How one brand hopes to disrupt the laundry sector with unstereotypical ads

Laundry and homecare business Henkel is looking to banish sexist stereotypes as it readies a number of “disruptive” campaigns.

Laundry and homecare business Henkel is looking to “disrupt” advertising in the sector with the launch more diverse and emotionally-driven campaigns.

Nikki Vadera, who joined Henkel five months ago as marketing director for laundry and homecare, says she is sick of the sexist stereotypes that have long been associated with household products.

“In all our adverts we were showing a white housewife in her mid-40s cleaning the toilet with her Marigolds on. That’s not the consumer these days.”

Since joining the business Vadera’s mission has been to steer the company away from these outdated concepts, and in September two of the company’s leading brands Bloo and Colour Catcher are launching new campaigns – with not a rubber glove in sight.

She explains: “Ultimately Colour Catcher is a sheet you put in your washing machine but one of the things we really tapped into is the changing consumer. We want to show you’re not just a mother or a business woman, a friend or a colleague, people have these different personalities that they show throughout the day and that is emulated in their washing.

“For example, I come to work in corporate clothes, then I go to the gym and then a meet a friend for a drink. That’s three different outfits in one day and you could argue three different personalities in one day as well.”

The campaign features a female football playing scientist and a lawyer who moonlights as a drag queen. This isn’t a gimmick – diversity is high on the agenda for Vadera.

She says: “I’m a woman in my 30s with an Indian background. I’ve grown up with not necessarily being the stereotypical personality that you see within communication.

“A lot of communication in the laundry and homecare category used to focus on women doing the cleaning and that’s not necessarily true of my generation, where it might be shared with your partner. That diversity does not exist at the moment for women and it’s what I want to bring to the industry.”

READ MORE: Ariel launches biggest marketing push for a decade as it looks to get laundry market back in growth

Delivering real diversity

For every truly diverse advert there are 20 more that fall flat. This is something Vadera is clearly mindful of and she is passionate about diversity being delivered in the right way.

“That’s not just about putting someone of a different ethnicity on an ad,” she explains. “It’s about actually really tapping into consumer insight and realising that women aren’t just housewives or career women but are juggling all these different parts and personalities and same goes for men.

“This extends to the traditional family set up, it doesn’t have to be a husband and a wife it could be a female or male couple.”

Despite being a huge global brand, Vadera says that compared to P&G and Unilever she sees Henkel as a challenger.

“It’s quite different to other FMCG brands because we have the challenger brands versus the Procter & Gambles the Unilevers. Although we do have brands within our portfolio that are leaders within the segment, overall we are a challenger,” she says.

The company has been growing at a steady pace but Vadera is looking to accelerate growth and says that being a challenger has helped her take risks.

She concludes: “You can play a bit more and not stick to the status quo and you’re not so concerned about doing what you’ve always done because you know you’ve got to do something different.”