Sexist Commercial Part of Ad Campaign Attacking Sexism — While Selling Some Deodorant, too

Can advertising save the world? No, of course not. But an ad campaign can have a positive influence on people’s thinking and, if it sells some products and services along the way, all the better. (Let’s not be silly, that’s what we’re also here for.)

A splendid example of a brand sparring with social mores, while at the same time effectively pitching its wares, is the new campaign for India’s HE deodorant, featuring Bollywood superstar Vir Das playing the role(s) of an objectified woman.

Created by Orchard Advertising, the 1:15 spot contains several common sexist advertising tropes wrapped into one playful piece of work that flows wonderfully well, while nailing its target with artistic ease.


The video spot is supported by an activation campaign where men were asked to wear Respect T-shirts and post selfies of themselves on the brand’s Facebook page –hashtagged #HERespect and #RespectWomen.

The campaign also created a series of images calling on men to respect women.


Respect for Women - He Deodorants - Branding in Asia

There is an additional spot featuring Indian heartthrob Hrithik Roshan walking the streets avenging women guided along by the underlying theme that real men respect women.

“We believe that there is a need to nurture a positive role model among men, who are able to accord respect to women,” said Harsha V Agarwal, director at Emami Ltd, the company that makes He deodorant. “HE Respect seeks to honour and bring into light such men who believe in honouring women.”

And we’d like to sell you some deodorant, too.

Unisex Washing Machine?

The HE Deodorant campaign brings to mind another solid piece of work created last year, also in India, by RK Swamy BBDO. It features a husband in a department store who, when approached by a salesman pushing a line of washing machines, directs him to take the topic up with his wife.

“Show it to her, it’s her department,” the husband says.

The woman asks the salesman: “Do you have a unisex washing machine?”

I won’t spoil it, watch for yourself.

Great stuff. Carry on. And mind your mama.