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A key rationale for branded content is cultural participation wherein brands can be a part of the unfolding cultural shifts or even contribute to it and act as a changemaker. However, getting this right can be tricky, especially where women’s empowerment is concerned. Our piece today looks at how some brands are attempting to become culture shapers, going beyond the clichés and obvious strategies.

‘Women Empowerment’ as a goal has become ubiquitous on paper to the extent that it (Nari Shakti) was the Oxford Hindi word of the year in 2018. But women empowerment as a process requires not just laws and mandates but also an actual change in the mindset. A shift in mental attitudes necessitates the simultaneous processes of unlearning and relearning. Let’s look at some of the branded content that employs these processes, in an attempt to initiate or change the prevalent culture.

L’Oreal Paris’s StandUp

L’Oreal Paris aims to impart training to almost a million people to equip them with skills required for carrying out intervention in cases of street harassment. The brand has collaborated with an NGO called Breakthrough in addition to launching a website called

Imbibed with a strong spirit to tutor, the brand has come up with a 5D approach—Direct, Distract, Delegate, Document, and Delay to fight everyday harassment. The campaign is targeted at people around the victim who is undergoing harassment.

Not only does L’Oreal’s campaign address an important issue, but it also takes it to the people around. It enlightens consumers about everyday situations that are often noticed but conveniently ignored. It educates people about a serious problem that women often face in public spaces like the street or the offices. Thus the brand certainly puts to practice its own tagline, ‘because you’re worth it’.

Netflix’s Behensplaining

Hosted by the likes of Dolly Singh, Srishti Dixit, and Kusha Kapila, Netflix’s Behensplaining is a series of movie reviews. Interestingly, the movies and shows reviewed are all available on Netflix. So the series conveniently promotes Netflix titles while engaging in what can be termed as self-reciprocating humour. However, the major highlight of Behensplaining lies in the fact that it is hosted by women and often brings the sexism ingrained in media production to the fore. In many ways, the series echoes questions and scepticisms that often cross the minds of female audiences but in a light-hearted manner.

Netflix being an entertainment platform capitalises well by producing branded content that is also meant to entertain. But at the same time, the content also focuses on lesser-heard opinions and thus it attempts in its own right to initiate a dialogue. By featuring a feminine analysis of content that is usually male-centred, Behensplaining makes for branded content in support of a positive cultural shift.

Tinder’s Consent

“If you had asked, I would’ve said no” is the dialogue with which Tinder’s short film, Closure, begins. The seven-and-a-half minute film depicts and discusses sexual harassment and assault. It explores the crucial but often ignored concept of ‘consent’ in relationships. This piece of branded content by Tinder is a brave attempt at educating the audiences as well as its users.

As a brand providing dating services, Tinder in India is also tasked with organising the dating culture in India. It is almost a given that branded content that aims to educate about the nuances of dating is a must for such a brand. Tinder in that sense often performs well and successfully connects with its consumers. Talking about consent is a step ahead in the right direction as once the dating culture has propagated, proper care and respect must become indispensable parts of it. It is especially necessary as consent is a rare topic of discussion in Indian society.

Skore’s Cliteracy Drive

Together with Isobar, Skore created a room called ‘Sleepless with Skore’ on Clubhouse where a two-hour discussion on issues of sexual intimacy and pleasure, took place. The discussion consisting of content creators Aishwarya Subramanyam and Santu Misra foregrounded the importance of ‘cliteracy’ among men and women. Skore being a sexual wellness brand connects aptly with its consumers via a drive to enlighten them about sexual pleasure.

The choice of platform, Clubhouse for a discussion of intimate matters, or as many would call them ‘taboo’ topics, is excellent on Skore’s part. By producing a discussion, the brand ensures live feedback is taken in and responded to. Such a format helps in dispelling myths or doubts associating with sexual pleasure. More importantly, it makes re-education a two-way process, thus increasing its effectiveness.

Need of the hour

Production of content that addresses sensitive issues either by the means of a discussion or a light-hearted review series signals an understanding on the brand’s part. Consumers are more aware today than ever. Moreover, they have a voice that can lead brands to even change the names of their products (case in point: Fair and Lovely). With consumers more involved than ever, the choice to stay silent is simply not one that brands nowadays can afford. In order to be relevant, taking part in the cultural conversation is almost a must for a brand.

But producing content around sensitive issues can be a tricky area. The best strategy moving forward should be first to strike a brand connect vis-a-vis the content being manufactured. While producing a piece of content, brands can look for topics or themes that often stay behind the curtain in our society. As with any sensitive topic, holistic treatment is crucial. As many views as possible must be incorporated and research must ensure that the lesser voiced opinions are also accounted for. And while research should be air-tight, the piece must reflect sensitivity.

If done right, branded content of the kind discussed above can help the brand be a very relevant part of the culture which is increasingly anchoring itself in the fourth wave of feminism. A major chunk of space on social media is now dedicated to sexual intimacy, harassment, body-shaming or depictions in popular media. It, therefore, is essential that brands do their part of the talking. Normalising taboo or tackling subtle concepts around sexual intimacy can meaningfully place brands in the emergent feminist narrative.