Women have been objectified in media to the point of ridiculousness. Most leading actresses the world over are also victims to this sexist trait. From cars to switch boards, from movies to billboards, scantily clad women are used to increase visibility and help sell these wares to a predominantly male consumer segment. A group of men, however, have decided to go against this norm. And the product they are promoting is a deodorant for men!
HE, Emami’s deodorant brand for men, has teamed up with ace comedian Vir Das for the promotions of its deodorant variant ‘HE Respect’. The ad film features Das taking jibes at popular sexist ads like Katrina’s earlier Slice ads where she is seen making love to a mango, the Axe effect ads, the nude woman in a bathtub ad, the booty shaking body-hugging leather suited woman selling motorcycles, or the swimsuit clad girl selling icecream on a beach.
Conceptualized by Orchard Advertising, 75-second spot is a hilarious watch with the refreshingly funny Das mocking one sexist ad after another. It begins with him seducing a mango seated on a swing dressed in a seductive maroon saree he is absolutely comfortable in. The director tells him to make it more sexy, at that point he finds it ‘odd’.
Next he is seated sexily on a motorcycle in a tight leather suit, next he is in a rose-filled bathtub, then in a beach dressed in a sarong licking icecream, one time he is an angel with wings. Das makes a sarcastic remark about how women don’t have to do all this, and feel objectified, odd, weird, pointless, uncomfortable, or awkward.
Dressed in his man attire now, Das tells men to show women the respect they deserve, while introducing the new product and defining the user: “For real men who respect women.”
On social media, the brand has been sharing the video through its Facebook and Twitter pages, with Vir Das doing all the talking about the new product and its ideology. HE and Das seem to be on a crusade to end the objectification of women by sensitizing men. A link drives viewers to the product website that defines the gentlemen for whom the product is meant – the asli men.
The site speaks of beliefs of an ‘asli‘ man: I don’t believe that there’s a weaker sex, I look into her eyes when I speak to her, I’m not better than her. She’s not better than me. We’re equals. Asli men have been called upon to show their support by sharing their pictures with the hashtag #HERespect.
— Vir Das (@thevirdas) May 16, 2016
— HE Be Interesting (@HeBeInteresting) May 16, 2016
Millennial-focused. Bold. Hilarious
On International Men’s Day last year, the deodorant brand took up the cause of men, but in a hilarious manner. It called upon women to ‘show men some love’ by wearing blue and letting their men do the annoying things they do. Men could respond without stress when asked if their woman was looking fat, they were allowed to snore in the middle of the night, and also leave stinky wet towels in the bathroom, they were allowed a ‘boys night out’ and even the permission to check out waitresses at the restaurant! HE’s #ShowMenSomeLove had capitalized on the day, while roping in many youth influencers to join in too.
The brand had gone bonkers in its advertising and promotions to emerge as a young, fresh-thinking brand for the new generation. This new stand of ‘respecting women’ with a matching product variant this year, could well be the turning point for the brand. In a world ridden with stereotypical deodorant ads objectifying women, HE Respect has chosen a bold path by defining the asli men, one that is a winning move, a clutter-breaking move, particularly because of Das, a popular proponent of gender equality amongst young people.
For a men’s deodorant brand, HE has done remarkably well to gel with Gen-Y and its belief in gender equality. Change may take time but at least the brand has catalyzed the urgency to end objectification of women in media.