A free cup of tea with Brooke Bond Red Lebel

MUMBAI: Meeting for a cup of tea is usually an excuse to connect with people, catch up with the old ones’ and explore new connections. But, what if you land on a couch opposite a sex worker, would you stay and talk or just walk away? Ogilvy and Mather conducted a social experiment on a busy morning at Churchgate station, Mumbai to find out.

Hindustan Unilever has rolled out its campaign for Brooke Bond Red Label tea, Taste of togetherness. The video starts with setting up a booth on the busy station serving a free cup of tea to passengers.  An insurance agent walks in the booth and sits to have tea, while another lady joins her and begins the conversation. While in the conversation, the insurance woman finds out that other lady is a sex worker. The awkwardness can be seen on the agents’ face, but she could not walk away in between tea and continues to share the table with the sex worker. It all warms up when the agent finds out about sex worker’s daughter and how concerned she is about her.

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“The brand has developed campaigns concerning various issues like Hindu-Muslim neighbors and live-in relationships. It claims to have a purpose and through the campaigns it is attempting to build that image.” Says Ogilvy and Mather SVP Abhik Santara.

The recent two minutes 24 seconds campaign is directed and produced by maker of Ship of Theseus- Anand Gandhi and conceptualized by Ogilvy and Mather. The production team had set up a booth a night before the experiment. With the pouring rush on a weekday morning, the booth attracted many people to drop in for a free cup of tea. It had a hidden camera set up, where people’s reactions were captured. According to the production, there were mixed reaction when people confronted the sex worker. Some people just walked away and some stayed.

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“The whole of idea of designing such a campaign for a tea product is that it’s a ice breaker. In the Indian context, when someone sits over a tea its personalized and people tend to share” said Ogilvy and Mather ECD Hrashad Rajadhakshya. Tea is called a social lubricant and the brand has tried to break these social barriers through putting across the table. Santara shared that many people just walked away on face, but some that stayed and spoke to the lady realized that no matter what her job was, the sex worker had as normal life like any of us.

“We have always involved in such campaign because Hindutan Lever has a whole has a purpose to it and through the campaigns like these we convey them to our consumers,” added Karmakar. The basic marketing strategy adopted in the campaigns is to reach out to people on a emotional note by breaking these usual taboos.

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On choosing this particular clip, Santara said that it showed the connection between two women irrespective of their professions. How the insurance agent feels when she finds out about the sex worker’s daughter and how she is equally concerned about her daughter like any other normal parent. The campaign is titled Taste Of Togetherness - That Kind Of A Woman, this showed her first reaction.

According to the makers, they are laying out many more such campaigns and we might also see more clips from the same experiment. The campaign will only launch on the digital platform. There are separate television- specific advertisements made.

The advertisement surely leaves an impact on viewers and brings forth the thought to stay and talk or walk away? And how someone like a sex worker can be treated so differently from us? Such campaigns certainly make people to stop and think. Digital platforms have given space to brands to walk out of conventional problem solution promotions.

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