9 out of 10 consumers prefer brands that take a stand on social issues: P&G’s Sharat Verma

In every campaign for Ariel since 2015, P&G has sought to highlight the inherent patriarchy of Indian society in an empowering way that encourages men to do their share of the chores at home. The 185-year-old Cincinnati-based MNC is known for addressing relevant issues through its campaigns such as the importance of menstrual hygiene through its Whisper brand.

Sharat Verma, Director of Marketing, P&G India; The vice president and head of the Fabric Care business unit, spoke at length to exchange4media.com about the company’s vision and his own thoughts behind such ad campaigns.

Edited excerpts:

How important is it for brands to stay socially relevant in ad campaigns?

Brands today have no choice but to stay socially relevant. Consumers want brands to take a stand on social and cultural issues. Nine out of ten consumers prefer brands that take a stand on social and cultural issues. Some brands do social campaigns seasonally, they focus on one issue and then move on to another. It looks like lip service. We’ve run the #ShareTheLoad campaign consistently since 2015, so it’s important that brands understand the values ​​they stand for.

In addition, consumers’ attention span decreases to 7-8 seconds. This means that even if a brand makes a statement, it is likely to be missed by consumers unless it is thought-provoking. P&G is a leader in supporting equal voice regardless of color, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity. It is important for us to use our voice through brands to bring about social change.

We have the products consumers want to buy. Tide is the number 1 brand in the world, Ariel is the number one brand of washing machines used in the world. It’s our responsibility to come out with campaigns that talk about the changes consumers want to see.

ASCI’s annual reports highlight that many advertisers and brands continue to represent the patriarchy. What do you think of these advertisements?

The first thing we make sure after watching such ads is that we are not making such mistakes. ASCI does a great job of flagging such ads and also making sure brands do what is necessary. It’s also important for brands to understand what consumers want. We work with multiple channel partners and brands to raise awareness on how to make the world a better place. We are seeing a growing sense of awareness to see everyone as equal. I’m sure we will definitely see the change if we keep talking about it. P&G is the largest advertiser in the world, so we have a duty and a responsibility to make the world a better place.

Seven years have passed since the launch of Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad campaign. Have you ever thought about tackling a new problem?

I don’t call ‘#ShareTheLoad’ a campaign but it is a ‘movement’. I started this movement in 2015 with our first Ariel campaign. Then I went to China but the movement continued.

Our latest survey, conducted among men, reveals that more than 41% of them still believe that doing laundry is a woman’s job. Until our investigation brings that percentage down to zero, our job is not done. As a socially responsible brand, we will continue this movement.

Digital advertising has grown exponentially in recent years, especially since the pandemic. What is your share of digital ads in total AdEx?

I cannot divulge our media mix for privacy reasons. Digital has seen tremendous growth, no doubt. Our digital spending has also increased over the past two years. The idea is to reach consumers in the most effective way, but we cannot over-advertise by bombarding them with digital ads.

Television is not going anywhere, that’s for sure. It continues to carve out the lion’s share even now for every brand that has a product for the masses and it will continue to be number 1 because of its mass appeal. Now mobility is back to normal so outdoor ads will increase now. Since people started taking newspapers, print ads are expected to see an increase.

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