 8% to 37% in the last year.

Titus Upputuru, founder, The Titus Upputuru Company

In our business of ideas, there are a lot of times when coincidences happen as the same idea can occur to two different individuals or teams. But this is not the case this time.

The agency behind the Welspun video knew DS Group’s initiative. They knew that the Group was supporting 24,000 farmers on the ground and that the Group has spoken with over 80 media houses to better female farmer representation. They also knew about the ‘INVISIBLE FARMERS’ film that The Titus Upputuru Company had produced.

I wish they joined us in the movement instead of doing a separate gig that borrows not only the cause but the execution too.

Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and CEO, Grapes

The initiative was conceptualised based on the detailed research done by the team. All this was taken into consideration and in fact, the couple of female farmer images that you see right now on Google have appeared post our awareness initiative.

Well, we would love to have more brands and people joining the cause. It supports our initiative. It would have been great to see brand collaboration here looking at the current creative expression.

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