The advertiser - Xpert dishwash bar - implores families to reduce the load by using fewer utensils through the day, instead.
Xpert dishwash bar tells families to use fewer utensils.
RSPL Group’s FMCG brand, Xpert has released a new ad film titled, ‘#EkBartanKam’, which makes a case for all those overburdened women who are buried under the weight of never ending dish washing. The one minute plus long ad takes a firm stand on the callous usage of utensils in most households, but that’s not exactly why this ad is raising eyebrows!
The arguably noble idea behind this ad seems to be in direct contrast to the feminist ideologies which other brands have sworn by in the past. The ad, which narrates the tedious daily schedule of an Indian housewife, portrays her sulking and fretting over the heap of utensils that await her attention. Perhaps, what stands out is that no one from her five member family assists her in the chores. The husband who offers an ice-cream outing to his wife, leaves without lending a helping hand upon learning that his wife is overburdened.
In times when brands such as Ariel are telling viewers to ‘share the load’, Xpert happily tells you to simply ‘ease the load’. And just like that, a question comes to mind - why is a dishwash brand strengthening age old gender stereotypes when the audiences have become receptive to newer ideas and concepts?
“Women don’t see it as a burden or a chore”, says Sanjay Tandon, assistant vice-president, RSPL Group. He adds, “This is the burning reality of Indian middle class families - the husband is working outside the home and the lady is working in the home. Both are doing the needful to run a family. Ladies go about their work cheerfully and even the husband has work pressure but he doesn’t come home and say ‘arre’... I have work pressure! This is what happens, isn’t it?” Now that’s a debatable topic!
Tandon tells afaqs! Reporter that the brand is targeting tier two audience and the ad is “obviously” not meant for households living in South Mumbai, Gurgaon, Whitefields, and the likes. He explains, “We (other brands) are happily sitting in our air conditioned offices, conducting remote researches and figuring out, ‘Yaar! Let’s now talk about gender equality’. So, we could have either perpetuated advertising stereotypes or could have created greater brand affinity towards our current and prospective customer. We opted for the latter. We wanted to convey an important message of being careful about utensil usage. What really happens is that every small addition to the lady’s chore adds to the time that she has to spend doing the chores. which is her responsibility. After all, she has to run the home.”
This is the first time the dishwash brand has taken a distinctive stand in its ad film. Previously, the brand had actors such as Priyanka Chopra and Madhuri Dixit on board to advertise brand features. So, why did the brand come up with a concept heavy film this time around? Tandon explains, “...we were aiming to be different and relevant at the same time. Frankly, these days, there is barely any product differentiation when it comes to performance. However, what really matters is the way you connect with your consumers. We wanted to spread brand affinity to a wider consumer base. A communication such as this makes the consumer feel that even though there is not much difference between competing goods in terms of performance, this brand is better since it at least takes a stand on relevant topics.”
The ad film, which has been crafted and conceptualised by ADK Fortune, is meant for both television and digital platforms. Akashneel Dasgupta, senior vice-president and executive creative director, ADK Fortune, tells that they did contemplate ending the story with the husband extending a helping hand. “...but we figured out that however ‘progressive’ it sounds it would never be the case. Especially in small Indian towns (the brand’s primary market) where the traditional roles remain the way they were twenty years back. It’s unfortunate but that’s the reality. Behaviour change of that level was a quantum jump, which is fanciful and unrealistic. Ariel has done that under ‘Share the Load’ but the audience for Ariel is totally different. We wanted an action or behaviour change that was much easier to happen realistically.”
Ads in this category generally utilise the domestic help angle - a tactic which Xpert too played with in its ad featuring Madhuri Dixit. So, why was this angle missing in the new ad? “Yes, that was a huge debate and consideration. We as an agency felt that it would creep up as a logical issue. I would like to credit the client for showing us the reality and convincing us for not going ahead with the maid angle. A lot of us sitting in Delhi and Mumbai might be very comfortable with the fact that there is always a maid to do the dishes but the larger truth is that in tier 2 and 3 towns it is still the housewife who does the dishes,” informs Dasgupta.
PUSHING STEREOTYPES OR MIRRORING REALITY?
In times when the questioning viewer refuses to accept traditional norms; can brands afford to take sides at the cost of losing their prized goodwill? To clear this predicament, afaqs! Reporter got in touch with Akshat Bhardwaj, creative director, DigitasLBi who tells that the ad is very simple and that’s never a bad thing.
He elaborates, “Yes, there is a certain element of a stereotype that is pushed through this ad, and while that did leave me uncomfortable, this ad is not meant for a metropolitan audience since it only reflects the reality of sub-urban India. So, while ‘sharing the load’ was understood by an evolved audience, the direction taken by this film is more suited for the audience in question. After all, it is the kid (the future) who suggests ‘easing the burden’ as a solution to the grandma’s (the past) unreasonable attitude.” ■
The ad has been crafted by ADK Fortune, and is meant for both TV and digital platforms.