Indian underwear brand, Amul Macho has been long known for breaking gender stereotypes. Back in 2007, when the brand launched “Yeh toh bada toing hai” campaign, in no time it became the talk of the town for focussing on female desire & fantasies. Now, over a decade later, the brand has once again caught everyone’s attention with the revival of the campaign for Macho Sporto, featuring actors Vicky Kaushal and Rashmika Mandanna.
Conceptualised by Leo Burnett and promoted by Madison Media Omega, the Macho Sporto campaign commits to legitimise the female gaze. However, the idea of legitimising female gaze has left some of the critics unimpressed. The brand has been receiving backlash on social media and is being trolled for depicting a woman’s desire as she playfully gazes at a man’s underwear.
“We are the no.1 player in the category. If we can’t be fearless, who else will be?” asks Ninad Umargekar, Chief Marketing Strategist at J.G. Hosiery Pvt. Ltd. while addressing the controversy. “Anybody can make a decent pair of underwear but not everybody has the guts to deliver a strong point of view. Today’s man needs to deal sensitively and affectionately with a woman who wants to take charge. That’s Macho Sporto’s point of view - modern, progressive and secure,” he further adds.
Speaking about the campaign and the thought behind the bold move, Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett shares, “Through our campaign-- Yeh toh bada toing hai 2.0 -- we wanted to address and break regressive old fashioned gender stereotypes. Typically innerwear brands portray conventional male dominant imagery, but our films depict a role reversal where we normalize and make the woman in control. This is probably the first time where a men’s wear brand is showing a woman taking the lead. The films are light hearted and have the brand’s signature tongue-in-cheek humour with Vicky and Rashmika playing their onscreen roles perfectly.”
But as they say ‘Any publicity is good publicity’, the female gaze helped the brand gain massive traction across social media in just a few days. Despite the criticism from a section of society, the ad film has managed to garner 26 million views on Youtube; 292k views on Facebook and 193k views on Instagram.
“I am amazed that an ad film in such a short few days can get 1 crore views. I can’t understand what a handful of critics find objectionable in the film. It’s an honest portrayal of the emerging mores in Indian Society today. To the few who find the film objectionable I would say, ‘Wake up and smell the coffee’. Congratulations team Macho Sporto for catching a trend and mirroring it,” opines Sam Balsara, Chairman – Madison World.
Echoing a similar thought, Shweta Iyer, Co founder, Nine Yards Communications Consultancy states that the controversy is blown out of proportion. “I think Amul macho has with their ‘toing hai’ always been creating noise on a naughty note. So it’s in tune. I think the controversy is blown out of proportion completely. Men for generations have been seen in cinema as well as advertising, admiring and checking out women. When tables are turned in communication why make it such a big deal. Women have been checking out men as well, since forever. And it’s absolutely normal. So why shy away from seeing it on our screens. Why as a society should we have double standards. It’s absolutely not justified in my view.”
Sharing his take on the controversy, Jagdish Acharya, Founder & Creative Head, Cut The Crap says, “First things first, ads like Amul Macho do not shock the general sensibilities anymore. Or the way it’s ‘toing’ advertisement did some 15 years ago. That was long before porn was accessible the way it is today. The ‘controversy’ happening on social media is a typical, ritualistic behaviour of the medium. The brand has nothing to gain in terms of sales or even awareness among its TG.”