Millennials , Brands, Politics and What’s Your Stand?

Indian demography is tilted in favor of young.  About 65 per cent of Indian population is estimated to be below 35 years. It is a huge number for brands including in the political arena. The question is what should brands targeting this group stand for?

Today’s Mint last page reports a story about HUL’s new campaign for Surf Excel ‘Rang Laaye Sang’. The ad shows bonding between two innocent children, a boy and a girl. The message conveyed is that colors can bring people together (read reduce strife and conflict).  There is nothing wrong with the message and nobody can have problem with it.  Harmony is what we want. It is a great virtue for a society.

Theoretically can there be someone who doesn’t want harmony between people? Answer is no. The answer changes to ‘yes’ if you thrive on conflict and discord. This ad has been trolled on social media by groups urging people to boycott HUL and Surf Excel (# Boycott…).  Now the question is why? It is because the ad features a Hindu girl and Muslim boy.

Now the question is which of the stands is likely to resonate with Millennials? The new generation is not satisfied with product functionality alone. They want things to change and change for good. Their psychology is aptly captured in a tagline which Philips once used, ‘Let’s make things better’ ( read not better things). They want to change physical things themselves (look at how they come together for causes like garbage collection and resisting tree felling) and seek cultural transformation from negativism to positivism.

So what do they expect from their brands? Is it superior functionality? Answer is clear no. They want their brand to take a stand and have point of view. The brand can no longer afford to take an ambivalent position. They should demonstrate conviction and voice their opinion. But it should not be hollow campaigning. The conviction must be lived. Authenticity is the key here. It is here real differentiation could be earned.  P&G makes you revisit you notion about what it means to be ‘like a girl’ and UCB has always stood against racial discrimination.

So what is the outcome? If there are #s promoting boycotts there is also # against divisiveness (#stopdivisiveness). What is political implication of these groups raising protest against the ad? Their ideas are at friction with about 65 percent of population and they are likely to damage the political brand they are connected with.