I have seen the ‘Project Streedhan’ video being shared almost in all WhatsApp Groups that I’m part of (and have muted). I have also heard from others that this is doing the rounds massively on multiple WhatsApp Groups, besides Twitter and other social media platforms!
This is a CSR effort from a rather unusual source – DSM aka Dutch State Mines!
DSM’s website doesn’t specifically explain what they are into, without resorting to a lot of heavy-handed jargons. You end up with, “Nutrition, Health & Sustainable Living”, and when you dig deeper, you get to some specifics.
The video, created by Draft FCB Ulka is strikingly different, using jewellery advertising templates (intentionally, since the target audience is the same; if they get women to view the ads, that’s a success criterion) to convey something completely different. The music (by Debasis Shome. Lyrics by Veneet Raj Bagga, Deepika Chauhan; and sung by Madhupurna Ganguly) adds to that quirkiness.
I had a more fundamental question, though.
And that’s based on the point of the film.
The film showcases glamorous looking women eating a lot of colourful food and fruits, including corn, watermelon, pomegranate and so on. The text—and the song—exhorts women to eat more iron. Is the implication that they should eat more of what is being shown in the film (those foods that contain iron, presumably)?
Wouldn’t it be more useful to showcase a list of kinds of food women should consume instead of just making it seem like the way Katrina Kaif consumes mangoes in the Slice ad?
Also, wouldn’t it also be purposeful to close the film with a call-to-action – go to a web page (curated carefully by DSM, with the most authoritative voices) to know more about the issue beyond such simplistic communication, particularly given the magnitude of the problem being raised?
This is assuming that they get one chance at going viral and be shared a LOT (happening now). Even the YouTube description is bereft of any context! But all that attention is being bestowed on them for the film’s inherent unusual contrast between how it is filmed and what it is trying to say.
Project Streedhan has a skeletal Facebook page that is merely congratulating itself on how much the film is being spoken about. It is not speaking about the cause behind the film, which is the main purpose of the film.
The film wins spectacularly in terms of timing (Dhanteras), technique, aesthetics and narrative device.
(The effort also has a win in the clever name: Project Streedhan, alluding to the health of a woman, instead of the actual meaning of the word under the law. Streedhan is part of the Hindu Succession Law (1956) and is the property that a woman obtains at the time of her marriage. It differs from dowry significantly (though it ‘sounds’ like dowry) because, it is voluntarily given to a woman (whereas a dowry is given to the groom/groom’s family) before or after her marriage and has no element of coercion. Women have an absolute right over their Streedhan, under the law.)
But it doesn’t seem to be doing justice to the problem (and its gravity) it is trying to addressing.
Did DSM and the agency assume that once it is conveyed that there is an iron deficiency problem in Indian women, that would be enough for women to want to know more (search for themselves?) and do the right thing?
Is it too much to expect the project’s initiators to not let the interest generated land up in a random (potentially misleading) Google search and in assorted, bewildering WebMD pages? Is it too difficult to plan a user journey given the importance of the communication, from creating awareness to taking specific measures in alleviating the problem? No, this doesn’t mean assigning individual doctors to the viewers. It simply means thinking through the communication from the users’ perspective:
Who is our target audience?
Women in India.
What do we want to tell them?
That they may be lacking in iron, and need to consume food rich in iron.
Till this point – job done, brilliantly!
Should women ask their doctor about this?
What about women who cannot afford a doctor, but have free bandwidth from Jio to watch this video on their mobile phones?
Where will they find information about either the problem or the potential solution?
What kind of quantities of iron do they need to add in their daily diet?
What are some of the most easily available sources of iron in India?
How much of each kind of food is recommended? If dates are a rich source of iron, how many dates should an average Indian woman have, to not be affected by anemia?
Are there special iron supplements that are recommended?
What kind of conditions demand taking supplements over natural iron in food?
Are there are age-specific precautions about iron in food?
Are iron-rich food appropriate for all kinds of situations? For example: periods, pregnancy etc.
Is it too much to expect a campaign planning team to think of such questions? These questions are based simply on common sense, not even a Google search. That the film made me think of these questions is a solid win for the effort, incidentally. The film would have been more purposeful if it had guided its target audience towards finding some answers.
On the contrary, if the film was selling something simply commercial (say, silver jewellery), not having a call-to-action is not an issue at all. Because, if women don’t know how/where to buy that product, they don’t lose anything. The brand that bankrolled the film loses potential leads – that’s it. But, a Public Service Announcement could be a lot more thought-through because of its larger purpose and intent.
Thankfully, some of the influencers who have roped in to talk about the cause, are doing a better job of being more purposeful.
Here is Vidya Balan, contextualizing the effort with dates, as her source of iron.
And Anuja Chauhan, offering her choice – gur/palm jaggery.
If DSM or its agency suggested that these celebrity influencers make these recommendations in context, wouldn’t it be more useful to make them in a follow-up page that viewers can go to and be informed about?