AdStand: Breaking stereotypes or strengthening them?

Celebrity is the most commonly employed brand strategy to stand out and build image. In this hyper connected world, the strategy is to find a provocative social problem and create a branded message around it. There have been a slew of brands from telecom to fashion that have used progressive feministic appeals to cut through clutter.

Latest to join the battle is Biba.

Biba is an ethnic wear brand for women; its early days were about being the official partners to movies and dressed up many a star. End of last month it released a campaign – #changeisbeautiful – about breaking a few stereotypes and creating a new convention. It uses adusky protagonist, questions conventions and establishes new conventions. It has been rewarded with thirteen million plus views on the web. Clearly it has been a viral hit and has generated a conversation.

The commercial starts with food (how can I marry a person over samosa) and ends over food (does the groom know how to cook?). Somehow in our progressive brand worlds, cooking and dusky skins take centrestage. Biba while having good intentions and wanting to get into progressive conversations actually stays in the conventional zone. To a certain extent it is comical in its characterization, and that takes away from the hard-hitting appeal it could have had. Biba I feel missed more than it scored.

I would like Biba to look at these two TVCs from Bharat Matrimony. The first commercial is about husband seeing off wife who has had an opportunity of lifetime, and the second is about the husband being the critic of the wife’s stage performance. These two are not viral hits on net, but are far more compelling and could easily fit the #changeisbeautiful narrative. Bharat Matrimony does not get into overt drama, or into a preachy mode and definitely stays away from Kitchen. Bharat Matrimony scores many points with its sensitive portrayal. The ads are about letting wives chase their passion, about giving wives the space they need, about husbands that stand by them, and all this is delivered with powerful portrayal. To me Bharat Matrimony broke the stereotypes that we in advertising have built over the years.

Brooke Bond tea’s latest transgender band is attempt in the same direction. Co-created with YRF, endorsed by Sonu Nigam, Brooke Bond has taken the initiative to further the cause of gender equality in India. The band’s first song is the cover version of Pharrell William’s global hit ‘Happy’. What the brand does well is to stay away from meddling with the overall construct of the narrative; it’s not overtly branded for a tea brand. What it does not achieve is true gender diversity conversation. It leaves the conversation in the known stereotypical zone. I hope as the initiative progresses, they actually do something about the problems of community and truly work towards generating equality. For me, it is an initiative that has the ability to grow into something very substantial for the brand.

The way to merge social stereotypes and have a hard hitting commentary about it has been shown by Kalki in this video.

Printing Machine, written and narrated by her, is a powerful statement on what today’s news media does to women. How everything is seen from sensationalizing angle, on how every event that happens will be used to create commerce.

Click click clika lika lik lik the tap on the lap goes zip zap is very much a commentary on how we in advertising sometimes mindlessly use social cause to create messages to be vain, progressive, forward thinking, when we are actually stuck in our own stereotypes. Remember this too is a commercial message from a brand of cosmetics, and that makes it super powerful.

original published here

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