Tuesday, March 29, 2016


L’Oreal Paris, along with NDTV announced the 2016 Women of Worth Awards on March 28 2016.
Congratulations are in order to the nominees and the winners for the tremendous work in their respective fields. And recognition at a special felicitation ceremony, like the one put together on March 28, becomes a fitting tribute to their endeavour.
However, the Women of Worth Awards shows how a good brand strategy gets diminished with poor execution.
First, why is the award for women only? Okay, L’Oreal makes and sells beauty products for women. So they restricted their awards to women. Isn’t that obvious? Yes, but isn’t it also obvious, that when you connect only the dots that are obvious, it demonstrates poor vision? It’s a fantastic example of brand myopia. Of course men are worthy too and making the award gender-neutral would have done wonders for a brand that might be used by primarily by women, but whose results are seen, experienced and felt by men too.
Next, what is with “Worth”?
Simply trying to associate the title name with the L’Oreal brand tagline “Because you’re worth it” is not just poor communication strategy. It’s downright lazy.
So, what happens to the women who got nominated, but did not win? Unworthy? It’s obvious that the communication and brand teams did not look at ‘Worth’ from all angles.
Ideally, the over-arching title Award name should not have an antonym. Examples:
Distinguished Leadership Award
Endeavour Postgraduate Awards
John Maxwell Leadership Award
In the case of ‘Worth’, the “unworthy” connotations that come immediately at the subliminal level are too strong to be ignored.
While we were still grappling with the unworthiness of the award title, the event added to the dissonance. The lineup of film stars and beauty queens at the gala nite completely diluted the purpose and vision of the awards. What were Aishwarya Rai, Katrina Kaif, Mandira Bedi and Sonam Kapoor doing there, other than making fashion/style statements, taking selfies and posing with their hands on hips?
While the lineup of panelists to discuss the larger issue of women and their struggles was impressive, the core of the discussion was once again about ‘gender inequality’. The discussion was peppered with the usual suspect phrases “We, the Unequal”, “it’s time men listen to women”, “sports is a male bastion”and so on. The only sensible observation came from author and columnist Suhel Seth when he said – “There is no such thing as inequality. We live in individual silos. Sometimes activism around gender is the biggest hurdle in the way of gender neutrality.”
The opportunity to make the event really unique and memorable was tremendous. By not reducing it to a gender bias and female victory, and simply celebrating the achievement, L’Oreal and NDTV would have catapulted the award to new levels of aspiration for men and women. To dare, to dream and to do.
L’Oreal ‘Women of Worth’ Awards in partnership with NDTV is a great example of perfect intentions going awry with poor brand vision and even poorer communication strategy. The powerful stories of those wonderful women got lost somewhere because some communication managers lost sight of the overall narrative.

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