The copywriter who created the Baggit ad
deserves a ‘jaadu ki jhappi’ for throwing some light on mansplaining. This is a social problem where some men really like the sound of their own voices. And not only do they like the sound of their own voices they use these voices to talk down to women or silence them when they are perfectly capable of speaking or understanding issues for themselves. So it is quite refreshing to see an ad take this on. If you have read my earlier opinion piece you know my hopeless battle against ‘manels’. But this isn’t my biased view -my class of mass comm students mentioned this as a recent ad they liked. I liked the production values too – shot at a Birdsong café like set (love this Mumbai cafe) and directed by Arti Kakkad, it has good performances all around especially the mansplainer who I think I have seen on stage though his name eludes me. The company itself was started by Nina Lekhi and is now a 100 crore company. It makes ethical bags i.e. faux leather and canvas so you can use her bags if you are vegan as well. Baggit ticks several boxes for anyone looking at brand story and brand values. All the right boxes- sustainability, gender, pricing. Nina Lekhi has featured in case studies and business books, has authored a book, is a mompreneuer (her own descriptor) who believes it is possible to have it all and has insights to share with other women wanting to build business ventures. The brand surround is important and Baggit has started its communication journey positively. I am told this is their first big commercial.
On the other hand we have Burberry. Full disclosure I love their bags and fragrances. But now that they have burned a few million dollars of merchandise I wonder at the price I must pay for buying exclusivity. Luxury marketing as we know subverts traditional marketing principles. Kapferer and Bastien’s superb Luxury Strategy and 24 Anti laws of marketing throw light on this universe. Law no 12 is a case in point –“ Make it difficult for clients to buy by restricting supply and distribution” All luxury brands have a system of keeping their goods in short supply and while the internet has created a fashion democracy of sorts, aspirations continue to dictate luxury spends. Luxury says Kapferer straddles both, “being the ordinary of extraordinary people to being the extraordinary of ordinary people”. Brands are under pressure to stay on the extraordinary side of things whatever the cost and however elitist it may sound.
Exclusivity has a price but the price of not listening to other noises we have heard recently – recycling, sustainability, landfills, environmental impact is also high. I am thinking about the environmental impact of burning 10 million dollars of perfume which is what Burberry had to do. How do you incinerate leather bags or the classic Burberry trench without a pang? The trench coat follows 127 processes to get the Burberry stamp. That’s a lot of labour and hard work gone. But the consumer who pays a super premium for luxury products is not going to take kindly to your giving anything away free. This is the Catch 22 for luxury brands. Never mind that we are running out of landfills. OK, Burberry’s stuff went up in flames and produced usable energy we are told but that’s still 28 million dollars in all of very expensive energy. Burberry is not the only brand to do this – this is the practice in the luxury segment and in fashion. But this issue has made us a little more aware of buying choices.
There is no comparison between the two brands whatsoever except they both make bags. Baggit peaks at a price point of INR 3500 or thereabouts, Burberrys’ Belt bag and D ring bags start at about INR 1,20,000 and they aren’t the most expensive of the brand’s offering. Two very different worlds – one global luxury and one Indian high street and never the twian shall meet. Except that the millennial consumer can and does move between these worlds and may make choices on principles and demand that all her brands- luxury and high street adhere to them. Ordinary consumers may start making some extraordinary demands from their brands.
(Geeta Rao has been Group Creative Director, Ogilvy India and Regional Creative Director Ogilvy Asia Pacific.)