Taking a step further and breaking the stereotypical communication, Whisper recently rolled out a movement titled #TouchThePickle to try and put an end to period taboos that still haunt many Indian girls and women. While P&G claims that the new advertising campaign brings out the painful truth of our society, many women slam the “touch the pickle” campaign as being “silly” and “outrageous”. They claim that this is not a taboo, but are suggestions backed by scientific facts.
exchange4media finds out what works for the campaign, and what doesn’t.
The new campaign, called #TouchThePickle began in mid-July with the launch of the online-video and TVC. P&G unveiled an interactive Facebook page for the campaign alongside the videos. The movement is initiated under the brand campaign called ‘Kadam Badhaye Ja.’
The 30-second commercial slams the myths surrounding menstruation by throwing the main light on one of the most ridiculous one of such taboos—‘a menstruating woman should refrain from touching a pickle jar as the pickle could get spoilt'.
This film urges women to break free from these taboos just like the protagonist in the film. The girl in the film touches a jar of pickle nonchalantly while looking for her keys. Her grandmother sees this and brings it to her notice. The girl touches the pickle again, this time purposefully, with a mischievous smile on her face suggesting that she dares to break free from this taboo. In the ensuing shots, the girl breaks one taboo after the other starting with wearing whites, going outdoors and even playing sports during her periods. All this while, she is encouraged by her grandmother and her friends as and when she breaks every one of these taboos.
The TVC has got over 1,555,678 views since its release. The video was shared on the brand’s You Go Girl page, and has received over 24,616 likes and 704 shares.
The page has been buzzing all this while, and has become a platform for period taboo discussions. Here are some excerpts:
“This is silly. Did you know that this is not a taboo? The idea was that girls during their periods should avoid eating acidic, spicy food…or preserved food. It should be fresh which is better for that time when your body is going through a tough time. That's all… It got translated to a taboo. Everything that Indian households believe in has scientific backing,” said one viewer on Facebook.
To this the brand responded by saying, “You rightly pointed out that this had a scientific reason. Alas, it got passed on as a taboo, which is highly unfair. We want to put an end to all such taboos. Join us and let’s break free from #PeriodTaboos!”
P&G has made a digital plunge in an effort to instill a positive attitude in young Indian women about periods, seeking to dispel some of the cultural taboos toward the subject that persists in much of the country. In doing so, it hopes to win the loyalty of a new generation of customers for Whisper.
In recent years, P&G has adopted a more direct approach to marketing its global female hygiene brands, Always and Tampax, seeking a bigger piece of a worldwide market.
“Through this campaign and keeping in consonance with their commitment of touching and improving lives, P&G India's Brand Whisper has launched this social initiative to empower women to break ancient period taboos and achieve their aspirations in life,” a P&G statement said.
According to the myth, the belief is that a woman who is menstruating, is impure and anything she touches becomes dirty, unholy, impure or unpalatable. Myths like menstruating women should not enter places of worship, or the kitchen are still believed and practised in Indian homes. Literacy has contributed a little in breaking such stereotypes over the years, but it still needs to reach and influence a large population that hold women back based on these myths.
Recently, a survey initiated by IPSOS for understanding the ‘Taboos associated with menstruation in India’ revealed that amongst the urban women in India 59 per cent still don’t touch the pickle and 52 per cent of them do not prefer to venture out of their homes, during their periods.
When asked about the success of the campaign in terms of spreading the “right” message, Komal Bedi Sohal, Chief Creative Officer, Rediffusion Y&R, said, “I think these are great. Whisper has taken the first step towards breaking the stereotypical communication in the category. It's easy to slam these ads but such taboos still exist in India. The fact that they've gone all-out and tackled such a sensitive topic is really commendable. However, I think to really make an impact and reach the masses it's aimed at, this communication should be vernacular. Those who still subscribe to these beliefs might miss the message altogether.”
“Knowing how regressive India can get, especially in matters pertaining to women, any campaign that tackles taboos and topics we normally brush under the rug is welcome,” she added.
India, as a nation, is divided into many mindsets. While some believe in moving forward, there are still a few things that are holding us back. Whisper’s campaign surely brings out this truth of our society. Whether the brand is able to bridge this gap or not is yet to be seen.
You can watch the ad here: