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Consumers don’t want advertising bullsh*t

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A view from Jason Foo...

WARC’s ‘Lessons from the world’s best campaigns’ session at Cannes Lions was an impressive showcase in how brands ought to focus less on talk, and more on action.

Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer; Rajat Mendhi, EVP Planning; and Hemant Shringy, Executive Creative Director of BBDO India came on stage to share some takeaways from Procter & Gamble’s ‘#ShareTheLoad’ for Ariel.

The work earned an impressive $10million in earned media publicity, and led to value and volume sales for the detergent increasing by more than 100%. “I never realised the power of what we do until now,” said Paul. “It was an emotional catharsis for families. It made me think again about what I did with my clothes. It made me more sensitive to a lot of things.”

The campaign provoked national debate around why women in India do all the household chores. It leveraged on-pack ‘his and her’ versions. It included labels which stated that clothes could be washed by men as well as women. It even included a tick-box asking whether you would share the household chores on one of the country’s most popular matchmaking sites.

“Sales went up … but most importantly, it created a shift in mindset,” said Paul.

The session included some genuinely insightful takeaways. Mendhi pointed out that, while we’ve all heard the phrase ‘content is king’, all too often we forget that - partly because there is so much content out there – it’s context that’s ‘king kong’.

“A point of view matters more than a point of differentiation,” he added. “The majority of consumers don’t think their brand is different. So, to grab attention you need a point of view.”

“Ariel is good at removing clothes stains, but the bigger purpose was to remove the cultural stain of gender inequality … It wasn’t just ‘one wash stain removal’, but ‘one wash stain removal, no matter who does it’.”

Shringy warned that we can become ‘highly narcissistic’ about our brand, whereas empathy is ‘universal currency’.

“It’s not just insights, it’s how you incite”. You have to ask what you want people to do, he said – hence Ariel’s use of wash labels and its inclusion of question on matchmaking site, Jeevansathi.com.

While advertisers are always asked to think outside the box, it’s important, too, to ‘think inside the category’, he added, in order to avoid a generic piece of work with a very tenuous connection with the brand and product. We’ve all seen too much of those.

“Create acts, not ads”, concluded Paul: “Consumers don’t want advertising bullshit. Show some commitment first, and then advertise.”

Jason Foo is CEO at BBD Perfect Storm. 

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