Prime Focus Technologies’ Pranav Chaturvedi talks to LBB’s Laura Swinton about the new #Unstereotype ad
Unilever-owned tea brand Brooke Bond Red Label continues its commitment to its #Unstereotype campaign with a spot designed to break down racial bias within India. The spot was created and produced by Prime Focus Technologies and addresses the issues that many Indians from the country’s Northeast often face, being treated as and regarded as foreigners. The film highlights one such instance, where the protagonist is asked to show her passport for entry into a local museum, as the staff simply assumes she’s not Indian.
The campaign marks part of Unilever’s global push behind the #Unstereotype project, to dismantle stereotypes. Brooke Bond in particular has tackled all sorts of divisions and biases specific to India over recent months (including this spot from Geometry that sought to bring together Hindus and Muslims)
LBB’s Laura Swinton spoke to Pranav Chaturvedi, associate vice president, PFT Brands, about this recent campaign, which was released to coincide with India’s 70th Republic Day.
LBB> Why was race and the concept of ‘Indian-ness’ a topic that Brooke Bond wanted to tackle?
Pranav> Brooke Bond Red Label’s #Unstereoype campaign aims to bust stereotypes and foster a culture of inclusion. Having touched upon other pertinent issues like dwarfism, gender bias, religious bias, this time around the campaign focuses on the racial bias. India is a country with diversity, and facial diversity is not an exception. People from the seven states of Northeast India often have facial features similar to those of Southeast Asians, Chinese or Japanese. This is the reason why many of them are regarded as foreigners in their own country. Some tease them, some judge them too quickly, while others make honest mistakes. Like, in this ad, a young Indian woman is asked to show her passport to prove her nationality. We cannot put a stop to any of these assumptions overnight. However, we have created a piece of communication aimed at nudging people to think and refrain from making a judgement too quickly the next time. If this happens, the ad would have fulfilled its purpose.
LBB> Can you give me a bit of background context about the subject matter for our non-Indian readers?
Pranav> In India, the seven states in the Northeast are commonly referred to as the ‘Seven Sisters’. They share borders with countries like China, Myanmar, Tibet, Bhutan and Bangladesh. In terms of physical appearance, people from these states have facial features that are similar to their Chinese neighbours. Owing to the large diversity in India, even their eating habits, cultural traditions etc. are distinctly different from other states in India. This often leads to unintentional – and sometimes, intentional – discrimination when they seek accommodation, jobs etc. outside their home states.
LBB> The tone of the piece feels well-considered – it's not lecturing anyone and there's no bitterness or 'I told you so'! How did the team of writers go about figuring out what tone to strike?
Pranav> Firstly, Brooke Bond’s brand tonality is neither sarcastic nor preachy. Instead, it focuses on spreading happiness among people and fostering inclusiveness. In this context, we wanted to portray the discrimination faced by the film’s protagonist as an honest mistake rather than a deliberate condescending act. The idea was to arrive at a resolution over a cup of tea, thus bringing in the product naturally.
LBB> How important was the casting and what specifically were you looking for in the two actors?
Pranav> It was very important to cast the right talent for this film, because the strength of the script to a large extent depended on the protagonist’s physical appearance. For the character of the ticket checker, we wanted to cast someone who would be quick to make judgements without any guilt, yet display honesty and seek redemption without any ego issues. The protagonist in the film had to look like a typical girl from the Northeast, and her diction while speaking in Hindi had to be correct.
LBB> This isn't the first Brooke Bond #Unstereotype campaign PFT has worked on – how do you think this #Unstereotype concept is changing the conversation within the ad industry in India?
Pranav> Landmark campaigns like #Unstereotype are the need of the hour. It is an appeal to awaken social consciousness, which various brands are collectively trying to embrace in the ad industry. The #Unstereotype campaign is already helping bust stereotypes and promote a culture of inclusiveness. One of the previous films that we had worked on under this campaign was aimed at shattering stereotypes associated with dwarfism. The latest film is making waves in the digital world, and fans are already waiting for the next piece of communication!