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