Are oil-based creams making your skin more oily?
That’s the question the Lacto Calamine ad wants you to focus on. Is that question as important or critical as ‘Rohan and my experience are the same. So, why is he getting paid more than me?’?. Of course not. But, both are made out to be equally important because the brand wants to ride on a cause.
The cause? Gender pay gap.
The narrative device used? Questioning things.
Like the woman questions her boss about gender pay gap, she also needs to question something equally important to her life and dignity: are oil-based creams making your skin more oily? And just as easily as she got her rightly-deserved pay, she gets an answer to her other question too: Lacto Calamine!
In the Hamam soap ad, things take a fairly dark turn.
The mom, in her scooter, leaves the girl behind and rides off. She keeps riding off while the daughter chases. And the very first thing the mom utters when the breathless girl catches up finally? Was it, “Do you know why I made you run like this, without telling you anything?”.
No. It was, “100% pure neem oil!”. Why? Because the daughter made the blunder of asking the mom about ‘100% pure neem oil’ after observing it in the soap. Does the mom really need to put the girl through the grind to explain what is just a soap?
And then, comes the cause: ‘If someone troubles you, run! Catch. Chase. But don’t let them get away!’. Right. For that running, you need 100% pure neem oil in your soap? That’s the most important thing about this cause of eve-teasing? That you should also worry about your skin going bonkers with all the running?
There are ads that blend the cause seamlessly without making it seem so blatant.
The recent MP Birla Cement is one such ad.
The cause used is gender bias. And it is used in a natural sense, through a person presuming in the most natural way, using cues he observes, that anyone could make the same error. The cause is not forced and neither does the product come across as a tacky layer on top of the cause.
And then there are ads like Hamam and Lacto Calamine that force a cause so horrendously that they end up looking like dark humor.