Best: Dream Crazier by Nike
There’s so much that’s right with this one. Things that were just felt have been called out, embraced and celebrated. Nike commercials are always trying to do so much more with their campaigns. It’s inspiring. It’s brave. It’s crazy. Why I love this one could be just because it hits a nerve. As a woman in a workspace, I know a thing or two about rage. I also know how men perceive rage. And that Serena episode that created a polarising storm of opinions a few months back should be a reality check for everyone on how perceptions go down. Men in sports are mostly judged for their game not their theatrics. And even if they are judged for the latter, called bad boys, there are still darlings of the media. And Bad girls…well we know how they are seen.
Bekaar: Equal, Not Loose by Bumble India
I had been eagerly waiting for this one. Yes, that’s what we advertising people do. Wait for ads. We are sad like that. Then I watched it. A few times. And while I may have a point of view on the craft of it, what really struck me was how an ad that obviously set out to break gender stereotyping, ended up reinforcing them. I don’t get it. Internationally they are saying all the right things with the Serena ad. But in India, they have done just the opposite.
I mean, theoretically, it ticks all the boxes. Priyanka Chopra is an empowered woman who leads a multi-faceted life. She kicks ass at work, at home, in her love life, at the gym. She’s ambitious, not loose. Curious and busy, not loose. Free and equal, not, absolutely not, LOOSE. And then it dawned on me what about this whole ad made me uncomfortable. That it was a declaration of war against a word used on women, instead of targeting the people who use the word. ‘Bitch’, ‘loose’, ‘slut’ – the words keep changing. Unfortunately, the people who say these words never seem to. As a woman in the world of today, I do not want to appeal to anyone to not use words that may hurt me, and to please look beyond those words at my qualities. Hell no. Rather, I’d take those words and slap them in the head with it. Like when Hillary Clinton was called a ‘nasty woman’ by Trump. She did not retaliate by speaking about her many qualities. Instead, she took the phrase and wore it like a badge of honour. “You are goddamn right I’m nasty”, she seemed to be saying, “especially to men like you.” And all over the world, women who have been called names by men threatened by them, cheered.
In advertising today, brands are more than keen to be seen as progressive. But sometimes we forget that what is seen as ‘progressive’ keeps, well, progressing. And what was progressive a couple of years back, might be Louis CK today.
Shagun Seda, executive creative director, DDB Mudra
Best: ‘Blood Normal’ by Libresse
A campaign that helps destigmatize menstruation. It depicts various women on their period – experiencing cramps, having sex with her boyfriend, asking her friend for a pad loudly over a table full of dinner guests, men buying pads at supermarkets, and for the first time ever, period blood. Not the euphemistic blue liquid but real, bright red period blood. The campaign seeks a new normal with a powerful message for a culture that makes women feel ashamed of their periods: “Periods are normal. Showing them should be too”. This is what brave, boundary-busting work looks like. This is what positive change looks like.
Bekaar: ‘Happy Super Women’s Day’ by Oriflame
This film thinks it’s empowering women, but I found it cringe-worthy. Every pixel of this film reinforces a horrifying gender stereotype by glorifying the patriarchal notion that women are glorious multi-taskers juggling domestic chores and their (lesser paying) jobs. How have they really addressed the gender imbalance by putting a pink sash around her and calling her ‘superwoman’? This is exactly the kind of patronizing and tokenism that needs to stop.
Nisha Singhania, co-founder, Infectious
Best: Dream Crazier by Nike
I loved the recent Nike ad ‘Dream Crazier’ which was released at the Oscars this year. It beautifully captures how we judge women differently and have double standards when reacting to the way a woman behaves versus a man.
Bekaar: ‘Equal Not Loose’ by Bumble
In recent times, the campaign I least liked was Bumble – ‘Equal Not Loose’. It’s the most defensive campaign in the garb of being progressive.
Deepa Geethakrishnan, national creative director, Lowe Lintas
Best: #LikeAGirl by Always (P&G)
One of my all-time favourite campaigns is the Always #LikeAGirl campaign. It really makes us introspect, reflect on years of social conditioning, and want to challenge it. When a brand holds up the mirror in this manner, it really does stand a chance to influence behaviour in society, as a whole.
Bekaar: By and large, while brands are becoming more sensitive on how genders are portrayed, we really have a long way to go. However, the good part is slowly but surely, both gender sensitivity and un-stereotyping are becoming core to the cultural vocabulary of brands. And this in turn, over time, could have a positive impact on society at large.