Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The curious case of Kenwood’s ‘Dhulai’ ad

Updated May 11, 2017 09:56am
The misogyny-ridden ‘leaked’ ad of Kenwood, followed by an ‘almost apology’ is a classic case of mansplaining.

I came here to rant about the new Kenwood ad. A rant loaded with straight out exasperation and some heartbreak. Here was a brand which in the last few ads had been ‘getting it right.’

They were insightful, relatable and satisfied that inner ‘why can’t we do ads like the Indians’ desire within us. They weren’t fancy, blow dried, mega budget dripping extravaganzas. For the most part they were unassuming; simple art direction so that we didn’t think we were on the set of a Karan Johar film, on point styling, with a wardrobe you could definitely imagine wearing in a daily setting and dialogues that were part of casual everyday conversation.

Then everything changed. Kenwood epically messed up with their dhulai ad where a smart copywriter, a cocky brand manager and an eager agency decided that an ad depicting a husband talking about beating his wife would be a good idea to make. It wasn’t.

I am half-way heartbroken because this is the brand which had a really endearing ad with a wife discussing with her sleepy and prone-to-snoring husband how their friend’s husband was yelling at her at a dinner and how she appreciated he was not like that. And then she lets him continue snoring as a reward. It’s the same brand that made the ad where a husband walks around wearing a cardigan in the summer because his new bride burnt his shirt and he didn’t want to embarrass her in front of his family. How could a brand that displayed such insight and sensitivity in a relationship get it so, so wrong?

I think that many of us with an ad background can imagine EXACTLY how it happened. Step by step! The art of creating an analogy with the functions of the product is one that everyone tries to crack. And to do this in a slick way is also an art. So, after two genuinely amusing ads showing Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a husband who often says the wrong thing and gets in trouble with his wife, this ad leaves you with a sinking feeling. Granted, it goes with the theme of him not being particularly brave, but in a time where social media provides no excuses about not knowing what is wrong and what is right, who thought this was a good idea? There are very few excuses to grasp here.

And now comes an apology. An almost apology I may ad, according to which the ad was leaked. It states that the launch was to be later and that they had considered not airing it even before it ‘leaked’ because it needed amendments. Clearly the amendments weren’t going to be removing the dhulai bit because that’s the basis of the ad. Remove that and the concept isn’t there. An ad is not produced in a couple of days. It’s a process involving months; from concept, to the client’s constant changes, to storyboarding, production meets, shooting logistics, managing talent, organising travel. For Kenwood to get away by saying there was a lapse in judgement when so much time and so many people were involved doesn’t fly. In the ad world, the stakes are high. And time is literally money. So the next time a brand doesn’t want to waste time and money, and is trying a controversial approach – think again. And again. And again.