Power of Choice

Dove and Ogilvy India shatter stereotypes around beautiful hair by celebrating women who dared to break norms

What is the one thing that comes to mind as soon as you hear the word ‘shampoo commercial’? The answer will most likely be women with ‘straight, long, black hair’ that is shiny and frizz-free. This is because, for a long time, hair care brands have made them the definition of beautiful hair without considering that every woman’s tresses have different texture, style and colour. Though unintentional, such stereotyping can lead to feelings of self-doubt or negative self-image among women whose hair doesn’t fit into this mould.

Realising the need for a change, Hindustan Unilever’s personal care brand Dove launched a unique campaign, called #AapkeBaalAapkiMarzi. Literally translating to ‘Your hair, your wish’, it aims to create awareness and break the narrow definition of beauty. “Our endeavour is to change mindset, address archaic, pre-defined stereotypes and celebrate the individuality and independence of women,” says Harman Dhillon, VP, hair care, Hindustan Unilever.

Under this campaign, Dove and Ogilvy India have created three films, each conveying the message that every woman has a right to decide how she wears her hair. In the first one, we meet Huda, a motorcyclist, whose hair turned grey early on. Despite being chided by family members, she refuses to colour it. The next film introduces us to a professional ballet dancer called Pia, who was told that she has everything going for her except her curly hair. Instead of straightening it, she decides to wear her curls as proudly as she wears her ballet shoes. The third film narrates the story of Farishte, a copywriter, whose boyfriend refused to take her to meet his parents after she cut her hair short because it felt like he was “dating a guy”. But she didn’t let that deflate her self-esteem.

Interestingly, these films are stories of real women, unearthed through rigorous countrywide interviews. “The women we finally chose were those who were left in a dilemma at some stage in their lives, all because they didn’t conform to society’s idea of beautiful hair. But instead of succumbing to societal bondage, they stood their ground and emerged more triumphant,’ says Zenobia Pithawalla, senior ECD, Ogilvy India (West). These stories were then interspersed with the results of a survey conducted by the brand in collaboration with Hansa Research. Some of the key findings include – 63% Indians feel that women who grey before time must colour their hair, 81% feel women should not keep their hair curly and 87% think women should not keep it  short.

To sum up, the simple and slick story telling make this a great marketing campaign. But more importantly, the combination of anecdotes backed by strong research show that this is a genuine effort by the brand to challenge the status quo.