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Guest Column: What's the script after her tears?-Ekta Relan, Mullen Lintas

27-July-2016
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Guest Column: What's the script after her tears?-Ekta Relan, Mullen Lintas

Of late there has been a plethora of digital videos on status of women or empowerment. So much so that now every time a new one comes, there’s a high chance we go “Yet another one!” Coming out of closet, prejudices of being like a girl, the freedom of ‘My choice’, narrative on rapes, discrimination during periods, at work place or for your looks etc., yes these are attention grabbing issues, worth raising through persuasive narratives. But essentially they end with just storytelling. And telling by definition is a 1-way medium. Aren’t these purpose driven brands truly missing the opportunity that the 2-way digital medium offers- the very medium through which these stories are reaching to people today?

What would have been meaningful is when after having aroused a feeling, instead of ending with a full stop, they found a way to instigate an action in you. When people feel for an issue, they are vulnerable and inclined to take a step that could help eradicate it, but provided we gave them that option. This step could be volunteering, raising money, spreading relevant awareness, pledge, a follow up update or anything that does something good for the cause. Now this is not about being altruistic. I am still talking brands and marketing. This is to create a relation with your audience that lasts beyond that ‘like’ button. It is to keep the story going on. This is to truly engage rather than just using digital as the new mobile TV, where all you are still seeking is GRP’s. Talking about sensitive issues did break the clutter but today they have become a clutter of their own.

Perhaps we need to better understand the different things that technology gives to women than to men. The pay-offs for women emerge from the backdrop of their socio-cultural context. There are more women than men on social networks or blogs not just because women have more time, but probably also because this is where their thoughts find an audience more easily than in the offline world. Here is where their opinion matters in issues beyond home. Here you can be you, without the need for renegotiation of your role in the family, which is a rarity for women. The truth of most women is that who they are today, is different from who they had wished to be. Technology helps bridge this gap. It is a means to reconnect with passions, hobbies. It transports them to different places, experiences, worlds where their online self lives life with arms wide open.

The other big reason why women love technology is efficiency, which it brings in their life. It is the newest entrant to the support system. From job hunting to recipes to how-to, the answer to many of her problems is usually a click away. Skype helps travelling working moms connect with kids. A gadget is the new baby sitter. Online shopping, homework apps, location trackers…digital today has brought efficiency in new ways. 

Thus it is time we think beyond the video. The joy in seeing your ‘kanda poha’ recipe on YouTube, followed by millions, is priceless. Can there be a holachef equivalent where it is all mom-cooked food (if there isn’t one already)? There are closet decorators, juice makers, salad tossers and who knows what, all waiting to come out of the closet. Can we have tear-jerking brand narratives to encourage and give a platform for such women to beat the discrimination and come out with their true potential? This is what will build a lasting relationship. It is also time we think about virtual worlds, experiential content, may be mobile games that take her places in ways one never imagined. That let her live the woman she always wanted to be, even if it is for just a little while. A virtual trial room allows her to wear a dress that you otherwise wouldn’t dare to wear. Can more brands take her on such joy rides? Similarly when it comes to ideas that make life just a tad bit easier for the busy woman, it is largely the start-ups who are leveraging this opportunity. Nothing stops brands from playing a meaningful role or identifying relevant partnerships. J&J investing in babycentre.com is a brilliant example. Can a brand partner with Ola or Uber to create late night service with only women drivers?

There are many such wonderful opportunities for brands to make meaningful connections with women, which extend beyond a teary video narrative. Because for women in mass India, digital is more than just a medium; it is an emotional connection where a different sentiment gets unlocked with every log in. It’s time we stop exploiting women’s status for grabbing attention for brands and instead create a meaningful and lasting relationship- one that enables these truly value adding motivations hidden in the web world of women.

(Ekta Relan is Executive Vice President and Planning Head –National, Mullen Lintas.)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the publisher.

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