Saturday, July 08, 2017

Highlighting A Social Stigma

Malayalee Priyanka Prakash, along with the team at L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, has just won the Cannes Lion (Gold) in the glass category for their campaign about menstruation

Photo by Albin Mathew 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Priyanka Prakash was feeling flustered. At a government school, in a village near Mumbai, 12-year-old Megha would give the dialogues perfectly. But the moment, she sat on a swing, and the cameras started to roll, she would freeze up. Take after take had to be aborted. Priyanka tried to calm down Megha. Several schoolgirls, who were watching the shoot, offered words of encouragement. Finally, it was decided they would try one last time.

And that was when Megha delivered. “Everyone went to the circus,” says Megha, in the one-minute advertisement. “Sanaa and Niyati saw elephants and lions and tigers. They had so much fun. But this time I had to miss the circus.” Several girls spoke about missing many interesting events. Then a voiceover says, “Over 40 million girls in India are house-bound for five days every month, because they have nowhere to go to change during their period. Finally, there is a sanitary solution that lasts 12 hours: Saafkins, to give her five of those days back. Just Rs 150 will ensure her a year of not missing out: www.giveher5.org.”

The napkin, using Swiss technology, enables users to rewash it and it can be used safely for a year.

This campaign won one of the biggest awards in international advertising:  the Cannes Lion (Gold) in the glass category, which received more than 200 entries worldwide. The prize is given for any ground-breaking work which increases gender equality.

The leading light behind the campaign is the Mumbai-based Malayalee Priyanka, who is a creative director of Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi. “It was an overwhelming moment for me, my colleague Meghna Das, and [Chief Creative Officer] Delna Sethan,” says Priyanka, at the Kochi home of her parents, Prakash and Maya Madatilkat. “My very first entry, and I get a gold!”

It is a campaign that is close to Priyanka’s heart because of the subject. “Most girls in rural areas do not have any sort of sanitary protection and are using ash, sand, husk, and cloth,” she says. “It is very unhygienic. Society does not allow the girl to say that she is going through a menstrual period. This brings about a sense of shame. And so I am glad that I could do my bit to bring about a social awareness.”

This is not the first award that Priyanka has won. In 2016, she won the Laadli Media and Advertising Award (Jury Appreciation) for the Pampers ‘It Takes 2’ campaign.

This was a movement to motivate fathers to take equal responsibility towards baby care,” says Priyanka. “We came up with the finding that the involvement of both parents is much more advantageous for the baby when it comes to cognitive development, social and physical skills. In India, a dad gets involved only when the child learns to speak or play. So, we wanted to change the mindset.”

In fact, both these advertisements reflect the current trend in advertising now. “Most of the brands just don't go out there and say, ‘Here is our product, please buy it,’” says Priyanka, who did her Masters in Creative Advertising from Falmouth University (UK). “Instead, every brand wants to stand for a bigger cause.”

One reason for this is that it is getting far more difficult to engage an audience these days. “We are dealing with three screens: the TV, laptop and the mobile,” says Priyanka. “The moment there is an ad break, people move away. So, you need to tell a story and stand for something bigger.”

And, in her own way, Priyanka is also standing for something bigger.  

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)

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