Ah, yet another women’s day. It’s one of those days when so many businesses and brands want to jump on the bandwagon, make women “feel good” about themselves on that day and in the bargain increase their business. Be it restaurants offering a free drink to every woman who walks in that day or the so-called Women’s Day discounts on all possible shopping brands. As for the bigger brands, a lot of them come out with campaigns where it is the same old trope of women achievers and how they should be respected.
But, this year I noticed a few campaigns that used this occasion more to start conversations on things that matter than use the day for decorative purposes. In fact, as I dug deeper I realised that there are quite a few especially on the Money and Career front (two of my passions) that are worth listing and talking about. This post in a way also falls squarely in the intersection of my two passions for Personal Finance and Marketing. So, below are five ad campaigns that made me sit up, notice, mull and really ponder on the topic at hand. The first three are fresh off the press having been released in the last few days, while the last two are slightly dated being about 2 years old. If like me, ad campaigns intrigue you, check out my other favorite Personal Finance ad campaigns.
With each instance, the video of the ad is followed by my take on it. After all, what’s the point of a blog if not to use it as a space for my uninterrupted view point 🙂
#BillInTheMiddle – Axis Bank
While I will always have a soft spot for the place where I last worked as a marketer, this was also the first ad I saw yesterday that set the ball on this conversation rolling.
Initially, I thought it was way too subtle and probably making a mountain out of a mole hill. Since marketing campaigns remain one of the passionately discussed subjects between me and my husband, I immediately sent this one to him. He simply said how impressed he was and how this beautiful piece of communication has sprung up from a strong yet simple insight.
As I absorbed what he said, it started making sense to me. Even as a lot of women in the Indian society have started earning and probably even outpacing the men in some instances, society still chooses to see men as the default mode of payment when available. In some ways, it aids the mindset that even if women earn they might as well use the possibly tiny amount as their pocket money.
Since I often dine out on my own I have never really noticed this disparity earlier. But then I remembered what happened when I took my team out for dinner last month. It was a table for twelve with me being the only woman. At the end of the meal, the server pretty much ignored my outstretched hand asking for the check, hovering it over multiple male hands before finally zeroing in on me.
Although I believe it will take quite some time for these deep-rooted, possibly seen as harmless instances to really change, talking about it and noticing is the first step to getting there. And I am glad we are getting started on this.
#TheTalk – HDFC Life
A topic which is becoming more and more important with time. As I have often pointed out, the Indian financial landscape is evolving and getting complicated all the time. When we were growing up, we learnt mostly by watching our parents save it up in cash, deposits or gold.
In my case, to be fair my father did try quite a bit to have “The Talk” with me. But, eventually I still hated going even within a 500 metre radius of a bank branch or talking anything money. If not for destiny pretty much shoving me to work with a bank, I probably would have remained at the fringes of financial literacy.
It is heart warming to see HDFC Life starting this conversation of almost giving forward your financial education as a legacy. As for the execution, naming it “The Talk” gave it the impression of being as important as the birds & bees one which earned it even more brownie points with me.
“The Divide” #FinanciallyEqual – Paytm
An interesting social experiment, my biggest takeaway from the campaign was how basic financial education or empowerment can create quite a large gap in life. What I liked was how it started with very generic topics moving on to mostly money / personal finance based questions, giving it equal weightage to life skills like cooking.
But, as there was a discussion on a whatsapp group I realised a major flaw in this communication. One of the main words used is “unassisted”. Have you bought a vehicle in your own name without consulting anyone (Who does that?) Have you bought a life insurance policy unassisted? Do you manage your own finances and earnings unassisted?
My guess is that the reason for specifically using this word lies in the details of the advertiser. Paytm finally is trying to promote the DIY platform of investing and probably other financial products. Hence, guilt-empowering people to do things Finance on their own could be a thought-out move in this case.
Another thing that I didn’t like was the morose and preachy tone towards the end with the excessive voice bytes. Better editing would have definitely appealed more to me.
#BalanceEveryDay – ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund
This one deals with the perennial topic of unpaid labour by women. While the data is updated pretty regularly, the latest report I could find was this one in Indian Express which states that women spend 238 more minutes more on unpaid work every day in India than men. Somehow in the Indian society, this conditioning of household work division on the basis of gender is so deeply entrenched.
The campaign above made it quite clear what all would encompass this four hours every day (16% of the day!). In that respect, I think Ariel started the conversation in a most meaningful way with their #ShareTheLoad campaign. If anything, Covid made the unpaid labour situation so much worse for most women while making it a much more visible issue for some men. All the more reason to reiterate this campaign and probably replicate this social experiment in more settings with more respondents.
#BeTheChange – HDFC Bank
I found this campaign ironic and refreshing. In some ways, it was almost like a back story to how the video even got made. The bickering between the two younger ones also felt so real where so many men feel that in the name of discrimination women have it easier. Also, when men put on the empathy hat for women, without really checking in to see what the woman herself might want was another good addition.
As for the topic on hand, last year I read up quite a bit last year on women and work. Globally, post maternity high percentages of women drop out of the labour force. In some ways, the ad puts the onus of breaking the stereotype on the woman being stubborn about wanting it all. Although that matches with my mindset how you sometimes need to snatch liberation, it may not sit with all the feminists out there whereby a set saw that problem even with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.
While this ad still makes the protagonist to be a super hero for rocking work and life, in my utopian books, true nirvana will be when doing that will not require super powers. Till then, I am happy enough for us to be talking about and tackling these issues head on.
Those were the five brand campaigns that made me see Women’s Day as an occasion worth marking. As for the rest, I am still scrolling my phone to see if there is an offer worthy enough to make me feel good this Women’s Day!
Don’t forget to check out the Women’s Day posts from previous years:
2020: My Women’s Day Wishlist
2019: My thoughts on Feminism
2018: 3-part blogger roundup series