The banned campaign of Layer’r Shot, the deodorant brand from Adjavis Venture Limited, created a virtual stir for its sexist and triggering tone. The 30-second spot features a bunch of teenagers walking into a room where a young couple was there. They make suggestive sexual remarks which imply scoring sexual favours from the woman in question. After severe backlash and the I&B ministry asking YouTube and Twitter to take down the ad, Layer’r Shot on June 6 took to Twitter to issue a statement.
“We, the brand Layer’r SHOT would like to inform one and all that only after due and mandatory approvals, we have aired the advertisements, wherein, we never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments of feelings or outrage any women’s modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some. However, we sincerely apologise for the advertisements that consequentially caused rage amongst individuals & several communities and beg their pardon,” the brand states.
The brand also says that they have asked their broadcasting partners to stop airing the ads from June 4 with immediate effect.
However, the campaign in question has already triggered people who called it out for being disrespectful towards women and reigniting the debate about what can be passed in the name of creativity. Advertising and branding experts that Storyboard18 spoke to unanimously agreed that the campaign is a reflection of a new trend of advertising agencies being sidelined and creative process being taken for granted by an increasing number of advertisers.
Don’t compromise creative process
Brand expert Anisha Motwani highlights that there is a new trend emerging where brands are saving money and going directly to production houses, compromising on the creative process.
“We have been experiencing this trend a lot in the new age startup space. The traditional ways of clients having agencies that understand and do a scientific job of how a brand should be positioned, defining core values, brand personality and the core human insights on which a brand is basing its communication is being ignored. We used to go through the entire facet of the brand before arriving on a brief. It used to be a very scientific process of understanding TG, their beliefs, value systems,” she adds.
Motwani notes that if the client (Layer’r Shot) has done this exercise and read the brief backwards for a communication like this they would have realised that there’s something off about the communication.
“Brands want to take shortcuts and not do the hard work. This trend of advertisers going to creative shops and production houses offering these services, I’m not saying all their work is bad but there are many that just don’t understand the science of brand building and they evaluate a piece of creative basis whether it cuts the clutter or not. Under that disguise a lot of this kind of work gets approved,” she says.
Motwani also adds that young adults that form a massive consumer base in India are far more aware and conscious about brands and their core values. Their loyalty cannot be bought on the basis of any callous communication.
Be cool not crass
Using attraction as a ploy to market personal care products is not new in advertising. Experts believe that from toothpaste and skin care to perfumes and deodorant, multiple brands have leveraged this proposition of an attractive woman to create interest among its target audience but what Layer’r campaign lacks is boundary and dignity.
Consumer behaviour and brand strategy enthusiast Mythili Chandrasekar thinks that every aspect of this Layer’r Shot ad, the set-up, multiple men, language and casualness of delivery makes it callous and dangerous. “Use a product and attract or win over the girl or guy has been a proposition for decades. At its core, many categories use this proposition but it’s crucial to do it with dignity and grace, and stay strictly within boundaries and have multiple checkpoints in the process of ideation to release,” she emphasises.
What’s worse about making an obscene ad is not owning up and apologising, says Naresh Gupta, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Bang In The Middle.
According to him, the brand has been nothing short of insensitive and crass.
"The apology is a joke. This is like saying we did nothing wrong and the world is unfair. But someone said say sorry so we said sorry. If the brand was genuinely regretful of the ad they made, they would have said it clearly. By doing verbal jugglery they are not saying sorry at all. That’s really not a good thing to do from a reputation perspective," he concludes.