Post Thumb
Click on the image to watch the Video.

Britannia Marie Gold’s My Start-Up campaign, launched in 2019, was developed with the belief that every homemaker is looking to be something more – to craft an identity that goes beyond being a wife, a mother and a daughter-in-law. It encouraged women to submit their business ideas for the chance of winning Rs 10 lakh.

For the first season, the brand rewarded each of the top 10 ideas with the winning sum. For the second season, it went a step further and awarded each of the top 10,000 winners with a course in entrepreneurship offered by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

How often do you see a brand invest such a hefty sum into purpose-driven marketing? And how often do you see it go beyond creating films about noteworthy achievers to actually creating the achievers themselves?

The change that Marie Gold has tried to bring with this campaign is not just at the psychological level – where the audience watches a feel-good film about a homemaker-turned-entrepreneur and comes away feeling inspired. It has also tried to change the ground reality for every homemaker who may have never had the opportunity to pursue her interest/passion as a business before.

Since the campaign spans various financial segments and not just the middle class (as often remains the focus of brand campaigns), an opportunity like this can mean the difference between financial stability and living from salary to salary for some. As it did for a season one winner who Marie Gold chose to cover for its digital campaign in 2020:

Lalita Patil had felt the strong need to re-secure her family’s financial security after her husband’s gas cylinder agency went out of business. She even participated in Kaun Banega Crorepati but couldn’t make it to the final round. Her efforts finally found fruit when she won My Startup Contest. The winning sum fuelled her idea to open a restaurant called Gharaachi Aathvan (Memories of Home), which would cater to students and employees who have relocated for work and miss homely food.

We have analysed Lalita’s story for this piece. Through all the material Marie Gold has put out for their digital campaign, we find it best representative of what My Startup Context set out to do – empower a segment of people who wouldn’t have found a similar opportunity otherwise and actively create winners through them.

Here is how Marie Gold has achieved it:

Encouraged a change in the perception of homemakers

The video about Lalita Patil sets up her winning traits through quotes from her family members. Her husband shares how she single-handedly manages all household tasks, no matter how big or small, and does it with a practised efficiency that reflects in her business. Her daughter highlights how Lalita is tenacious, perfect at planning out work and works the hardest amongst them – all reasons that can be chalked up to her success as a businesswoman.

These testimonials end up doing multiple things at once. They link Lalita's entrepreneurial success back to her identity as a homemaker and the skills she has acquired playing that role. They equalise the worth of a homemaker with an entrepreneur by highlighting what is common between the two – challenging the notion that it is not a 'proper' job. And they acknowledge Lalita for how good she is at both, instead of treating it like a given and devaluing her efforts.

As compared to other winners, Lalita’s story also subtly challenges the regressive way in which people compare the successes of the husband and wife, especially when they see the wife ‘outdo’ the husband. It has been presented such by the brand, that it shows viewers that Lalita's success as a businesswoman doesn’t give her husband anything to feel embarrassed about.

It has her openly mention how the failure of her husband's business became a motivating factor to start her own – without making it seem like a reflection on him. And also shows her husband proudly discussing her strengths for the purpose of the video.

All of this has been done, of course, in addition to distributing the prize money, which is the strongest driver of the social validation of homemakers.

Imitated the spirit of micro-financing for purpose-driven marketing

Micro-financing, the alternative to conventional banking for low-income groups, has proven successful at women’s financial and social uplift, especially in rural areas. It hasn’t just pulled many of them back from the brink of poverty but also helped them feel more respected in society.

Marie Gold's initiative is technically not an example of micro-financing – it is not about lending money to a group of women and training them to ensure that the financial support pays off. But about annually shortlisting the best business ideas from a group of women applicants, granting the top 10 seed money, and rewarding the top 10,000 with a skill development course.

However, it does resemble micro-financing in spirit. It is similarly aimed at empowering women by providing some with financial support that they wouldn't have been able to receive otherwise, and some others with skill development that can nudge them towards entrepreneurship.

Moreover, while it may only finance ten women a year and not a larger group, Lalita's selection seems to suggest that the brand expects the winners to continue creating employment for others like her. As understood by Lalita's thoughts on how best to grow her business: "since people have liked my restaurant so much, I can open branches or even grant franchises".

Wrapping up

Marie Gold is one of the few companies that have targeted women using such an idea. Hindustan Unilever was another one to do it, back in around 2013, when the company introduced a direct-to-consumer retail distribution system for rural women, under the head Project Shakti. As a result, HUL was able to reach three million+ households in 100,000 villages across 15 states. 

The impact noticed with both examples indicates that this area of focus is worth exploring for more brands and companies. Campaigns created with similar goals are capable of positively impacting people in a way that improves their daily lived reality – instead of only contributing to a progressive cultural conversation, with the hope that it will eventually reflect among the masses. 

They also hold the potential to uplift people in a way government schemes can’t. And as goes without saying, when people see brands putting profit aside for the greater good, the campaigns can help create brand loyalty like no other.