Earlier this year in February, the government of India proposed a bill with an amendment. The bill proposed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suggested a fine and monetary penalisation for brands that promote or sell fairness products. Sadly, post that the bill was mostly left to careless abandon hardly any mention of it being made.
However, the #BlackLivesMatter movement in America soon catalysed a global call for action against all brands and establishments that propagate the idea of the fair being beautiful. Soon after, various brands started making announcements of dropping their fairness lines. HUL also decided to do away with the word 'Fair' from their star product 'Fair & Lovely' and decided to re-name it to 'Glow & Lovely!'
Now, here’s a thing about capitalism: it feeds on our insecurities, prejudices, and stereotypes. And it keeps on doing so until it’s very standing is questioned or threatened. The case in point here is a newly released ad of Voltas Beko dishwashers and its frustratingly tone-deaf and sexist tagline which claims that the product has been “Tested by Real Moms.”
Watch it here:
If it isn't clear, the advertisement is problematic AF and takes us back to a time where we'd rather not go. And while it is hard to guess what was Wunderman Thompson South Asia thinking while creating this one, one can say with absolute certainty that the conceptualisation was done in a cave by a team of creatives who perhaps haven't been out of it in decades. There is no other way to explain the sexist ideology embedded in the ad campaign where the idea of doing dishes is very normally attached to "real moms."
How exactly "real moms" connote to clean dishes anyway? How is this connotation a better marketing point in comparison to say, real dads, non-dads, single women, single men, or anyone else for that matter? From how we see it, the brand really couldn't have gone any crasser with the implication that women belong in the kitchen.
It is 2020 and we are still constantly fighting a battle against patriarchy. There's no denying that so many of us have seen times when women used to do most of the household chores especially chores pertaining to kitchen. But wait, as I said, this is 2020, we are currently navigating our lives through a pandemic and have survived months of lockdown with a considerable part of people working from home. Seriously, it would be an abomination to even imagine that moms are actually doing all the dishwashing with everyone sitting at home right now!
Well, all thanks to its problematic messaging and tagline, the ad has been drawing severe flak on Twitter as netizens call out the brand. Here's what they have to say:
After facing much backlash, Voltas released a public statement (not an apology) that said, "As a brand, Voltas Beko has always celebrated the spirit of womanhood in all our campaigns. Likewise in this advertisement, we captured a fun, casual conversation between four independent and spirited friends who got together over a video call during the lockdown. One of the characters in the video refers to how the family has been managing household chores, with her husband taking over the responsibility of washing dishes. This is when the protagonist of the film recommends a dishwasher. Our products have been developed to create convenience and comfort for all our customers, and are gender agnostic."
Sadly, nowhere in that long statement does the brand realise that they might have knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated archaic, not to forget problematic stereotypes. And while one of the characters in the ad does talk about her husband doing the dishes, this is what another one of them has to say, “I wish they made men like that. You know gentle but get the job done.” High time, that the brand realises that not only does the ad has serious sexist undertones but also validates toxic masculinity with this dialogue.
Dear Voltas, it is not just "real moms" who do the dishes or other household chores. Also, men can be gentle and still get the job done! Perhaps, your marketing team could see this and issue a public apology if they could just come out of that cave for once!