In a country where a baby is born in every 2 seconds, merely uttering the word 'Sex' is considered as a taboo. Often, Marketing and Advertising firms face this challenge of advertising a product which is a taboo. On one hand we products such as Condoms and Menstrual Pads which are often disregarded by the society for being taboos.
On the other hand, we have certain products such as cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol and other intoxicants which cannot be promoted directly via Advertising and hence the companies resort to 'Surrogate Advertising'. This is a form of advertising which is used to promote such banned products in the disguise of other products. Direct alcohol ads glorify consumption and hence surrogate advertising is a trouble-free solution for the same. Remember the classic 'Men will be Men' advertisement of Imperial Blue? Or the 'No. 1 Yaari' advertisement of McDowell's Luxury Soda? These are examples of Surrogate Advertising.
Coming back to advertising the products which aren't banned per se but are social stigma, calls for an interesting discussion on how to capture the minds of the prospective consumers and build a buzz around such products by a cleverly curated marketing strategy.
1. Validate the Taboo: By validating the taboo, you are basically confronting it head-on. Prima facie, this looks like a bad strategy as it might elicit discomfort in the minds of the consumers but this is a very well thought of step.
Imagine Hema Malini comes and urges women to use Menstrual Pads. This strategy works twofold. One, it instantly captures the mind of the women especially the Bollywood buffs. And second, people will take the issue more seriously by the virtue of the person endorsing it.
Remember, the epic 'Padman Challenge' which took the internet by storm and gained recognition. This is the idea behind validating the taboo which basically takes away the taboo.
PadManChallenge: 'Yes that's a Pad in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed about. It's natural! Period.' #StandByHer
2. Add Humor: Think of a typical condom Ad. What do you recall? The image of a sexy sultry woman lying in a bedroom playing up the products' sex appeal. Right?
This is why sensual ads are not shown between 6 am to 10 pm as per the Government's directive as they deem unfit for the younger audience. Adding a pinch of humour will help in crafting a hugely popular viral campaign.
Durex went about this in a humorous way. They roped Ranveer Singh and created a funny song on 'Do the Rex' promoting Durex.
3. Embrace the Taboo: Why is there still so much awkwardness in showing that, contrary to popular belief, women don't bleed blue liquid. They bleed blood.
Periods are normal. Advertising them should be normal too.
It's time we wake up to this. Once you embrace the taboo gracefully, it will fade away.
4. Give Strong Logic: Remember that the product exists and sells because there is a demand for it. It is a sure-shot way to connect with the audience. If the advertisement is logic driven it only makes it easy for people to understand.
Once we access and present the pitfalls of poor Menstrual Hygiene and how it could lead to UTI, only then will people understand the real 'need' of using the product. The same can be done for Condoms too.
While many of you might be sure of not getting pregnant due to sex, protection is not only from pregnancy but from a wide array of STDs such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Herpes.
5. Use a Catchy Phrase: Using a catchy phrase or a jingle only makes your job easier. My personal favourite one is 'No glove, no love' by Myxi.
Or you should come up with something based on contemporary topics. The most well-known example is, of course, the Tropicals by Amul. In 2018, after the data breach incident by Facebook, Durex came up with something like this:
This post went viral on the internet for obvious reasons. This is nothing but a quick-witted advertisement to promote Durex.
Taboos can be countered by well crafted and executed advertisements. There's nothing to be ashamed of. Embrace the taboo, throw some logic, make fun of it and watch how the advertisement creates space in the minds of consumers.