New Delhi: P&G owned cold and cough brand Vicks’ advertising has been synonymous with motherhood and care. The brand’s latest digital film titled Touch of Care takes a more inclusive approach highlighting why family and motherhood should go beyond the biological ties and in the process it touches upon a sensitive topic of transgender rights in India.
Uploaded on Vicks India’s YouTube channel on 30 March, it has garnered over 5.3 lakh views so far.
Made by advertising agency Publicis Singapore and directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, the film opens with a young girl named Gayatri who is on her way to a boarding school as her mother wants her to become a doctor. She proudly narrates her life journey on how she was adopted by a strong self-made woman who is raising her against all odds. At this point, she introduces the viewer to her mother who turns out to be a transgender. Teary-eyed Gayatri looks at her mother when she drops her off at the school and reveals her ambition to become a lawyer because she wants to fight for the rights of her mother.
The film ends revealing that the identity of the mother—a Mumbai-based transgender rights activist Gauri Sawant.
“We want consumers to recognise that everyone has a right to family and that wherever there is care, that bond is a family. This bond can be between people who are close to each other and go beyond just biological ties. Vicks has therefore adopted this bold and progressive stance—that above all else, it is care that is the ultimate definition of what a family is,” said a spokesperson from P&G.
The film will be promoted across digital as well as social media channels.
Ed Booty, chief strategy officer, Publicis Communications, Asia-Pacific, said, “Great brands don’t just reflect safe and accepted norms, instead they dare to set agendas in culture at large. That is our ambition with this work for Vicks—to give the timeless idea of Family Care a fresh and contemporary meaning.”
This is not the first time transgender community has been highlighted in a brand campaign.
Brooke Bond Red Label created a Six Pack Band video, India’s first transgender band, which not only stood out for its theme of inclusivity but also managed to bag the highest creative recognition in the ad world, the Cannes Grand Prix last year.
In 2014, Star India Network’s-owned music channel Channel V along with Ogilvy Mumbai launched a public service campaign Seatbelt Crew where a group of hijras dressed as plane’s cabin crew enacted the message of road safety.
Noting that the Vicks campaign has been executed well allowing viewers to empathize with the protagonists, Prathap Suthan, chief creative officer and managing partner, Bang in the Middle, believes that such campaigns are often judged for being attention seeking ploy.
“And that this is becoming a trend with many brands. But I would like to compliment the agency and the brand for using the real life story of Gauri Sawant to deepen sensitivity and trying to reduce social stigma,” he said.
However, Suthan feels that despite its strong plot the campaign does not have a seamless brand fit.
“There is a disconnect between the perceived stature and place of the brand in our lives to the deep rooted issue it is bringing up and getting linked to. It’s a more than bit of a stretch to see this as a natural area of concern for Vicks. Brands need to judge how well they fit with the cause they want to support,” he added.