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Jabong's 'Be You' trumpets unique fashion statements

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MUMBAI: A bearded man flaunting an elaborate and glittery nose-ring, a woman donning a shirt as a ‘pagri’, and a man wearing his jacket as pants. Sounds familiar? No? Well, that’s the point. Or at least the ‘statement’ that Jabong is trying to make with its new 2 minute long video that takes its brand statement ‘Be You’ to a whole new level.

Conceptualised by Bates CHI & Partners, the film takes viewers on a picturesque journey of fashion, style, colour and uniqueness, be it through very obvious stereotype breakers or subtle hints at breaking the mould. Whatever be the complicated collective thought behind the campaign, (left to the viewer’s interpretation), it took the production team five days of prep work and a day of shoot at a ‘desi’ Mumbai studio to churn out this 2 minuter. A forty seconds version of the ad will also run as a TV spot. The quick shoot could also be due to availability of dates from London based award winning film, creative & art director Harvey B Brown of the IndiGo Airlines and Incredible India fame, who shot this ad film.

Breaking down what his vision behind the campaign was and what he saw through his lens, Brown said, “Fashion can be bold and brave and yet be within reach. Through this campaign, I want to break the stereotypes that limit the very creative expression that is needed to make a truly personalized fashion statement. Beauty in advertising is usually defined to fit set criteria. I wanted our styling to be contrarian and inspirational. So you’ll see young men and women wear shirts as colourful turbans, sweatshirts as pants, men’s trousers as women’s jackets, and so on,” said Brown. Apart from the artfully shot frames, what is hard to miss is the semi ethnic trance like music that plays in the background, scored by well-known music composer and Abby winner Sameeruddin. The mandate from the client was simple, or rather there wasn’t any strict mandate to begin with. But there was an idea. “They were not looking at yet another campaign that talks about the great offers, deals, or the range of the ecommerce site’s inventory; or the advantages of online buying,” spoke out Bates CHI & Partners president Asheesh Malhotra. “Jabong clearly wanted the campaign to speak to the youth directly and bring in their perspective of fashion in the limelight. The campaign emphasises on Jabong’s brand statement ‘Be You’ and be comfortable in their own skin. So here was a client more interested in building a brand through a campaign, rather than a short term quarterly goal of sales,” he shared, adding that the campaign talks in language the youth of today speak, a language that is devoid of bias based on gender, size, ethnicity, etc.

A recent market research done by MTV titled ‘Many Me Project also spoke of the plurality that exists in abundance in today’s Indian youth, a reflection of which can be seen in Jabong’s campaign. “This campaign marks the beginning of a new chapter for Jabong. Youth today are confident, comfortable in their skin and ready to make bold choices. They want to be fashionable, yet not be slaves to a trend. You could be skinny, plus sized, bold, meek, short or tall - but you are who you are – and fashion helps you Be You. This campaign celebrates their choices, and makes our brand philosophy much more relevant in the current context. After strengthening our fundamentals in last few months, we are bringing the focus back to our brand,” said Jabong CEO and MD Sanjeev Mohanty.

Reiterating the same thoughts, Malhotra elaborated, “Today’s youth have an opinion and they are not afraid to speak it out. And fashion to them is about being comfortable in their own skin and making a statement as well. Otherwise, there really isn't anything differentiating the many options we have to buy clothes online. You go to Koovs, you go to Myntra, you go to any other site under the sun, and buy the same piece of cloth. What differentiates Jabong is its understanding of the youth’s sense of fashion. Consumers can buy a full cloth and chose to wear just the sleeve, and Jabong is cool with that. That’s what’s ‘Jabong’ about their fashion statement.” This isn't the first time an online retail brand has opted to take up the ‘bold’ approach. Going bold also has its downside. Trying too hard to steer clear of the stereotypes can be dangerous. It can altogether put you in another box of ‘different for the sake’. “It’s not about rebelling against or for a certain cause. Or forcefully connecting fashion with homosexuality or treatment of pregnant women in our society just for the sake of the stir it will create,” pointed out Malhotra, heavily hinting on Myntra’s ‘Bold Is Beautiful’ campaign.

Does dressing models in attractive and eye-catchy clothes, and painting them in bold colors achieve that much needed reasoning behind ‘breaking stereotypes’?, we asked Malhotra. “Our focus was fashion and the spectrum that it covers. Sure, there is a lot of extremes shown in the video. We didn’t want to go out of our way to show extremes in fashion, but until and unless we depict a cross section of people with unique fashion sense that is natural for them, we we would miss the nerve of the campaign,” Malhotra justified. Bates CHI & Partners won the account for Jabong’s creative mandate not too long ago in March, and has already planned to go long term with the brand. The agency already has another video in store, shot and ready to be released by first week of July.

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