9 Inclusive Brand Campaigns Geared Towards Indian Audiences

Cover designed by Tanya Khosla

Wave goodbye, it’s the end of an era.

Advertising, which used to be all about making the consumer aspire to a certain standard of living, is evolving into its next natural form. We’re looking at a shift that focuses on quality of life, instead — and we couldn’t be happier about it.

Wake up, it’s 2020. What are the values you stand for? And are they only skin-deep?

Think of advertising as an ongoing conversation between a brand, a marketer and a consumer — today, the feedback loop is amplified with the power of digital media. This means that advertisers don’t only create, run and broadcast campaigns, they have the opportunity to listen to consumers about what truly matters to them.

As professionals working in this space, we are shaping minds and conversations everyday.

This is why it’s important that we are mindful about context and use inclusive language, why we need to move the needle towards a world where diverse stories across the spectrum all find a place. The devil is in the details, and this is how we can drive behavioural and societal change.

So where does it start?

Inclusive marketing starts with counter-stereotypes, to create a vision that consumers can resonate with and embrace. We’ve witnessed a shift to campaigns featuring stories of real people told sensitively that have the power to move us far more than — say — an ad with women swooning over the smell of deodorant that still has us rolling our eyes all these years later.

Here are a couple of ad campaigns geared towards Indian audiences that set an example for social responsibility, across the spaces of beauty and wellness, biodiversity and gender issues:

Vicks (P&G) #TouchofCare Campaign

Vicks has given us several heartwarming family-oriented ad campaigns over the decades, but with the #TouchofCare campaign, they take it up a notch. Created by Publicis Singapore, the campaign underscores the importance of what care, being a caregiver and family really means in contemporary society.

Ed Booty, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Communications APAC said: “Great brands don’t just reflect safe and accepted norms, instead they dare to set agendas in culture at large. That is our ambition with this work for Vicks — to give the timeless idea of Family Care a fresh and contemporary meaning.”

What stands out about this campaign is its fine, evocative storytelling that is narrated in first person by the orphaned girl, Gayatri, herself. It showcases the deep compassion and love with which Gauri has brought up Gayatri, while facing myriad societal and systemic challenges as a transgender woman.

Gillette (P&G) Man Enough Campaign

What does it mean to be a man? Why are men conditioned to hide their vulnerability? Probably because the patriarchy spares no one. This film tells the real-life story of an army veteran, Manoj Kumar Sinha, who was grievously injured in combat, but never once shed a tear as he’d been conditioned to believe that it was not socially acceptable for men to cry.

Speaking about the campaign, Grey Group India chief creative officer Sandipan Bhattacharyya said: “As a leading male brand and advocate for men, Gillette believes in igniting conversations that raise and inspire the future generation. We want men breaking free of notions that crying makes them weaker. It takes courage to show your vulnerability.”

What stands out about this Gillette campaign is these lines that drive the point home, “Showing what you really feel doesn’t make you less of a man. Raising a strong boy also meant telling him — it was okay. It was okay to cry. Men can cry, even soldiers can cry. Because our pain reveals the best in us.” This ties back in seamlessly with Gillette’s global ‘The Best A Man Can Be’ campaign.

Oriflame

Oriflame, a brand of Swedish origin, made waves in 2017 with this film released for Indian audiences by Brandmovers India. Featuring Kalki Koechlin, the thought-provoking #beautifulchange campaign emphasised the brand’s commitment to empowering lives and creating positive social change.

Adrijaa Sanyal, Creative Director of Brandmovers India, who scripted the film said, “The thing about change is, it creates a ripple effect — that’s what happens within the story and that’s also the hope of this story — that it would create a ripple of change in the consumers’ life.”

What stands out about this ad campaign is that it is powerful storytelling at its finest. It recognises the multiple obstacles families come up against in providing education to young girls, and encourages the viewers to take small initiatives in their own lives.

Moral Science

This Goa-based slow fashion design house shirks labels and dresses you in fun and functional clothing infused with a sense of sweet nostalgia — all in the same breath — while making the whole thing look and feel utterly effortless.

The clothes of Moral Science, led by designer Isha Ahluwalia, are supercharged with personality and a flair for quiet theatricality and understated glamour. Since these clothes are for everyone across the gender spectrum as well as multisize, slow fashion comes naturally into the picture. Production is kept limited and ethical work practices are ensured at every stage, in line with Moral Science’s commitment to ensuring a safe and happy environment for all involved in the process.

