#The6PackBand: India Gets Its First Transgender Band, Courtesy Red Label

Y Films and Brooke Bond Red Label are steering on determined to tackle the ostracization of Indian transgenders with a rock band, their first single is a desi cover of Happy by Pharrell Williams

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Advertising for a tea brand is not just about the sheer aroma of the roasted tea leaves anymore. Hindustan Unilever Ltd, with its longstanding mission to bring about social change via each of its sub-brands, has chosen its tea brand Brooke Bond Red Label as a catalyst in ‘melting differences’ and ‘brewing togetherness’ in Indian society.

In each piece of brand communication, one sees a strong message establishing the brand proposition – ‘“Swad Apnepan Ka” or the “Taste of Togetherness”. The brand has been picking up social issues like religious divide, live-in relationships and now gender inequality in the country.

Red Label’s latest endeavour has given India its first transgender band – The 6 Pack Band, in association with Y-Films, the youth wing of Yash Raj Films. The 6 Pack Band make their debut single with ‘Hum Hain Happy’, claiming to be 2016’s happiest song. It’s basically a desi cover of Happy by Pharrell Williams.

The 6 Pack Band comprises six transgender singers hailing from India’s ‘Hijra’ community. Their strife to be ‘happy’ stems from their failure to be a part of our society, to live and work as equals, to blend in equally as the third gender.

The 6 Pack Band has a dedicated Twitter handle that’s been retweeting every bit the world has to say about the band. Additionally, the social media properties of Y Films has also been amplifying the band’s first single. Y Films has been a proponent of gender equality in India with its web only series focused on gender biases in Indian society.

A win-win transgender campaign

This is a social media win for both brands involved, Y films and Red Label tea. Taking on the issues of a marginalized community like the hijras is a great way to start off the year. Red Label has been carefully differentiating itself with its association around taboo subjects, that most brands usually shy away from.

For a tea brand, not only is this a refreshing brand positioning but also a cool way to connect with Gen Y, the so called millennial generation that hardly bothers about boring tea commercials on television, but is most certain to recall Red Label the next time it goes tea shopping. Partnering with Y Films has further added to its youth appeal in this digitally-driven video consumption age. Do read “7 Best Indian Brand Campaigns Of 2015 With Bolder Themes”.

Earlier, Red Label’s 2014 ad had created quite a stir when it portrayed a reluctant Hindu family turning into good friends with their Muslim neighbour, over a few cups of Red Label tea. The ad was both appreciated for its subtle preaching on the religious divide in the country as well as slammed for showcasing Hindus as intolerant and unwelcoming towards Muslims.

Its 2015 ad touched upon a taboo subject like ‘live-in relationships’ stirring up the generation divide and quite a few thoughts on the status of the daughter-in-law/would-be daughter-in-law. A guy is paid a surprise visit by his parents, when they realise he is in a live-in relationship with his girlfriend. The girlfriend then wins them over with Red Label tea. The ad was labelled progressive for supporting ‘live-in relationships’ as well as regressive for having portrayed the girl as someone who needs to please the parents of the boy.

The Red Label 6 Pack Band is only receiving ‘happy’ sentiments on social media. Though it does remind me of The Seatbelt Crew, a public service initiative on road safety by VithU and O&M Mumbai launched in 2014, where a group of hijras dressed as plane cabin crew encourage the use of seatbelts.