ITC tweaks Vivel’s ad strategy, speaks against objectifying women

By tweaking the advertising strategy for its personal care brand Vivel, ITC is looking to address gender-typecasting and attitudes towards women


A screen grab of the Vivel advertisement.
A screen grab of the Vivel advertisement.

New Delhi: ITC Ltd has tweaked the advertising strategy for its personal care brand Vivel, moving beyond mere product benefits to address gender-typecasting and attitudes towards women.

Made by Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi, the new creative for Vivel’s aloe vera soap with the tagline ‘Ab Samjhauta Nahin’ features a young working woman being congratulated by her friends after winning an award.

A middle-aged professional from a rival company approaches her, checks her out, comments on her looks and makes a suggestive remark on how he can help her rise to the top if she joins his company.

Surprised at the man’s inappropriate behaviour, the woman chooses to handle the situation with wit and sarcasm. The campaign showcases the harassment working women face and urges them to take a stand against objectification. The film ends with a message ‘Ab Samjhauta Nahin’ (No more compromise)

Launched in 2008, brand Vivel has, so far, communicated product benefits in its commercials. The company states that since the brand has entrenched itself in the consumers’ mind, it wants to move ahead to establish an emotional connection with them.

Interestingly, Vivel competes with Hindustan Unilever’s soap brand Dove, which also pegs its larger narrative on a woman’s self-worth.

Talking about the change in advertising strategy, Sameer Satpathy, chief executive, personal care, ITC Ltd said Vivel, as a brand, had evolved and become more inclusive.

“It is a natural progression,” he said, adding “Vivel has decided to take a stance on enabling women to ‘uncondition’ themselves from responding to the innumerable expectations of society. This is both in terms of inspiring as well as enabling them to take action.”

Satpathy insisted that Vivel’s strategy was different from the strategies of all other brands in the category.

“Our narrative is more than just a beauty discourse. It is a much larger narrative where we are addressing attitude and behaviour towards women,” he said.

Anil Nair, CEO & managing partner, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi said that Vivel’s approach will be India-specific. “Our issue is relevant to India where we intend to highlight prejudices towards women rampant in our society,” he said.

He added that the company has reinterpreted the softness proposition associated with a soap and moved away from its superficial beauty benefits.

“The beauty-led narrative is becoming superficial as women have undergone a change with education and exposure. We are rejecting such narratives which stereotype and objectify women. ITC is opening a new chapter, making the brand more purposive and meaningful to women,” he said.

Apart from the 360 degree campaign, the company is working on creating a larger platform which will amplify the new positioning online as well as offline. It plans to take forward the Ab Samjhauta Nahin tagline with social media conversations, digital videos and on-ground activities.

Vivel’s strategy is in line with changes in the society and the target audience, said Ashok Dingra, executive coach and management consultant.

“Dove has always addressed the SEC A consumers where women are far more educated with more exposure. Typically, these consumers are urban, elite, educated and most probably working. Vivel also reaches out to the same set of consumers and the best way to connect with them is to talk about greater social issues like equality. It’s a bang-on strategy to talk to this kind of TG (target group),” he said.

From a creative perspective, Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, finds the campaign bold for a category which has been long associated with images of bath tubs, blooming flowers and foamy bubbles on smooth shoulders. “However, the man’s proposition could have been slightly more subtle as I am not sure if people make such direct advances in public,” he said.

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