Dentsu Webchutney’s PG Aditiya and Pooja Manek speak about the inspiration for the cookbook, research and putting together a hard copy, working in a digital agency.
Sometimes, the process of cooking takes longer than eating the meal itself. Most of the time, in marriages and romantic relationships, partners split the work. However, even if there is some level of teamwork on ground while executing the recipe, cookbooks still assume that cooking is a one-person job.
Swiggy and Dentsu Webchutney are looking to change that. The two are attempting to change the format of the cookbook by splitting the recipes into half – cutting down on the time it takes to cook a meal.
The cookbook, titled ‘The Better Half Cookbook’, features recipes from around the world. The book contains main course recipes, dessert recipes and vegan recipes too. The ingredients for each recipe can be ordered directly from the book with a simple QR scan(which pulls up a cart, preloaded with ingredients), and the order is delivered by Swiggy Instamart in 30-45 minutes.
Swiggy Instamart helps deliver groceries and other household items. It was launched in 2020, and is currently available in Gurugram and Bengaluru. Since each recipe is split into exact half, the time spent to cook it together also gets divided into exact half, leaving the couples with more time to relish their food together.
The cookbook also features interesting ideas on how couples can spend some quality ‘we-time’ with the time they save by cooking the meal together. Swiggy is also running a contest where it invites users to post pictures of themselves and their better halves in the kitchen for a chance to win a free cookbook.
To learn more, afaqs! caught up with the brains behind the cookbook – two creative directors from Dentsu Webchutney. PG Aditiya (NCD) and Pooja Manek (ACD).
Aditiya points out that the campaign is in an interesting space and the aim was to take the brand from a food ordering space to a food (ingredients) delivery space.
“One of Swiggy's core propositions is its fast delivery, irrespective of whether it is food or groceries that a user is ordering. It's an interesting marriage between the time spent saved on delivering groceries and the time needed to cook a dish,” he says.
Manek points out that in Indian households, more often than not, it is the woman who does most of the cooking and household tasks. “In (COVID-induced) lockdown, the men were at home, but they still weren’t necessarily helping out with the housework. When I had to juggle work from home and work for home, I started feeling lucky that my partner contributed and helped with household tasks. But I realised that it didn’t have to be the case.”
She adds that while creating the Instamart campaign, the agency understood that the person who orders groceries is the one who spends the most amount of time in the kitchen.
“It was the simple realisation that cooking had always been looked at as a one-person job and we had to rethink that. We had to figure out how to make cooking a two-person job. That’s how we came up with an idea for a cookbook, which splits up the instructions. Both the partners have a set of tasks in order to speed up the cooking process and make the meal come together.”
Manek adds that many men may want to help, but aren’t accustomed to doing household work and fear they might mess up if they try to help.
“That’s why the role of these partners is largely relegated to doing work such as frying papads or setting the table. Especially when it comes to men who have the intent to help out, we do not want them to feel crippled. We wanted to create something that helps men contribute equally and meaningfully in the kitchen without feeling like a sous-chef or a sidekick,” she says.
Aditiya admits that a campaign that influenced their work on this cookbook was BBDO India’s work for Ariel – ‘Share The Load’. The campaign is an effort in gender sensitivity that asks husbands and sons to share the load of the household work too to help out their overworked partners.
“Share The Load was one campaign that Pooja and I spoke about at great lengths while devising this campaign. It puts forth a very powerful idea in theory. But the problem is that sometimes, we get lost in rhetoric. Our aim was to create a campaign which brought the idea to life in a different way,” he says.
To bring the book to life, Aditiya had to test the recipes with his girlfriend and measure the time taken for each task to ensure that the cooking time really was cut in half. He adds that while equality was an important aim of the campaign – it also had a practical use; to make sure the meals are cooked faster.
“The first phase of research had to be what kind of recipes we wanted to put in the book. Then, we had to figure out how to write instructions in such a way that the two partners are helping each other cook and not performing tasks separately. If, for example, one partner might be cutting the vegetables and the other might have the oil ready to start cooking them… basically one step can’t happen without the others' help,” explains Manek.
Aditiya mentions that this is the first edition of the cookbook and they’re hoping to launch more versions in future. “Considering that this campaign is for Swiggy Instamart, all the ingredients for the recipes in the book are available on Instamart. We wanted to make the time spent on finding ingredients a little lesser so that people can spend more time cooking. Which is why we wanted to have a layer of convenience there also.”
“The moment you select which recipe you want to cook, you can scan the QR code and a preloaded cart will appear, which has all the ingredients needed for the particular cooking session. This is to make sure that you don’t spend time searching for the ingredients, you can directly have the ingredients delivered to you via Swiggy...” says Manek.
‘Voice of Hunger’ versus ‘The Better Half Cookbook’
Aditiya admits that the creative process for their 2019 ‘Voice of Hunger’ campaign was very different from the one employed to write this cookbook. He adds that for the ‘Voice of Hunger’, they had to think like a child because they were trying to get grown-ups to make weird noises into their phones to form shapes of foods.
“For ‘The Better Half Cookbook’, we had to think like adults. A lot of us live with our partners and, with lockdown, many of us have got into cooking too. The creative process for this campaign was much more fulfilling too. It’s like comparing London and Tokyo, in terms of how we had to think,” he says.
Aditiya elucidates that a physical cookbook isn’t something that one would normally consider within the framework of what a digital agency does.
“We like the idea of testing our own limits, in terms of what we are capable of. It felt like going live with a print ad that took four months or so to write. I mean it’s a book, there is no editing post copy when it has been printed. To work with an idea which had no beta testing was an interesting concept to us,” he mentions.
Aditiya and Manek admit that this is the first time they hit upon a campaign idea that their parents love.
“In our line of work, it’s not too often that we have people across demographics understanding and relating to our work. In our obsession with target audiences and segmentation, we acknowledge that 80 per cent of the people might not understand our work, but we get that there is 20 per cent who do. This is the first time we have had people across demographics understanding and relating to our work,” Aditiya concludes.