6 years ago Ariel asked the world a radical question, Why is laundry a woman’s job?

Back then, 2 out of 3 women felt there was inequality between men and women in the home. At the same time, 76% of men opined that laundry was a woman’s job. From that day to today, we have seen five instalments of the absolutely brilliant #ShareTheLoad campaign. Each one strengthened the conversation of unequal expectations of household work from both genders. Each one leaves something unsettled in all of us. And I am so glad they do. In a world where 61% of women feel advertising communications today are completely out of touch, BBDO India got the job done right.

Here is a deep dive into what #ShareTheLoad got right and how Indian advertising needs to up its game of initiating important conversations in society.

2015. #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob?

The 2015 film started this talk of gender parity and uneven distribution of domestic labour. It featured a mother-in-law and her friend, talking over tea, taking pride in how women today earn more than men. The latter even goes on to say, “ Today is a great time to be a woman.” Their conversation is cut by the loud voice of the husband asking his wife why she didn’t wash her shirt – a mental conversation most “modern, working” women have with themselves everyday. So, Is laundry only a woman’s job?

Given the 1.6 Million reach and the countless awards it won, it is safe to say the packaging of the campaign resonated with the masses. While most marketers would be afraid such advertising is ahead of its time, Ariel knew what they were doing was just bang on.

So from me to all brand marketers: We are ready for forward-looking communication, try to karo.

2016. Call for Dads to #ShareTheLoad.

The second edition added a more progressive nuance to the same discourse. A proud and apologetic father, who after watching his now grown-up daughter handling both home and work without the husband’s contribution, looks back at his mistakes. How he has never helped his wife around the house. How he has set a bad example and standards for his daughter today. He apologises on behalf of his behaviour and her husband’s father too. The presence of the kid in the video also makes us question the ideas of a “normal” family we risk passing down to the next generation if we continue to operate like today.

This TV commercial was my first hello to the #ShareTheLoad campaign. At 14 years old. The first time it ran, my father was watching his prime-time news and mom was in the kitchen. This was the norm. I had never questioned it before. That night, I did. I zoomed out of my realities and thought of all the women who are forced to live through such Problematic Defaults. This simple story shows the power of good media communications. Changing norms. Raising feminists. Questioning problematic defaults.

This film ended with the same revolutionary question, Is laundry only a woman’s job? and asked Dads to #ShareTheLoad

2019: Reminding sons to #ShareTheLoad. Are we teaching our sons what we’ve been teaching our daughters?

The 2019 edition of #ShareTheLoad took the spiel #OneStepForward: Are we teaching our sons what we’ve been teaching our daughters?

The story is set up in a progressive household. A daughter with a successful career tells her mother she is quitting work. Why? Because the husband does not shoulder in the household work. He “does not know how to.” As heartbreaking as it may seem, this narrative is not so new to many. While the mother’s first reaction is to be surprised and be taken aback, a quick look at her younger son’s upbringing shows her the problem.

As the TV commercial said, “We teach our daughters to stand on their own feet, but we don’t teach our sons to lend a hand.”

This struck a chord with all mothers, sons and daughters nationwide: we’ve practised the difference, we’ve seen the difference, we’ve felt the difference. This unspoken social conditioning only magnifies as our kids grow up to be adults of the future. Sons of today become husbands of tomorrow. If they aren’t taught to #ShareTheLoad in the comfort of their homes today, they won’t consider doing it in the future.

And just like that, in another simple and strong advertisement, Ariel asked viewers to reparent their sons to #ShareTheLoad.

In 2020, partners #ShareTheLoad for equal sleep.

On the Day of Sleep in 2020, Ariel put forward on screens another troubling reality of Indian households: Women are usually the first to wake up and the last to sleep. The 4th chapter of #ShareTheLoad campaign undertook a survey that revealed that 71% of women in India sleep less than their husbands because of household chores.

This ad is from the point of view of a little kid who takes note of her mom missing out on sleep for chores and feeling sleepy as she handles countless responsibilities throughout the day. The dad realises his lack of contribution to the household when the girl misses her mom in the middle of the night and they find her doing the laundry.

This lack of sleep reflects the inequality of household responsibility. Whatever women are unable to wrap up during the day – they compensate for it with their sleep hours. While most of Ariel’s conversations have been focused on working women, this truth remains undeniable for homemakers as well. And this is why, when the detergent brand spoke, they were heard. Truthful, hard-hitting, forward realities.

In 2022, when we #SeeEqual, we #ShareTheLoad.

On International Women’s Day last year, the #ShareTheLoad campaign brought forth the sentiments of women who refuse to compromise with the inequality in their marriage. This time they raised a rather perplexing question, “If men can happily share the load with other men – as friends, roomies, etc, why can’t they do the same with their partners?” When you probe a little, you reach a rather heartbreaking reality, because they don’t see women as equals. Because they think taking care of the house is, inevitably and by default, a woman’s job.

In the thought-provoking 2022 film, we see a woman take a stand for herself. A rather pleasant surprise? (To understand my personal hatred towards pleasant surprises, go here.) The woman addresses the unconscious bias when she notices how her husband does not see her as an equal. As she demands equality in her marriage, she demands equality for women worldwide. Women who are not seen as equal stakeholders in a marriage but, after everything else, mere caretakers.

Another unmissable aspect of the TV Commercial is men who are open to change. Men who want to leave their social conditioning behind. Men who are ready to share the load. Challenging biases in the division of household chores and amplifying the everyday mumbles of women’s lives, Ariel continues removing generation-long stains from our social fabric. Kudos!

Quick Last Thoughts

Sharat Verma, CMO, P&G India; Vice-President, Fabric Care, P&G, rightly said, “Leveraging our voice for larger social change is not just the right thing to do for the society, but also the right business choice as consumers today have a strong point of view and expect their brands to do the same.” In a country where the yardstick for a good wife is her domestic skills, Ariel has successfully made strides to deviate from the predominant social narrative. While most would say it was a bold choice, I say it was the right one. In fact, I will take a step forward and add, it is the only one.