It’s 2016 and homosexuality is still a criminal offence in the Indian society. Section 377 of IPC criminalizing homosexuality predominates LGBT rights and freedom of choice. Amidst much debate, social taboo and divided views, homosexuality still prevails in our society – hidden, disguised and camouflaged in our multi-faceted society. It is now left to a few human rights organizations to fight this regressive outlook.
Or, a few forward-thinking brands to stand up for. ‘Homosexuality’ has been the undisputed flavour of the season, more and more brands are raking up the buzzy subject in their brand campaigns. The latest to join in the ranks is Ebay India in its first campaign in nearly three years, ‘Things don’t Judge’. And it is the ecommerce brand’s festive marketing campaign!
What’s impressive is that Ebay’s ‘Things don’t Judge’ is also sprinkled with a generous dose of other societal stereotypes thriving in India in the areas of gender, class, religion, dignity of work, and more. The ecommerce brand’s marketing campaign, seeks to bust our stereotypical mindsets, while telling us it has over 10 crore products for us this festive season.
The 70-second spot conceptualized by BBDO India is a visual treat. It plays with our rigid minds and then offers a twist, a solution, a new approach towards looking at people. Just like ‘things’ look at people – non-judgmentally.
The ad starts with a ghungroo-clad happy feet dancing away in the rains, and before your mind expects to see a woman, you are welcomed by a guy excited to express his happiness in dance form on the terrace of his flat, oblivious to the woman staring at him in the distance. He argues happily, ‘My ghungroo never tells me it is made only for women.”
There are more sequences, each giving you a mind reality check, via ‘things’ being owned by people: a salwar-clad woman being termed as ‘behenji’ by stylish club goers, but who surprises them (and us) all by riding off on a motorbike! The ad ends with the message that Ebay’s 10 crore products don’t bother with what people say, they only say, “Jeeyo aur jeene do‘ (Live and Let Live).
On the digital front, Ebay India has extended the idea in interesting visual stories. The brand’s been on a roll spreading the message in different forms of content pieces. Its social media feeds have more than made up for the drought it faced earlier. One type of content is about sharing real stories of people who are busting stereotypes in their own way, without bothering what others will say. The campaign message of ‘Things don’t judge’ has been crafted neatly into every piece. The other type of content is to do with busting generic stereotypes.
Additionally, the brand has also roped in an army of Twitter influencers to join the conversation by sharing stories of having judged people erroneously, using the campaign hashtag. Popular page 3 columnist and writer, Shobhaa De has also joined the movement, if we can call it that. Inspired by Ebay’s clarion call to ‘live and let live’, De made amends with Sonam Kapoor for a critically harsh comment on the latter’s sex appeal.
Interestingly, these days, De is very inspired by ecommerce brand campaigns with their messages of sparking change in the society. Amazon India’s recently concluded pre-Diwali sale ‘The Great Indian Festival’ saw it roll out ‘Bade Dil Wale’ urging people to be big-hearted this festive season. De pledged to be kinder on the internet and asked others to follow suit, citing the time when she had unwittingly sparked Twitter outrage during Rio 2016.
Having grabbed eyeballs, Ebay India is now positioning its ‘over 10 crore products’.
eBay getting its spunk back?
eBay India was formed after acquisition of Baazee, the auction site way back in 2004, but looks like it lost the plot to the newcomers: Flipkart, then Snapdeal and much later to Amazon India. With ‘Things Don’t Judge’, eBay India is looking to get back its lost glory, and while at it, also build a positive, progressive, passionate community of open-minded people. ‘Standing up for the discriminated’, is the underlying plot in many brand campaigns catering to the new age consumer, and eBay’s approach isn’t a novel one, especially in 2016.
However, it does stand out in the clutter of ecommerce sites out there, and would need to ‘walk the talk’ for the campaign message to truly trickle down and establish eBay as the ecommerce brand to reckon with. Alongside its festive sale that’s on since September, the brand could carry forward the central message and begin owning it eventually, sale or no sale.
The content created for ‘Things Don’t Judge’ is aligned well with the message. The brand owned content pieces coupled with those of influencers’ has helped amplify the campaign message on social media, and get the conversations going. Taking on various stereotypes in its marketing campaign itself has helped it create headlines in most publications. Hoping it to not die down as a one-time campaign though!