By Malay Desai
By : Lowe Lintas + Partners
HUL’s top detergent brand for washing machines has launched a new campaign which communicates that clothes washed in this product are as good as those washed by mothers with their hands. In the film, aftera child comes home with a heavily soiled shirt, his granddad asks him not to worry as ‘mummy’ will hand wash it. The child still insists, and they get on a video call with his mother, who suggests they use Surf Excel Matic to solve the problem. They manage to do it, and show it off to her when she returns home later. The OOH ads for this campaign show the mother and child posing against a washing machine with the copy ‘As Good as Mom’s Hand Wash’.
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Mothers are the gold standards of many things in Indian advertising –they do the best bum-cleaning of munna, they cook the best dal, they’re the best house-keeping staff and as the latest ad campaign from Hindustan Unilever feels, they are the best personnel to wash our clothes, because they do it by hand.In wanting to portray a case for ‘mom-free washing’, HUL’s agencyjust put its foot very close to its mouth.
The laundry segmenthas recently stepped into the equal sexes world, years after showing middle class bahus as de-facto managers of boys’ and men’s dirty linen. Lloyd’s washing machines, after a horrendous misuse of Shruti Hassan, have launched a film where a wife sarcastically whips her hubby by calling the machine ‘unisex.’ Earlier this year, Surf’s competitor Ariel with its agency BBDO pushed us to think hard upon whether laundry is just a woman’s job. Internationally, P&G has made stellar films that stand clear on women’s rights – its London 2012 film ‘Moms’ and the more recent ‘#LikeAGirl’ campaign are case studies.
And then, we have this film. ‘Koi baat nahin, mummy ragad ke dhodegi beta’, goes a dialogue. ‘Mummy ke haatho jaisi safai apse nahin hogi!’ goes another. The mother, a working woman who’s free to give dhulai instructions while at office, is the washing incharge of home, but to show that times have changed,the film tries to say ‘it’s the men now who must take the onus.’Conveniently, there is no father in the picture, but a father-in-law, who eventually does the incredible task of putting powder in a machine and turning it on. Major win for equality!
The result –the kid victoriously announces toward the end that they’ve done ‘aap jaisi safai’, further rubbing in the stereotype. What’s worse, just in case you think the TVC promotes the thought of men washing clothes,the uncluttered OOH campaign will ensure the ‘washing is your mom’s job’ message.
HUL, in trying to wash your hands in the flowing river of feminism, you soiled your clothes. That said, if a brand’s research tells you that it’s indeed mothers in-charge of laundry in majority homes, should the resulting campaign harp on the stereotype, or disrupt and show a new path?
(To watch this film,feed this link in your browser - bit.ly/ExcelMatic)
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