A Man’s perspective on Women’s Day campaigns

Advertising campaigns that made a difference on this International Women’s Day 2020

My Grandmother with the help of 4 cows and meagre pension from the Railways raised 9 children(6 daughters and 3 sons) in a 1 BHK railway quarter. This is a story before I was born. My mother was the youngest of all of them and she told me how 15 people along with the cows would live in a small house. Shakuntala Devi – my grandmother never went to a school, got married at a very early age to a man who would spend more time drinking. But she was one kick ass soul – a father, mother, caretaker of the entire family for her entire life.

By the time I was born and got senses she was old. During school vacations, I would visit her from Hadia to Kharagpur – a three-hour train ride. She didn’t like me much but I admired her daily routine. Every single day she would get up at 4 am, do all the work related to cows while cursing all of us that we are lazy. By the time I would get up, her half of the day was over. She was stubborn, dominating and she was a hell of a lady doing everything that you can think of it.

When I moved to Pune in 2001 for MCA, destiny brought me in front of a 60-year-old strong and charming Marathi lady. I was looking for a flat to stay and she had one room up for a tenant. She accepted me within 10 minutes of talking and for the next 5 years, I was her son. Over the next 5 years – I saw her losing her husband, telling me stories about how she used to work in the Indian postal department, teaching me Marathi, letting me cook in her kitchen and how she educated both her daughters and finally helped them get married.

She never kept a house help and would do all her work on her own. I had often told her that she should keep one – “I am still young to do all my work on my own.” She was way ahead in her time – educated, informed and independent.

Also, she is one of them who would commute long distances to meet her responsibilities. So when Uber releases a fact like this “3 in 5 women in India limit their opportunities to 1 km from home” in its latest Women’s Day Campaign I feel it is less about the celebration of International Women’s Day and more about its services. #WithinHerReach a campaign to bridge the gender commute gap takes the source from a LiveMint 2019 article which again is based on the data from the 2011 census.

Frankly, Uber India needs to take a Mumbai local train ride. However, women are the first ones to sacrifice their career in front of family responsibilities. Women have done it, they do it every single day across societies and borders. Society has accepted it as a norm but it isn’t right. But for the majority of brands International Women’s Day is nothing but a topical content. From playing the same stereotype creative outputs to selling product discounts we have been spinning the same wheel.

Olay India has smartly brought the skin factor while showing the young woman as a rebel and who loves to do things her way. The fascination towards a white glowing skin will not die at least in my lifetime.

Internationally Olay has launched a Women In STEM program in collaboration with Aiken High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ten female students were selected to participate in a day-long immersion at Olay Body’s Mason Innovation lab with a team of female scientists. The students attended panels and participated in lab experiments, and each was awarded a $10,000 college scholarship.

But how do girls feel about creative ads that showgirls dancing and jumping in white pants during their periods? Obviously not a great sign when your body is aching and having cramps. JioSaavn takes the simple route in a sensible manner without going overboard.

Netflix India takes a similar pun on how brands are bombarding with women’s day deals and promotions everywhere. But today’s lady knows how to ignore all such messages but go to bed with Netflix. Obviously when the streaming giant is competing with human sleep patterns.

Definitely the advertising industry needs more creative women so that they can tell better stories related to women. Men understand jack shit about women problems and not just the advertising industry but also the music industry. This is the call from Spotify India which highlights that only 20% of the artists in the audio industry are women. While it is US data, the music industry needs more female artists.

With majority of the financial giants going the way of educating women to own their finances and be their own bosses, Kotak Mahindra Bank had a simple video where the queen of Indian track and field Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha clapped for the new breed of Indian sportswomen who are taking their respective sport and the country to new heights.

Playing sports in India is still looked like a hobby and not a profession. And if she is a lady then it won’t be an easy task to battle from internal and external challenges. Dutee Chand is the first Indian woman to ever win a gold in 100mts at the World Universiade. However, everything was questioned when she opened up about her being in a same-sex relationship. According to her family support has kept her going and her inspiring story is SBI Life’s offering to its customers on this Women’s Day.

This year Women’s Day is jam-packed with campaigns not just in India but all over the world. Suddenly women are important and so will be the debate on gender equality, celebrating women power every day, equality, a happy place to work, etc.. These are the buzzwords for this decade and marketers are going to milk it to the extent in the name of brand purpose. (For the entire list of Women’s Day Campaigns, click on Social Samosa and BrandEquity)

Along with JioSaavn, MTV(making a statement with the fascination of Aunties for Bra Straps) and Shoppers Stop #RecycleForHerCycle stands out for me.

Shoppers Stop wants you to donate your old/used clothes to be converted into sanitary pads. According to the brand and its partner Sustain Plus, this is going to be a movement and not just a one-day activity. “For every 1 kg of clothes donated generates employment for 2 marginalized women, and helps them generate sanitary pads for the entire community.”

To get the much-needed attention the brand has line up Bollywood celebs to speak about the campaign on social media.

 

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But my favourite happens to be a campaign that speaks about women who might not know what Women’s Day stands for. These are your poor women labourers who work in the sugarcane fields. They are forced to remove their uteruses because for them menstrual leads to financial losses. While they do support their families but this step also leads to severe health problems including death.

Healthians want to stop this practise and take your voice to the right authorities in the government. For that, you need to sign this Change.org initiative and hope we find some serious listeners. After all, they are also women even though they might not relate to Women’s Day.

My grandmother or my landlord lady would hardly bother women’s day programs if they were alive today. Because they wouldn’t wait for the world to change instead they would change things on their own.

From my understanding(a 41-year-old man) – women today are not looking for the extra love and care for a particular day(a bit of love and care is doable). Family and society make them strong from the day theyare born. And we men should also take some credit in this.

What they require is to be treated with respect (in front of family, friends and peers) and equality (equal pay is one of the top priorities)