Mumbai: It’s odd, really, to watch a montage of women, speaking in actor Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone in a new branded content video for ITC Ltd’s personal care brand, Vivel. They are all voicing their trail of thoughts, replete with stereotypes, and perpetuating a mindset that has limited them in the first place.
“One more year of work and then, get married and settle down,” says a young girl. “You’ll wear red lipstick to the meeting? Are you mad?” chides another female colleague. “Everyone is staring, should have worn jeans,” says a woman, shifting uncomfortably in a short skirt. The video, which shows different women speaking in a male voice, drives home the point that social conditioning is often so ingrained that women themselves end up perpetuating the stereotype, against themselves and their own.
Content company Culture Machine’s digital channel Blush, along with Vivel, partnered with Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan to create the video Ab Samjhauta Nahin, which inspires women to say no to a life full of compromises. The #UnBlushed series video encourages women to challenge time-worn mindsets that stereotype and, at times, impede their lifestyle choices.
Ab Samjhauta Nahin goes beyond a beauty discourse to address attitudes and behaviour towards women, said a statement from the content company. The campaign is designed to encourage discussion around age-old gender biases, inspire young women to question the limits that they have been conditioned into accepting and empower them to live fuller and more equal lives. The video encourages women to stop accepting any biases and empower them to live a life equal to their male counterparts. It features women from all walks of life who are facing an inner conflict with their real emotions. It ends on a serious note, as Amitabh Bachchan says, “A right can never be silenced.”
The video comes in time to promote Bachchan’s film Pink, which is about three women who are put through hell and labelled prostitutes for protecting themselves and fending off sexual abuse from a powerful man and his friends. Bachchan plays the lawyer who defends them in court.
“The video shows up a mirror to us. When you grow up in a society, you also tend to imbibe the stereotype. And this conditioning is so deep that you hardly realise when you, as a woman, start perpetuating it. Take for instance, the point in the film when one woman asks her female colleague to wipe off her red lipstick before heading to a meeting. It showcases how deep the social conditioning is, and how it works at such micro and minuscule levels in the thing we say to ourselves,” said Vatsala Patel, channel director, Blush-Culture Machine. “At Blush, we believe that any cultural shift will happen through a story. And thus, when we found a story like Pink which talks about women’s issues, it was a very natural amalgam,” she added.
Earlier this month, Bachchan, who is also an ambassador for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign, wrote a letter to his granddaughters advising them to make choices in the light of their own wisdom and never be bogged down by what people have to say. The letter, though personal and heartfelt in tone, was part of the marketing for the Pink. “Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom,” he said in his letter to them. He posted the letter on social media, saying that his letter was for them as well as “all granddaughters.”
“Though there are many brands in the competitive mass premium soap segment, only a few (like Dettol and Santoor) have a clearly defined brand essence. An established brand like Vivel is trying to create its own resonance amongst women with Ab Samjhauta Nahin. Sometimes a brand creates its identity by invoking a perceived or real enemy. In this case, the ‘enemy’ is the traditional attitude of men towards women. This particular campaign is potentially powerful as it is rooted in reality and can unite women,” said Raghu Bhat, founder director, Scarecrow Communications Ltd.
Besides, the creative execution is disruptive and uses Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone in a way which is not seen or heard before. “Now the important thing is to go beyond advertising and keep reinforcing the brand message through non-preachy on-ground activations. The timing of the campaign is right given the recent performance of Indian women in the Olympics and certain reprehensible instances of male oppression against women,” he added.