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Ads Nudging More Progressive Narratives & Shattering Stereotypes

Brands are slowly wrapping their heads around the idea and diving into less stereotypical campaigns

Whoever controls the media, controls the mind. The notable observation by Jim Morrison is as true today as it was when he expressed it. Marketers have indeed used the media to build persuasive imagery, but seldom have they done it responsibly.

Time and again, advertisements and the stories they tell cast women in auxiliary or decorative roles, while men have attributed the voice of authority and trust. And that’s just the most evident way marketing campaigns latch on to outdated, and frequently harmful, cultural norms to propel their own messaging. However, in recent years, brands and advertising agencies have begun to actively battle this notion.

Crossing the boundaries of ad concepts to break stereotypes

What separates a cookie-cutter campaign from a powerful point of view is an ad that reflects a more progressive world. Gender-balanced ads, as well as those that challenge old-school beliefs, drive far greater brand value, uplifting impact, and purchase intent, all while effecting positive change. Brands are slowly wrapping their heads around the idea and diving into less stereotypical campaigns.

BL Agro’s #RasodeMeinMardHai

Typically, ad campaigns exclude men from activities centred around the home or, at the most, use them to reinforce the portrayal of females as home-makers. BL Agro’s #RasodeMeinMardHai campaign advocates the polar opposite concept: that men can and must shoulder the responsibilities of the kitchen.

The persuasive and powerful ad doesn’t depict women toiling over the stove for a celebratory meal. Rather, it shows three men cooking and then serving their family. The message fractures the ingrained attitude that women have to take on the bulk of kitchen duties. By subtly depicting gender equality in cooking, the campaign normalises the fact that the task and the accompanying chores like prepping, serving, or cleaning are as much a man’s obligation as a woman’s.

VIP’s wedding favourites 2022

There are some wedding traditions in India that still haven’t broken away from regressive customs. The opening gambit of VIP’s #PyaarWahiSochNayi campaign highlights this as the extended family welcomes and bestows a daughter-in-law with gifts and the orthodox blessing “doodho nahao, pooton phalo.”

The blessing perpetuates the stereotypical expectations that family members have of newly-weds, especially women. The ad brings this issue to its knees by representing a father-in-law who’d rather have the couple expand their horizons through travel before starting a family.

Ariel #SeeEqual #Sharetheload

Ariel launched its #Sharetheload campaign in 2015. Since then, the laundry detergent brand has released 5 editions of it. The #SeeEqual #ShareTheLoad ad is the latest in line and is designed to promote marriage equality. It challenges the construct that husbands rarely see wives as coequals, especially when it comes to house chores like laundry.

The campaign continues to urge men to drop their biases, like all other Share The Load campaigns. But it also brings a new topic of conversation to the screens: women questioning why it is easier for men to split responsibilities with each other but not with their wives.

Colgate’s #SmileOutLoud

Advertising does much to affect the definition and idea of beauty prevalent today. Colgate’s #SmileOutLoud campaign rethinks that idea by representing real women with bodies, skin, and teeth that society does not deem perfect.

It splinters any lingering preconception about what is considered beautiful and just about every rule on beauty advertising. An extraordinary example of femvertising, it disarms and nullifies criticism and goes a long way towards empowering women to break free from insecurities.

Marketing as a force for positive change

Marketing campaigns have the power to influence both individuals and communities at large. With more brands and agencies becoming conscious of blind spots and ingrained biases, advertising has reached a tipping point. Brands who do not pay heed to it will catch heat and penalties for getting it wrong, while those who do will go down in history as leaders who forever changed thinking and behaviour.

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