Opinion

The Gillette ad represents society ‘taking a step forward’ – says Ogilvy female CCO

Ogilvy India's Kainaz Karmakar offers her take on the Gillette ad as a woman and an ad person

Before I was an advertising professional. Before I was a writer. Before everything, I was a woman.

As a woman, I experienced my first unwanted touch in a swimming pool. From an uncle I trusted. It was just a little touch. One can argue about his innocence. Maybe his hand slipped. Pools are slippery places.

As a woman, you know.  You know the hand didn’t slip.

As a woman, when I see this ad I see the truth.

It’s not a beautiful truth. It’s not a simple truth. As a woman, I also believe it is not every man’s truth. I have not been let down or disappointed with every man I have ever encountered.

This ad is not about every man. It is not even anti-men. This ad is just anti bad behaviour.

Let’s imagine a brand made for women, a sanitary napkin, creates an advertisement showing women turning a blind eye to other women being harassed.

Let’s imagine this advertisement ends with a provocative line, “Ladies, can’t we do better?”

How would I react to this campaign?

Would I be offended? No. Would I feel targeted? No. Would I try to do better? I would definitely try.

Then why are so many men feeling so angry with the advertisement in question? My theory is, it’s the times that we live in.

The moral fabric of every man is under scrutiny. Centuries of unquestionable confidence is being chipped away, one voice at a time. As a society, we’re at the cusp of a shift in gender dynamics. The shivers and stares that were only for a woman to bear, are now equally distributed.

The interrogation lamp is changing its direction. It would be naïve of us, as a people, to expect no noise from the other side.

There will be protests. There will be threats. There will be jokes. There will be belittling. There will be anger.

And then, there will be progress.

When people look back at this, they will see this as a time when humankind took a step forward.

I don’t mean the advertisement. That is just a product of what is happening around us. I mean this entire shake up.

An uprising is the time when a society sheds its skin. That is where we are. We are shedding our skin.

Coming back to where my salary comes from, advertising, and its role in these times. Communication reflects the life we live right now.

A great writer, very dear to me, said this — “writers write with their ears.”

Nothing could be truer. The advertisement is not inventing a point of view. It is not creating a situation. The situation already exists. The mere fact that we are alive right now means we are a part of it.

Each one of us. The activists. The accused. The survivors. The watchers.

The writers of this ad are just narrating life as they see it and asking for a better world.

A world with more respect for each other. An equal world.

An equal world is hard work. We are not even close to where we should be. But we are on a path.  This path has many names. Revolution. Evolution. Change.

It may not be a bad idea to have some cautions on this path. Even a revolution needs its checks and balances. The innocent should not be packed in the same box as the guilty because we did not have the time to separate them.

Passion and reason must have an equal voice. A successful society is one where no one feels under threat. 

Advertising is never seen as a very profound profession but there is one thing the world can learn from us. Fight all you want, but when the dal khichdi arrives, sit down and eat like friends.

Kainaz Karmakar is chief creative officer west at Ogilvy India

 

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