New Delhi: A year after making a bold statement on workplace harassment, ITC’s soap brand Vivel is back with a new campaign titled ‘Ab Samjhauta Nahin’ (No more compromise). The ad, promoting the brand’s new Lotus Oil variant, is a powerful montage of young women who are breaking stereotypes by making their own life choices.

Made by advertising agency Brand David Communications, the spot features a contemporary dancer practising hard, a surgeon heading a team inside an operation theater, a young lawyer wading her way through a protest, a boxer (played by mixed martial arts fighter Bharti Dhoundiyal) knocking out her male opponent in a ring, and a photojournalist covering a fire. The visuals are accompanied by a regressive narrative dictating the way women must live their lives conforming to the accepted norms of society.

Sameer Satpathy, chief executive, personal care products business, ITC Ltd, said: “The Lotus flower, is a symbol of strength and beauty. Much of its symbolism evolves from the way the lotus blooms in spite of its environment and adversities. This is in line with Vivel’s philosophy and our endeavour to bring in world class products to the Indian market."

“While Lotus provides beauty benefits like radiance and moisture, it is also used as a symbol of purity despite the fact that it grows in muddy water. The brand’s philosophy ‘Ab Samjhauta Nahin’ builds on this very quality of the flower urging women to challenge the status quo and break stereotypes despite the societal pressure," said Ajay Menon, executive vice-president, Brand David Communications.

Launched in 2008, Vivel has, so far, communicated product benefits in its commercials. Now that the brand has established itself, the company says it wants to move ahead to establish an emotional connection. Interestingly, Vivel competes with Hindustan Unilever Ltd’s soap brand Dove, which also pegs its larger narrative on a woman’s self-worth.

Ananda Ray, creative head at advertising agency Rediffusion Y&R thinks that the new Vivel campaign is slick and well executed although the transition to the product window at the end is slightly jarring. “Obviously, the brand guidelines cannot be altered, nor can a woman’s feminine side be neglected, but the transition could have been made slightly more seamless. It was the only point where I disengaged with the communication," he said.

The message itself is becoming cliched, he seemed to suggest, with far too many brands taking the same route.

“Perhaps brands should start treating the achievements and capabilities of women with a degree of nonchalance, which suggests greater acceptance and respect. There should no longer be celebration or surprise when a woman achieves something."

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