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Who’s your enemy?

Large brand ideas have an ideological stance. A point of view on how things should be. Not just in the category context, but the world at large. Yesterday, while discussing three such campaigns in a session at MICA, a difference in approach emerged. Not in the idea itself, but in their choice of the enemy.


When you choose to stand for something, it requires taking a stance against something as well, the enemy. The more provocative expressions of such ideologies do not shy away from underlining the enemy, instead, they give it centre stage. Therefore, the choice of enemy becomes of critical importance.

All three campaigns have chosen powerful enemies to go after. Be it Dove’s campaign against unreal standards of beauty, Pantene’s against stereotypes that women face at work or Tata Safari’s attack on the success rat race.

However, there is an important difference.

Do you choose an issue that’s a problem ‘out there’ or do you choose one that your own category accentuates? Let’s look at the three cases.

The success rat race is a problem that plagues us in many spheres of life – our jobs, designation, pay package, home, spouse, vacation, kids school, college, their job…. However, our car is possibly one of the biggest signifiers of this that the world sees us with. Tata Safari’s view on success therefore becomes that much more powerful, because it comes from a car brand.

For the same reason, Dove’s view on unreal beauty standards is specially evocative, because the personal care category is as guilty if not more in accentuating this problem.

It is here that Pantene’s choice of the enemy is not as powerful. The stereotypes on working women has a weak connection with what the personal care/hair care category propagates. And it shows.

Although Pantene do attempt the strong hair – strong women connection, the centrality of the brand and category in this ideology is not as strong (no pun intended!). Already, one can see that in their ‘not sorry’ campaign, it faces the classic I-remember-the-ad-but-which-brand-was-it? challenge.

Will they be able to able to finding a more meaningful connect? Let’s wait and see!