Women as laundresses a washed up attitude, Indian Ariel ad says

The new Ariel washing powder advert is fighting for gender equality in the home

Nabila Pathan
Nabila Pathan - Special to Al Arabiya News
Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
5 min read

Unlike most detergent ads, the Ariel powder advert currently being broadcast in India is less interested in showcasing its cleaning powers and more interested in asking the question “is laundry only a woman’s job?”

The 30 second advert, first aired in India at the start of the year, is an attempt to challenge cultural attitudes on gender roles. It simultaneously launched the campaign “#SharetheLoad,” which highlights the overriding notion that whilst women in today’s Indian society may be climbing the career ladder, they still partake in a greater share of household chores in contrast to their male counterparts.

The advert features a pair of older women praising the young woman of the house for her career achievements, only to be interrupted by a young man who wonders why his hard-working wife has not done his washing.

The “Share the load” advert, conceptualized by the agency BBDO, is a call to action for people, men in particular, to share the division of household chores with their partners. The hashtag continues to generate talking points with most women applauding the brand’s initiative.

The ad campaign was inspired following a recent Nielsen Survey on Indian households across five cities which highlights that two thirds of Indian women feel there exists inequality between men and women at home. According to the survey, 85 per cent of working Indian women feel they have two jobs, one at work and the other at home. It was also highlighted that 76 per cent of Indian men believe that laundry is a woman’s job.

According to the ad agency responsible for the concept, the Ariel ad represents “a new action-oriented movement idea for Ariel that aims to discuss a latent but simmering tension point in society: Is laundry only a woman’s job? Wouldn’t it be great to build a society where husbands and wives share the load. Because where there is equality there is true happiness.”

Bollywood celebrities have joined the conversation started by Ariel, taking the question “is laundry only a woman’s job” further afield to cities across India. The campaign launch saw the likes of Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Neha Dhupia, Mandira Bedi, Amala Paul joining in on discussions which have generated national interest.

The message has also being promoted by the iconic Dabbawalas of Mumbai, with campaign messages being printed on their t-shirts as well as their famed lunch boxes they transport to the men working at offices.

Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director of BBDO, which created the campaign, believes that brands like Ariel have a license to lead the conversation around who does the laundry. In an interview with the Financial Express, he explains: “A brand movement like ‘share the load’ is all about building on the existing conversation in society. It is about raising the relationship between the brand and its consumers by having an engaging idea around laundry. It rejuvenates the category. The specific product story and benefit is a part of the overall plan.”

Reaction to the campaign has overall been positive. Speaking to Al Arabiya News, Asifa Qureshi who is a dentist from India, explains why the advert works well:

“It depicts a mother/daughter-in law relationship unlike any other I’ve seen on Indian TV screens. The mother-in-law role, rather than be embroiled in some power struggle to enforce subservience on her daughter-in-law, is in fact in awe of all the career opportunities women have in today’s society. It’s the unspoken moment of disbelief and sense of audacity by the son who interrupts this moment with a rebuke to his wife about his shirt not being washed that cleverly creates the perfect shaming tactic for such a traditional attitude.”

Co-Founder and Blogger at Lighthouse Insights, Vinaya Naidu concludes in her assessment of the campaign that “all in all, the campaign has only given a platform for women to raise their voice against gender inequalities at home. Clever and convenient for a detergent powder brand to create a one-sided gender movement on laundry duty at home!... By alienating men, the brand has left a sort of negative ‘feminist’ trail, that defeats the very purpose of gender equality. #ShareTheLoad could do much better if men celebrities joined in the movement and took the pledge to share laundry at home.”

Top Content Trending