#AmPrettyTough: Dabur Gulabari Wants Us To Look Beyond Looks But The Social Experiment Looks Fake

The brand is striving to shed off its traditional image, but the campaign looked fake and forced upon, characters indulged in too much shock and left me feeling cynical


Jaahnavi Sriperambuduru is the story of true mettle. At the tender age of 10 months, she was exposed to hilly terrains, while accompanying her mountaineer dad in a specially designed backpack. Her early childhood days included a tough workout regimen – morning walks, cycling expeditions and diet restrictions. At 10 years, she completed nearly 2 high altitude treks, 5 national treks and around 25 local treks, along with other adventure sports like rafting, para sailing, rappelling, and jumaring.

At 13, she created a world record by climbing the highest mountain peak in Europe, Mt. Elbrus. The young girl is on a mission, the ‘Mission7Summit’ to conquer all the highest peaks of all the 7 continents in the world. She has already made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2014 and Mt. Elbrus in Europe in 2015, and is preparing to scale Mt Everest in Asia this year. And, she is all of 13 going on 14.

On the other side is Dabur Gulabari, the skin care brand from Dabur whose major target consumer group is teenaged girls with the brand claiming to give them rosy looking skin, through its skin care products bolstered with the essence of roses. “Gulabi chehre ka raaz… Pani Nahin, Dabur Gulabari,” the brand communication reflects the stereotypical perception of beauty as ‘rose-like complexion’.

And so, like all other skin care brands, Dabur Gulabari should have also roped in a beautiful, young model as the face of the brand. Its campaigns should have demonstrated how its products protect a teen’s skin from tough weather, stress, dust and the sun. But, it chooses to steer clear from advertising any of its benefits; it has, instead, brought on board the tough young mountaineer, Jaahnavi as the voice of its latest campaign ‘#AmPrettytough’!

In what is clearly another spoke in the brand’s ladder of enabling gender equality in our society, the new campaign is aimed at breaking existing stereotypes in perceiving women. ‘#AmPrettyTough’ is a social experiment and an ad rolled into one.

Created by Contract Advertising, the film opens in a room full of men and women who are given placards with a list of hobbies. While they are all waiting in anticipation, they are shown an image of a girl, and asked to guess her hobby. Most of them are seen choosing ‘feminine’ hobbies like painting, fashion, ballet dancing, baking, etc. In comes Jaahnavi and proves them wrong. The group is shocked to know her hobby is mountaineering, and further shell-shocked when they are made aware of her stellar mountaineering feats.

The social experiment makes a poignant statement when Jaahnavi holds a placard with the question – “Why should tough girls look tough?” The super says, “Let’s look beyond looks” while staying focused on #AmPrettyTough. The range of Dabur Gulabari products at the end make for the only branding here.

The concept is not a novel one, but nevertheless makes great branding sense for a skin care brand. #AmPrettyTough has brought together two unlikely partners – the prettiness of roses and the toughness of the human spirit. Dabur Gulabari’s Facebook page has rolled out a proper product ad too, featuring the pretty tough Jaahnavi:

Powerful idea. Millennial-focused. Lacking in authenticity

Dabur Gulabari is striving to shed off its image as a traditional beauty brand, and what better way to do it than rope in a real life hero and also bust our typical judging parameters while at it. Judging someone by their looks is so hardwired within all of us, that I too was stunned to know the dainty looking girl was an established mountaineer at this impressionable age. Teenaged girls out there would certainly be inspired by Jaahnavi and associate with Dabur Gulabari. The big problem, however, was the social experiment film – it looked fake and forced upon, characters indulged in too much shock and left me feeling cynical about the whole thing.

To create a classic ad on a similar concept is to walk the path of the greats – Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, P&G’s #AlwaysLikeAGirl that looked like authentic social experiments. Nike’s ‘I Feel Pretty’ featuring Maria Sharapova also tried to bust that pretty cannot be tough. These campaigns immediately won over their audience and made them believe in the message. #AlwaysLikeAGirl managed to become a movement, an empowering hashtag for young girls, while establishing P&G Always as a purpose-driven brand for the millennial girl.

Dabur’s hair care brand, Vatika did make many heads turn last year with the launch of ‘Brave and Beautiful’. The ad campaign paid tribute to woman cancer survivors by featuring the story of a young mother reclaiming her regular life post cancer. A 4-minute film starred a bald woman as the protagonist who has survived cancer and is now back to regular life at home and her workplace.

With more and more beauty brands in the spectrum, it has become imperative for brands to stand out from the clutter and not lose out in winning over the new age consumer. And while they are at it, they need to create a change in society, trigger a social conversation around what societal trends adversely affect their consumer group, and they need to do it with credible stories. Dabur Gulabari’s #AmPrettyTough is armed with a powerful idea but the fake execution fails to deliver.