It is not often that a consumer goods company takes to sensitising people of real issues. And yet, that is exactly what P&G has been doing with its Ariel ad campaign. Into its third edition now, the latest ad has even garnered over 20 million views.
The conversation began three years ago with #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob? It was followed soon after by an ad that questioned gender roles and how every woman has not one but two jobs to juggle, one at work and another as a successful homemaker.
The latest ad focuses on #ShareTheLoad and raises another poser: How are we raising our sons? We caught up with Sonali Dhawan, Marketing Director and Fabric Care Head, P&G India, to understand the genesis of the campaign better.
The first thing is to change the mindset that it is not a load but a responsibility that you take on because it is a source of joy, of happiness.Sonali Dhawan
Thrive Global India: You have always been vocal about the ethos of equality. With this third ad campaign the idea of change is again taking shape. How was the brainstorming for this ad done?
Sonali Dhawan: We knew the narrative we wanted to continue. It started with the first campaign stating how things were. The second went into conditioning: Why things were the way they were. With the third, we wanted to continue the narrative on conditioning, but this time we wanted to talk about all other aspects of conditioning.
Personally I wanted to talk about how we raise our sons. My mother-in-law has two sons and has raised both of them very well. She had narrated how one of the sons would come back from hostel with a bag full of laundry. And, once she told him: ‘Son, you have to do your own laundry, I love you, but you have to stop getting this laundry back home!’
As part of our brainstorming, we saw many such personal stories about how sons are being raised. The expectations of what have from our sons. In the last two years the expectations of what we want from our daughters has changed a lot. We want to raise our daughters to be self-sufficient, independent, have a career. But we have not asked if our sons would be ready for these daughters of tomorrow that we are raising. That’s where this conversation sparked off.
TGI: Any personal experiences in this context?
SD: My husband has his own company, started 13 years ago; we have two kids, and we have managed our careers in the last 19 years so that we haven’t had to stay apart. We’ve been clear in our conversations of what we want from our careers. We have gone to our companies with equal status. He was in Singapore and I was in India and since then we have moved between Singapore and India four times. We have raised a son and a daughter in an environment where both would also consider that we treat our careers as equal. It has seeped to both where they think that it is as important for mama to have her career as papa. The personal truth we have lived—I would love for it to come true in more families and environments around the world.
TGI: You are a P&G veteran. What makes you thrive at this company? How does P&G walk the talk?
SD: It has been 20 years in P&G for me, it was my first job and the only one I held! What makes me thrive at P&G is firstly the belief it has in people and belief in everyone having equal opportunity. The other is the force for good that our brands can be that allow you to make a difference and be a force for good, make social impact.
TGI: What kind of value system are you passing on to your children?
When I was growing up it was always the mom’s job to remember student conferences. Even if my dad went to school for the event, the mental load for reminding was my mom’s. It was her job to mark off vaccinations, PTM…she was also a working mom.
In our house, it is a shared responsibility. We have a calendar, sometimes I pencil in activities, sometimes my husband does. Both of us take turns to make sure that we are as involved and engaged that it should not be seen as it is mom’s responsibility alone to take care of homework and school activities. My dad didn’t check on my homework, it was always my mom. My husband checks as much homework as I do!
TGI: Other companies have joined your #ShareTheLoad conversation.
SD: We were one of the early brands to talk about it. Ariel talked about inequality at home. We started with laundry as the starting point of the conversation. We looked for partners to take this conversation further.
Besides Whirlpool, we partnered with Masaba [Gupta] where her line of clothing had wash instructions: ‘Can be washed by both men and women’. Going forward, more and more partners for change can make a difference.
TGI: It is still a load. What is your take?
SD: The first thing is to change the mindset that it is not a load but a responsibility that you take on because it is a source of joy, of happiness. Anything in life, if it is not giving you joy then you need to rethink it, whether it is unhappy situations, relationships or work, make sure it gives you joy and fulfilment on an overall level. You need to make sure that what you are doing is actually making you happy.
TGI: Your favourite well-being tips.
SD: The first thing is to breathe. When we slow down life even if for two to three minutes, it makes a huge difference in settling things down.
The other thing is that I don’t take anything, good or bad, home with me. I had an epiphany around 9-10 years into my career. I lost someone very early and it came to me that nothing that we do matters so much that we take it home and spoil our well-being. If something happens, the bigger question I ask is: Is it the worst that can happen to you or anybody? If not, then it is better to get past it.