By Pete Hayes, Co-founder / Director, PB Creative
Ariel India’s new ‘Dads: share the load’ campaign has certainly struck a chord with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. The social networking giant’s Chief Operating Officer said it was one of the most powerful videos she had ever seen, and millions agree with her. Since she shared the ad on Facebook last week, it has gone viral, with more than 11 million views.
This is a clear indication that brands are using advertising to explore and react to changing attitudes, but when will they start applying this approach to their packaging and design strategies?
The Ariel campaign was created by BBDO India and challenges gender stereotypes with a moving narrative. A father watches his career-minded daughter return from work, make the dinner, clean the house and put the washing on, while her husband sits on the sofa watching TV and he himself plays with her son, his grandson. He writes her a letter – the voiceover for the ad – apologising for the example he has set by letting her mother do all the work in the home, which has passed gender stereotyping from one generation to another.
Now that the father realises the error of his ways, he decides to set a new example, by doing his bit around the house to support her mum.
The campaign is an inspiring call to share the burden of household chores, in particular the washing ‘loads’.
Around the world traditional attitudes towards gender are breaking down, to be slowly replaced by a new state of mind and a new normal when it comes to how we market products and brands.
It’s no longer acceptable or relevant to make household products simply floral and feminine, or DIY products all about masculine power and ‘manliness’, because these concepts themselves are not as rigid and defined as they perhaps used to be.
Take the male grooming market for example: This sector in particular is undergoing a revolution in how its brands are designed, marketed and talked about, because that’s what the market and the world today is calling for.
There’s more to repositioning
However, advertising is only one part of the puzzle when seeding these new messages and repositioning brands and products. It’s a great place to start of course, and will turn a lot of heads and set many tongues wagging. But if brands want to truly break down gender stereotypes and make their products attractive and appealing to wider audiences, they need to get physical.
The packaging of a brand is what connects the theory and the thinking with the audience: it’s the physical manifestation of what that brand stands for and who it is calling out to.
So it’s time for brands like Ariel to take further steps.
If they want men to share the load, they need to think about how their products look on shelf, where they are stocked, and what messages are written on their bottles and their packaging.
Advertising is fundamental in shifting the perception of a brand. But ultimately it is the packaging and formulation of products targeting men that will truly allow brands to achieve credibility, loyalty and success, as these are the physical and most tangible representations of what brands are promising. It’s times for brands to walk the walk as well as talking the talk.