Of dishwashers & gender equality – Did the Voltas Beko ad deserve the flak?
Voltas Beko recently rolled out a new digital film for their new dishwasher product. Conceptualised by Wunderman Thompson and titled ‘Word of Moms’, the film depicts a group of ‘moms’ on a video call speaking about the chore of washing dishes. That’s when one suggests Voltas Beko’s new dishwasher product to ease the burden.
The home appliance category has seen a demand surge during the Lockdown as consumers, who have to manage responsibilities on dual fronts – personal and professional – look at solutions that can ease the burden. So, products like personal computers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners are seeing a surge.
Dishwashers are a relatively nascent category in India. A lot of consumers are not aware of the technology used in a dishwasher. There are also prevailing beliefs that dishwashers won’t be able to clean the utensils with Indian food debris and may end up malfunctioning and damaging glass or porcelain utensils. The lack of awareness about the product has led to the lack of adoption. Most Indians prefer to wash their dishes with a scrub and a dab of liquid soap. There are also socio-economic reasons why dishwashers haven’t taken off in India.
Nisha Singhania, Co-Founder and Director Infectious Advertising, observed, “With labour available cheap and easy in India, most people have never invested in goods like dishwashers and vacuum cleaners. Not only is it a cost, but also occupies space, which is at a premium in most metros.”
Adding further, she said, “The other issue is that since most people were not used to doing their own dishes and had the luxury of maids, they weren’t sure if the maids would be able to handle technical products like these. However, due to the recent Lockdown all of that changed and suddenly these products became a necessity, as people had to do their own chores.”
Rutu Mody, Founder and MD, Jigsaw Brand Consultants, concurred, “Dishwashers are a new concept in India. A category that has seen a slow pace in a country that hasn’t ever had any manual labour shortage. Families have never seen the need to invest in a dishwasher, because the ‘Bai’ is always available to do the dishes. Also, there is a perception that these machines can’t be given to the maids to operate, or that Indian food is too oily and greasy and won’t work in a western concept like a dishwasher.”
The digital film addresses the concerns of Indian consumers by enumerating that the dishwasher takes care of stubborn ‘daag’ (stains) and oily food residue. For Indians, who may not have the requisite kitchen space to accommodate a large dishwasher, the ad also speaks about Voltas Beko’s ‘table top’ version. Near the end of the film, it also addresses the question, ‘Do you put your glassware in as well?’
Even though the film seems to stand for equally divided work, its tagline, ‘Tested by real moms’, has led to a spark of criticism on social media. Users on Twitter questioned why the film gives an impression that a ‘real mom’ is someone who does all the household chores. Some have even pointed out the absence of men in the film, even though everyone is grounded at home during the Lockdown.
Obviously. Your life has no value please do your own damn dishes.— Vidya (@VidyaKrishnan) July 21, 2020
Singhania opined, “While the film brings out the Lockdown concept and woes really well, I wish it had a gender balance, especially, when most men are participating in household chores. Depicting both men and women in the ad would not only have shown the brand in a more progressive light, but also smartly made the point of ‘ease of use.’”
Mody added here, “The ad campaign is an extremely real depiction of a conversation that friends have with each other. It is extremely relatable because it addresses a deep pain point in a direct manner. The functionalities of the product are explained up front. The ad is doing a good job of educating the consumer on the category which is in fact the need of the hour.”
Reacting to the social media criticism, a statement issued by Voltas Beko read, “In this advertisement, we captured a fun, casual conversation between four independent friends, who got together over a video call during 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.”
We feel the criticism for the campaign is blown out of proportion, since one of the characters does mention that her husband is doing the dishes.
Neither the brand nor the agency replied to emailed queries by Adgully at the time of filing this report.