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Stereotypes make a quiet exit

Stereotypes make a quiet exit

Designing a creative for laundry products is a fairly straightforward task. Show a lady trying to get a tiresome stain out of a garment, and then pop in the product and voila, there is the gleaming clothing.

Except that in 2015, P&G’s Ariel brand decided there was something wrong with this narrative. Why was laundry deemed to be a woman’s job?

That is when it decided to challenge the gender inequality existing in most Indian households with the #ShareTheLoad campaign. It wove a series of print, broadcast and digital promotions to ignite conversations about gender parity and followed it in 2016 with ‘Dads Share The Load’ and in 2019 with Sons #ShareTheLoad.

P&G’s Ariel came up with the #ShareTheLoad campaign for three years.

Talking about devising this campaign, Josy Paul, Creative Director, BBDO said, “We were looking for a deeper message. We wanted to realign ourselves with the evolved cultural context. Today’s society is not the same as it was two years ago. Similarly, family and couple dynamics are not the same.”

Increasingly, gender-specific ads are being viewed as an outdated notion in an evolving world where concepts like shared economy and MeToo movement are gaining ground. Reading the writing on the wall, retail brands and their marketing agencies are design campaigns that moves beyond various stereotypes, including gender, age, spending patterns, demographics, etc.

According to a recent global survey report by Kantar, 76% female and 88% male marketers worldwide believe that they avoid gender stereotypes when making adverts. And the results are evident.

For instance, Ford came up with an ad during Raksha Bandhan last year featuring actress Kalki Koechlin, where she ties the rakhi on her wrist and then drives away in an Ecosport SUV – underlining that the urbane woman is capable of looking after herself and her safety.

This campaign was aimed at the growing trend of women buying cars. Rahul Gautam, VP, marketing, Ford India, said, “The concept draws its strength from research and data, which depict that from being a key influencer deciding on the colour a decade ago, the role of women in car buying has evolved. According to Ford’s New Car Buyer Study, the women, many of them being first-time car owners, are going beyond aesthetics to understand different technologies. Women drive more than 10% of Ford sales in India, a trend sure to grow thanks to affluent upbringing, the rise in education levels and an increase in career opportunities.”


Cereno Simoes, head of marketing, Superdry.

Experts believe that stereotypes or even identifying customers by just personas is an apathetic marketing tactic. Today, one cannot win in marketing by just staying in the treetops.

Cereno Simoes, head of marketing at Superdry, said, “While stereotypes might work in making quick broader decisions, it is erroneous when applied to a particular customer. Customers are ‘individuals’, so, we cannot peg them into mass impersonal groups. You need to get down to the basic by understanding their needs and creating a tailor-made package.”

Mohit Dhanjal, Business Head, Shirting (B2C) at Raymond Ltd explained that in the digital VUCA world, brands have moved beyond stereotyping the products just from data (age and purchase power) to mapping consumer psychographics. Herein, product, service and communication is based on consumer attitudes and interests and likes.

“This is studied in conjunction with demographic data, which helps build complete profiles of target markets and audiences. It is pertinent to ensure speed-to-market is a top priority and get faster rolls outs of product and services. For us, this is the key to our insight of conceptualizing and rolling out 300 Mini TRS stores in the last two years,” he added.

Lloyd’s‘unisex washing machine ad.


Marketers consider stereotyping is not just lazy marketing but can also be harmful to the brand. Elaborating on this, Cereno said that in this day and age, there is no excuse for marketers not knowing what their customers want. There are ample tools available that give insights and data points on various stages of the customer journey.

“Though with more data comes more complexities, there is a real urgency to rise to the challenge amongst marketers and if we don’t, we could become irrelevant,” he added.

Kantar also found that 98% of the people targeted for baby products, laundry products and household cleaners are female, quite forgetting that both genders might be equal stakeholders in the purchase decision. Hence, Lloyd washing machine’s ad where the wife asks the salesman to show a ‘unisex’ model while shopping with her husband, hit the right message home.

Mohit pointed out that marketers are using consumer psychographics to help build stronger engagement between consumers and brands as it helps in marketing create relevant customer segmentations, identifying consumer steps in customer journey, creating engaging content and curating the product range.

Raymond, which came up with the eponymous tagline ‘The Complete Man’, also released an ad where the husband decides to stay at home with their young child, so that wife can drive to work without worries. Focused marketing strategies like these are more efficient in achieving the brand’s goal and reaching out to the contemporary audience.

Mohit said, “Know thy customer is a must for all marketers regardless of the industry. In a country like India where lifestyle differs widely from region to region, understanding consumer psychographic is of great significance to the marketer with context to culture, social and demographics influencing psychology and buying habit.”

Vanilla marketing no longer works while talking to an audience that is smarter, more informed and therefore, more demanding. With the availability of so many brands, customers seek brands that they can relate to.


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