How Pantene India is transforming into a doer with #FreedomHair

Freedom Hair is a new brand campaign from Pantene India. Targeted towards the young Indian females with an intention to find a connection between keeping hair open and freedom

I grew up in a male-dominated family. I was immune to the problems faced by girls. Why did my sister (cousin) make faces while walking into her school with a tightly tied oiled hair? I would never understand. Poor girl would wait for the weekend so that she could shampoo and sit in the sun. She looked beautiful with her long hair but would hardly show off. Society accepts girls who tie their hair.

According to our society and families, open hair not only makes your hair weak but attracts negative forces. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an organization that dreams of a Hindu Rashtra states, “We must have noticed in horror movies where female ghosts have loose hair all the time while mythological movies show women with hair tied as plaits or buns. All-female Deities have their long hair tied up, except when they are on a mission to destroy demonic forces.”

What would she do when no one was around? Open her hair, sit in peace and do things she wanted. That was freedom for her. Looking back at my school days, the majority of girls would untie their hair and be themselves.

The definition of freedom is different for all of us. For an actor, model and DJ Paloma Monappa, freedom mean to do things that make her happy. Her motto is, “Life is super shot it is important to chase your dreams and not restrict yourself to just one particular thing. Just not being afraid to do what you dreamt to be.”

If freedom for Paloma is happiness, then for Dutee Chand (Indian professional sprinter and current national champion in the women’s 100 meters) it is being honest to herself. Earlier this year she became the first Indian athlete to openly acknowledge being gay. Dutee decided to come out in open about her relationship after the Indian Supreme Court legalized to decriminalise gay sex in 2018. Obviously the decision was denounced by her own family members and large sections of the society. However, she believes in being true to herself. “I have found someone who is my soulmate. I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love. I’ll do what’s right, no matter what people say.”

Pantene India’s Freedom Hair campaign

Freedom Hair stories of these successful female individuals are also the brand belief of P&G owned haircare brand Pantene. Freedom Hair is a new brand campaign targeted towards the young Indian females with an intention to find a connection between keeping hair open and freedom. The campaign has launched a video that wants young India to chase her dreams and live them rather than just thinking about it. Opening the hair won’t just do, real freedom will come when you break the shackles.

Created by advertising agency Grey India, the film features eight women who are defying conventions. I felt more connected with the Hindi version, it has the impact of lyricist Javed Akhtar.

The digital extension of Freedom Hair

In addition to the video, social media channels are busy promoting and creating content around it. However, the big piece of the campaign is the prominent presence on the website. It just shows the brand’s belief on the website(the only property that brands own in the social media age) and how serious it is about with its brand belief for the #FreedomHair campaign.

The website is also a content hub for articles such as “Your 2-minute guide to deal with hair fall.” The Hairfall Guide placed right at the top is the ultimate guide from the right products, to reasons of hair fall, and hair advisor quiz that is designed to recommend you personalized products. While I don’t have hair fall problems but the hair advisor quiz is a no brainer quiz to get the right products.

However, I don’t see why the content from the website is not being promoted on social media. Something the brand should work with its agency on building the content hub if it wants to be a thought leader in the space. Pantene should be the savior from hair fall across all mediums. (Read: Why brands need to think like publishers)

Finding the brand purpose

Open hair adds a new dimension to your personality but has its own challenges. One of the primary reasons is keeping open hair results in hair fall. Taking this as insight Pantene has designed its new product Advanced Hair Fall Solution that is aimed at substantially reducing hair fall. (I haven’t tested the product.)

Generally, brands in India prefer to be the initiator of a conversation and hardly go the last mile. Pantene India is breaking the thinking in a small way. While it is trying to be the savior of hair fall, it is also working on how it can impact by standing true to the vision it has chalked with the new campaign. According to the brand it has tied up with Sattva, a mission-driven organisation that creates scalable solutions for social impact. “This unique partnership aims to help young girls across India embrace the power of Freedom Hair & become the narrators of their own story.”

As a part of this association, Pantene with Sattva will inspire action among young girls through engaging workshops & internships across diverse careers and passion areas, giving them the freedom to pursue their dreams.

In 2018, survey, designed and commissioned by the non-profit Naandi Foundation, shared 60% of women in India—even young women currently in their early twenties—are already married by age 20. Rural women and poorer women get married earlier.

Nearly 75% of the surveyed teenage girls said they wanted to work after they finished their studies. However, just half of the women aged 20-49 were either working or looking for work, according to the 2011 Census, with domestic chores, including child-rearing, taking up their time.

The story of urban girls is slightly different, they want to get married late as they have a better chance to give wings to their career and dreams. This is also the target audience for Pantene who is present on digital, will connect to the brand stories and might make a preference to buy the new product of Pantene. Saying that the association with Sattva is a move in the right direction to make a bigger impact and finding a largely untapped audience. Why not collaborate with TikTok’s Edutok and be on a platform where the untapped audience is spending time.

Haircare industry in India

January 2019, Nielsen India’s report revealed, the hair care industry has evolved to a base of Rs 22,500 crore. Nourishment and maintenance products account for around 48% of the market, followed by problem solutions brands contributing to 41% of the haircare market.

The report further reveals that urban consumers are more extravagant. “They spend three times as much on hair care products as those in rural areas and have moved beyond basic hair care products.” The rural market contributes 54% to the segment, the urban 44%, the report noted.

P&G the parent company of Pantene understands the role rural plays. The company recently said that it expanded sales by 14%, helped by rural expansion and new products while net profit rose 59% due to focus on higher-margin portfolio.

P&G also has two listed subsidiaries in India - Procter & Gamble Health & Hygiene. The unlisted arm that sells Tide detergent, Pampers diapers and Pantene shampoo in India posted sales of Rs 6,001 crore with a net profit of Rs 616.4 crore during the year to March 2019, according to financials sourced from Veratech.

Will the new campaign have an impact on the sales of Pantene India? We won’t know that from verified sources but the brand is investing in product, packaging, marketing, and distribution to make a dent in the sales figure. We also have the CSR aspect to the campaign, thus ticking all checkboxes of a successful marketing campaign.

Freedom is when you have the independence to make your own choices. In our society largely girls or women are not allowed to make their choices. Pantene is giving them a simple choice to keep the hair open and break the norms that are stopping them to chase their dreams.

With Freedom Hair campaign Pantene India is transforming into a doer.