Shoe on the Right Foot

In a new dig­i­tal spot, the brand takes up a sen­si­tive sub­ject. Will it help sell more shoes?

The Brand Reporter - - ADVERTISING - By Abid Hus­sain Bar­laskar abid.bar­laskar@afaqs.com

The hi­jab, sports-shoes and a ded­i­cated woman - what do these three have in com­mon? Per­haps noth­ing at all, or they could be at fore of a new brand com­mer­cial for a new Lib­erty Shoes line of sports foot­ware - LEAP 7X’s lat­est cam­paign ‘#ChalBad­hChal’.

How­ever, should you ven­ture a Google search with key­words like ‘hi­jab’, ‘sports-shoes’, ‘woman’, and ‘com­mer­cial’ to­gether, you’ll find re­sults for Nike’s ad film - “What will they say about you?”, for its Pro Hi­jab head­gear de­signed for Mus­lim women in­volved in sports ac­tiv­i­ties.

The cam­paign ‘#ChalBad­hChal’ for Lib­erty Shoes fea­tures Roshni Mis­bah, who’s be­come quite pop­u­lar as a hi­jabi biker. As the ad prop­a­gates, Mis­bah, a woman bik­ing en­thu­si­ast, is seen ‘rid­ing’ against so­cial odds to pur­sue her pas­sion for rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles and main­tain­ing good health while still prac­tis­ing her re­li­gion. All the ads vi­su­als are pack­aged quite neatly; com­plete with those of her per­form­ing her morn­ing na­maz and then slip­ping into her sports shoes to start train­ing.

It begs the ques­tion - didn’t Nike al­ready have a prod­uct, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cat­e­gory con­nect with its Pro Hi­jab cam­paign?

How­ever, this cam­paign, while it’s rid­ing on the ‘cause-ver­tis­ing’ wave, might also be the brand’s bold­est at­tempt at ad­ver­tis­ing in re­cent times. And in­stead of go­ing with a main­stream star, Mis­bah gives the cam­paign a cer­tain cred­i­bil­ity that’s be­liev­able, per­haps more so than just es­tab­lished faces would do.

The ad has been con­cep­tu­alised and crafted by the brand’s in-house team led by the mar­keter and lacks the in­volve­ment of an ad­ver­tis­ing agency. Like many re­cent ads by other brands, Lib­erty Shoes has also over­stepped the tra­di­tional agency setup.

afaqs! Re­porter got in touch with Barun Prab­hakar - mar­ket­ing head, Lib­erty Shoes, to find out more about the cam­paign.

“The brand ‘LEAP 7X’ is about pas­sion. We are sen­si­tive to be­liefs and faiths of all kinds and our in­ten­tion has never been to hurt any sen­ti­ment. For us, find­ing the right story to tell was vi­tal to our cam­paign. The big­gest marker of an in­spi­ra­tional story is the amount of pas­sion in­volved in it. That’s where our con­fi­dence came from while we de­cided to get Mis­bah on board. She is break­ing gen­der and re­li­gious stereo­types and aims at some­thing big­ger than her­self,” Prab­hakar says con­fi­dently.

Prab­hakar claims that

The cam­paign ‘#ChalBad­hChal’ for Lib­erty Shoes fea­tures Roshni Mis­bah.

#ChalBad­hChal is dif­fer­ent and the first-of-its-kind of ini­tia­tive taken by any brand so far (at least in In­dia). “Chal Badh Chal has no sim­i­lar­i­ties what­so­ever with Nike’s cam­paign. We will soon be com­ing out with our next film, fol­lowed by oth­ers be­cause it is not a one-off idea,” he shares.

Speak­ing about spe­cific risks that the mar­keter was wary of be­fore go­ing ahead with the cam­paign, Prab­hakar ex­plains, “We knew what we were do­ing, right from the start. If you’re mak­ing some­thing that you be­lieve in, you’re putting end­less hours­days-months into de­vel­op­ing the idea, ex­e­cut­ing it and then pre­sent­ing it to the world - there’s al­ways a risk. A risk that maybe oth­ers don’t see it the way you do. The main risk al­ways was hurt­ing par­tic­u­lar sen­ti­ments.”

Roshni Mis­bah’s is the first story in a se­ries and will be fol­lowed by oth­ers from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try as part of the cam­paign.

DOES THE AD FARE?

Sita Lakshmi Narayan Swamy, brand and con­sumer ex­pert con­sid­ers the cam­paign op­por­tunis­tic for tak­ing on a cause but main­tains that many brands are do­ing it.

“In this case, the brand was pre­vi­ously known for its hap­py­clappy or shall I say flappy TV com­mer­cials. Fur­ther, it has been out of the pub­lic eye for a cou­ple of years now. So, this is a case of jump­ing on the ‘fem-ver­tis­ing’ band­wagon with­out any his­tor­i­cal com­mit­ment to the cause of fe­male em­pow­er­ment,” shares Swamy.

“I doubt that the Hi­jab nar­ra­tive will harm the brand. The brand has clev­erly used the 22-year-old Mis­bah, who is mak­ing waves lo­cally as a hi­jabi biker, to quickly garner eye­balls for them­selves. Will it help the brand? - Only time will tell. Young peo­ple (es­pe­cially women) may re­call the brand be­cause of the strong pro­tag­o­nist, but I’m not cer­tain this will aid brand pur­chase, es­pe­cially be­cause the cat­e­gory (shoes) is some­how not fun­da­men­tal to mo­tor­bike rid­ing. I wish a mo­tor­bike brand had done this ad, that would have boosted bike sales amongst women,” Swamy adds.

Ra­jesh Lal­wani, CEO, Sce­nario Con­sult­ing, main­tains that the ad is per­fectly timed and the choice of pro­tag­o­nist is also per­fect, in terms of a real hero.

“Brands ei­ther cre­ate waves or ride them. Cul­tural brands like Nike come in the for­mer cat­e­gory, but the dis­quiet among women and their de­sire to stand tall, even among the most re­pressed parts of so­ci­ety, is ev­i­dent to every­one. The cam­paign is an at­tempt to catal­yse masses to join the move­ment show­cas­ing rel­e­vant lead­ers like Roshni Mis­bah, who are break­ing many stereo­types over­com­ing the mon­ster of so­cial dik­tat,” Lal­wani adds.

Speak­ing about the risk the brand has taken for the cam­paign, Lal­wani says, “There is no ques­tion of harm for there is a clear buy-in among the au­di­ence for the mes­sage. The hi­jab plays a piv­otal role in the story and gives cre­dence to the mes­sage that break­ing stereo­types and be­ing re­spect­ful to our cul­tural values aren’t mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.” ■

“The big­gest marker of an in­spi­ra­tional story is the amount of pas­sion in­volved in it. That’s where our con­fi­dence came from while we de­cided to get Mis­bah on board.” BARUN PRAB­HAKAR

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