We wanted to change the 'boys will be boys' notion: Zenobia Pithawalla, Ogilvy

The Senior Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy speaks on what really prompted the team to opt for the said creative strategy while conceptualising #ShareYourStory for Breakthrough India

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Oct 22, 2018 8:05 AM

It’s amazing how India's #MeToo movement arrived in a cascade of allegations as women took to Twitter to call out comedians, journalists, authors, actors and filmmakers. And in the process, they have sparked a debate about consent and complicity. The fact that it got men in powerful positions step down says so much about how a campaign has the potentiality to transform so much. With that in mind, a campaign released by Breakthrough India in 2015 caught our attention.

While this is not the first campaign that made conversation regarding taking on sexual harassment, it is definitely one that does it differently and more tactfully. Conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather, the ad encourages mothers to talk about their sexual harassment experiences with their sons. How the campaign worked is that it invited mothers to write open letters to their sons, which Breakthrough would then share on its site. Alternately, mothers could also record WhatsApp videos/audios of them talking to their sons, making them aware of how they feel when such harassment happens to them (the moms).

The aim of the campaign was to spark conversations in families that would make boys understand what constituted immoral sexual behaviour. Zenobia Pithawalla, Senior Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy, spoke to exchange4media on what really prompted the team to opt for the said creative cut, campaigns against sexual harassment that she admires and more. Pithawalla shares that a survey by Breakthrough, showed that 90 per cent of women and girls have experienced sexual harassment once in their lifetime. “For the most part, young boys and men are unaware of what actually constitutes sexual harassment. Worse still, their actions are justified by friends, family and community with a dismissive statement - 'boys will be boys'. This attitude had to change,” she asserts.

She opens up that Sonali Khan, who was the agency’s client at Breakthrough, was very clear that she wanted to go beyond creating awareness. “She wanted to give out a solution. She wanted a 'Do campaign',” shares Pithawalla. The Senior ECD reveals that the team comprising Mihir Chanchani, Vikram Shah and Ambadas Wadisherla came up with the thought of what if mothers actually shared their sexual harassment stories with their sons. "Conversations of this nature don't otherwise happen in families,” she states.

Pithawalla lets out that she felt that the best way to get through these young men was to partner with the greatest influencers in their lives - their mothers. “It was important for every son to realise that even his mother is not spared. We hoped every son will do his bit to ensure what happened to his mother doesn't happen to another woman,” she continues.

The stories were real stories and incidents shared by women. For Pithawalla, the other Indian campaigns that really stand out against sexual harassment are Kalki's, 'It's your fault'.

“A take on the sick mindset of victim shaming. It is a provocative piece which makes you sit up and think.” She says. She is also all praises for the recent piece #HoliNotHooliganism, “Burzin Mehta, Sakshi Choudhary and their team show us the dirty truth that lies beneath the colours. I think every campaign's attempt is to provoke a change in mindset,” opines Pithawalla. She asserts that creating such an impact takes time. “The idea is to keep at it. And believe one day it will happen.”


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