As we watch and re-watch Levi’s ‘Auva Auva - Deepika Padukone’ ad for more reasons than one, our guest author pens her thoughts on it.
At the turn of the new year, my old jeans were back.
Wearing them regularly for the first time since early 2020 was like meeting a friend after ages. As lockdowns and Zoom calls played out, sweatpants ruled especially since no professional contact ever needed to witness you waist down. Denim had been relegated to the back of the closet – a space previously occupied by other seasonal needs like holiday swimsuits, Christmas socks and Mumbai weather ‘woollens’.
Denim, and more specifically, jeans were an important staple from the pre-COVID days. They were comfortable & unchanging; two qualities that could hardly be used to define 2020. They were the first signs that I was changing - I knew I’d overdone dessert at Diwali when I struggled with the zipper. I put them away last March with a little sadness, but also with the hope that when I took them out again, the world would be a safer place.
It’s appropriate then, that as the vaccine rolls out and lockdowns ease up, that the new Levi’s We All Move campaign is one of optimism. There’s no denim in sight in the original ‘Auva Auva Koi Yahan Nache’ song from 1982’s ‘Disco Dancer’, but everyone could do with a bit of Bappi-esque joy. CRED would agree.
However when timed with International Women’s Day, expectations fall short. Motorcycles & drum solos are aspirational enough, but 2021 needs inspiration we can act upon.
You don’t have to look long to find a burning issue. Participation in the workforce is at a shocking 7% among urban Indian women. Crimes against women continue to rise year after year. Are we even ready to dance like no one’s watching yet?
Even the jeans deserve better. There are few garments in India that are so uniquely loved and protested over. For every woman who’s been celebrated and banned from loving & living in their favourite pair, Dancehall with Deepika doesn't quite cut it - even though she looks hot enough to set fire to a wet rag.
Coupled with a supporting cast that’s not as diverse as we deserve in 2021, We All Move is a cheery but meh addition to a long list of forgettable campaigns that descend annually without fail or demand.
The burden of representing real ambitions in an entertaining & impactful manner is no easy task. That said, it can and it has been done. Last year at this time, the team at Rio Pads roped in Radhika Apte to show audiences that mature women needed a menstrual product that did more than help them wear white pants & touch pickles.
Reactions to the use of red and not blue liquid in sanitary napkin advertising, were the real surprise. While some hailed this as a step in the right direction, many women expressed disgust, nausea and even, anger.
The comments section sparked discourse about years of advertisement-led social conditioning on a monthly phenomenon that affects half the population. Why should period blood be of any other colour than it really is? Why do we feel shame? And why do we fight attempts to change the narrative? We don’t have all the answers, but tactical campaigns that make us question the status quo are doing it right.
One comment on Rio’s Instagram page stands out. An irate woman asks, ‘Does feminism means [sic] that you should show everything to everyone openly ?’
The short answer is yes, and there's no avoiding it if you want to ride the Women’s Day gravy train.
March 8 is a day to celebrate people as women first and consumers, later. Brands can and should run campaigns with sole focus on the bottom line, but for one week, they should care about issues that mean something to women - even if they're just pretending.
(Alisha Coelho is a former journalist and content strategist, living in Mumbai. She wrote about Levi’s in 2013. Read it here.)