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Trendspotting: Brands bag global laurels on back of social issues

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Trendspotting: Brands bag global laurels on back of social issues

Today, social issues seem to be the name of the game when it comes to winning awards in the international context. Be it BBDO winning the top honour at Cannes for its ‘Touch the pickle’ campaign for Whisper sanitary napkins or the Ariel ‘Share the load’ campaign. Last year as well, UNICEFs ‘Poo2Loo’ grabbed attention from different corners of the world on the issue of open defecation.

Admakers are increasingly trying to create campaigns that engage brands and consumers in the most personal and relatable manner possible. Looking at recent trends, it seems the best bet to reach out to consumers and outshine in any industry is to create ads that raise social issues and fight social taboos. The rate at which brands are rolling out social taboo-themed ads, one wonders what is the key reason behind the trend.

Sharing his insight behind the growing popularity of ads using social causes, Josy Paul, Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India said, “Indian advertising is embracing social-cultural tension points and conflicts, and finding creative ways to resolve these issues. Young Indians are questioning the stereotypes of the past and liberating advertising from the traditional clutches of the perfect model-hero archetype. Creativity in India no longer sits on the fringes. It stands right in the middle of society. Clients are not just taking risks, they are taking sides – and going all out and aligning themselves with national agendas. It is no longer just about selling but about leading consumers to a higher plane.”

India hit the high note at Cannes this year when it won the inaugural Glass Lion Grand Prix for P&G’s Whisper for its ‘Touch the Pickle’ campaign, created by BBDO India, Mumbai. The campaign, created last year, encouraged women in India to break cultural taboos around menstruation, including the myth that touching a jar of pickle will cause it to spoil. Speaking behind the popularity of the ‘Touch the Pickle’ ad, Paul commented, “Menstruation as a subject was unspoken and was always kept under wraps #TouchThePickle, brought it out in the open. It started a movement that got media, social platforms, student organizations, stand-up comedians and even TEDx talking about the subject openly – something like this had never happened in India before.”

Talking about the ‘Ariel Share the load’ campaign, he added, “In a country where 90% of women do all the household chores themselves, this campaign set out by asking an important question on national media: ‘Is laundry only a woman's job?’ The brand then stepped forward and launched the first ever 'his and her' pack. Not enough, it tied up with matrimonial websites where marriages are arranged to promote this discussion. Ariel even got clothing brands to re-look at their wash care labels and add a new washing instruction ‘Can be washed by men and women'.”

More recently bagging the first ever award for India at Annecy, France’s prestigious International Animation Film Festival which is the worlds’ oldest and best animation film festival, Eeksaurus has bagged the Annecy Cristal Award in the Commissioned Film Category for their film on child labour for Rotary International titled ‘Fateline’.

Suresh Eriyat, Founder and Creative Director, Eeksaurus said, “Jury members cited that the film won because of fantastic aesthetics and techniques used. It won not really because of the social aspect, but because of the aptly used medium. We used lines of the palm as the basic central line, to highlight that we may be born with certain fate, like ill health, poverty, handicap, but when another hand joins, fate can surely change for the better. Another highlight of the film is that the music which is used is sung by the slum children, from Govandi.”

He further added, “The reason these social cause films are being appreciated globally is because even though it is quite a clichéd thing, that the West loves everything about India’s poverty, it is true to some extent. Also, we have far more problems that developed nations, so these laurels are also a way to encourage people to do good to the society. In my belief, every brand should take up certain social responsibility because it has huge potential of influencing people.”

Another trend seen is that the ads which are talking about bold subjects are also driving a lot of conversations on social media. Be it the recent Brooke Bond Red Label ad which is about live-in relationships or portraying lesbian love in Anouk’s new campaign. Social media is helping these ads to get viral and a flock of such ads, at times, proves to break new grounds in a closed society like India. Whatever maybe the reason for creating such ads, it is clear that the conversations around what is considered taboo seem to be the fall back of such ad films and it looks like Indian storytelling through the form of ads, has come of age. To this effect, international or local awards prove to be icing on the cake.

Click here to view the ads:

Whisper: ‘Touch the Pickle’:

Ariel: Share the load:

Rotary Fateline:

Poo2loo campaign:

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