What stands out about Moral Science is how their communication language is every bit as idiosyncratic and beautiful as their designs. This whole series of short films called ‘Morality Bites’ had us waiting in anticipation for each subsequent release, a welcome splash of colours and sunshine across our feeds with inclusivity embedded in its ethos.

FAE Beauty

FAE or Free and Equal Beauty creates and conceptualises beauty products for everyone. They hand bodily ownership and agency straight back to consumers where it belongs, with campaigns that are authentic and playful. These make no qualms about recognising how problematic traditional beauty standards are.

In fact, they do us one better by subverting them with campaigns like the one for their buildable matte lipsticks, featuring shades like Too Much, Too Dark, Too Nude and Too Basic.

Too good!

What stands out about FAE Beauty is that they are promoting products that are versatile, PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free, presented with a sassy dose of irreverence. Our favourite line from their #FreewithFAE campaign goes, ‘The only thing we all should aim to be is Free And Equal. Always.’

Black Baza Coffee

Say hello to your favourite cuppa with a conscience. This biodiversity-friendly coffee brand creates a local, participatory and meaningful movement for coffee that values producers as much as it does nature.

Black Baza Coffee was established by a young wildlife scientist to work with coffee-growers in Kodagu, Karnataka, ensuring that they receive a fair price while simultaneously creating a process that contributes to biodiversity conservation.

What stands out about Black Baza Coffee is that besides envisioning a sustainable future, they connect producers to consumers through sharing stories on the process of growing coffee. They take it one step further in this post, where they show coffee-drinkers how coffee grounds can be easily composted to nourish the soil with nitrogen.

Tailor & Circus

Here’s a simple concept for a brand executed exceptionally well: underwear that loves you. Think soft, antimicrobial underwear that lets your skin breathe. Body positivity is at the core of this unisex brand, which uses images of real people having a whole lot of fun — and sometimes, just hanging out in underwear, as you do.

That’s right — and this is far less common than we’d like — they look and seem just like us! Cellulite, birthmarks, love handles and all. Their products are made from a sustainable imported fiber extracted from the beechwood tree, and you can choose from neutral solid colours or striking prints that’ll win your heart. Don’t miss out on their launch video!

What stands out about Tailor & Circus is their authenticity, body positivity and their natural, beautifully-lit images that make you itch to pick up a pack of three (or six). In this post, they pay their respects to frontline health workers in Covid-response teams, including refugees, on the occasion of Humanitarian Day.

Let’s Go Less

This is a great embodiment of less being more. These products and services have their origin in organic hemp, which doesn’t require any chemical pesticides or fertilisers, making it safer for both the farmers as well as the land.

Their ethical mode of production gives back to the local community, with products designed for circularity. Prioritising recycled products and opting for biodegradable solutions, Less uses the best-quality natural fibres delivered to customers with plastic-free packaging with not a label in sight.

What stands out about this campaign is their emphasis on the fact that ‘these clothes don’t wear out, they wear in’. Easygoing, ethically-sourced clothing designed for soulful wandering; for those who believe in owning less stuff, and finding more meaning.

Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO)

Ready to go from farm to future? BOHECO are pioneers, being the first in India to become involved in organised plantation and cultivation of the hemp plant, which is considered a supercrop because of the wide variety of its uses.

The three main aspects BOHECO focuses on include research, influencing policy and commercialising hemp. Think hemp seeds, oils, proteins, body creams, lip balms, soap bars, hand butters, fabrics, t-shirts, swatch books and badges. The social enterprise also looks at using hemp products to fulfil the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

What stands out about BOHECO is that it is an initiative that simultaneously educates consumers and empowers those working in the hemp industry.

Inclusivity designed by Tanya Khosla

The bottom line

Diversity not only highlights what we have in common, it allows us to look at things through a holistic lens, reminding us of a fundamental truth of existence: to live in harmony with ourselves, with people from all walks of life and cultures, and with our planet.

“Replacing the old story of separation with the new story of unity and embracing radical pluralism is the imperative of our time,” says Satish Kumar, a peace and environment activist. “Diversity is the dance of one life force. Unity celebrates itself in the diversity of life.”

Written by Aditi Dharmadhikari & Dona Varghese

A collaborative network that crafts media solutions for businesses focused on sustainability and making a social impact.