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AD BREAK

Razor sharp
With its new campaign set in UP's Banwari Tola, Gillette is cutting into stereotypes and winning hearts, all at once

Shruti Venkatesh

Much like films, advertisements too play a huge role in influencing culture. Arguably, a viewer is exposed to an ad multiple times and on varied channels, making the reinforcement much stronger. Brands therefore need to be extra cautious of the message they convey while promoting the product or service. Understanding this responsibility, Gillette pivoted from its earlier aspirational tagline, ‘The Best a Man Can Get’ to a more inspirational tagline, ‘The Best a Man Can Be’ in January this year. The global campaign aims to challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man. As an extension of this campaign, Gillette India has launched a beautiful campaign that not just challenges gender stereotypes, but also narrates a real-life, heart-warming story of two girls who defied all odds.

The campaign, called ‘Shaving Stereotypes’, nudges young boys to question the stereotypes passed down to them and get them to rethink these notions. “It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. Our actions need to inspire us all to be better every day, and to help create a new standard for boys to admire and for men to achieve,” says Karthik Srivatsan, associate director and country category leader, shave care, Indian Sub-Continent, at P&G.

In the ad, which is almost two-and-half minutes long, the audience is introduced to a young boy who innocently voices the gender stereotypes he has been exposed to — boys inherit their father’s business while girls inherit household work such as cooking and cleaning. Not surprisingly, the boy is taken aback when, at a barber shop, a girl comes forward to shave his father’s beard. He immediately asks his father how he can allow a girl to shave him, to which his father, after a moment’s pause, says, “a razor doesn’t know whether it is a boy or a girl using it”. This statement, in a nutshell, reflects that jobs need not be defined by the gender.

Gillette’s commercial is based on the on true story of two girls, Jyoti and Neha Narayan, who reside in Banwari Tola, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. When their father fell sick, the two girls took up the task of running their father’s barber shop. While they initially disguised as boys, they slowly won the acceptance of villagers and were even awarded by the government earlier this year. And the company has done a remarkable job in highlighting their story and weaving in their brand.

Besides having a gripping narrative, the commercial also reinforces gender equality through their background music. The music is inspired by Sohar, which is a folk song sung in celebration of the birth of a boy. The twist comes in the end with the lyrics urging people to celebrate the birth of a girl with equal happiness.

It might be noted that this is the first Gillette commercial that features two girls as its protagonists. Sandipan Bhattacharyya, chief creative officer, Grey Group India, says that this was a necessary step as these two girls have emerged as positive role models who’re inspiring change. “Through the story of these two girls, we wished to highlight the deeply ingrained stereotypes in our society and the subliminal ways they’re passed on. But more importantly it shows how examples can have a far-reaching effect on the mind of a child, be it for better or worse,” he sums up.

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