Ariel’s Share The Load campaign sparked a national conversation and walked away with the Grand Prix in the 2016 edition of the WARC Prize for Asia Strategy. Since then the brand has remained committed to the cause, finding new ways every year of convincing India’s men to share the load.

In 2015, laundry detergent brand Ariel needed a new way of connecting with India’s urban woman, as competitor Surf pulled ahead with its ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign which was changing the conversation people had about laundry.

The brand needed to find a deeper and more long-term level of resonance with its target audience of women between the age of 25 and 35 years across India's top metros. And its research found laundry to be the one house chore that symbolized the gender inequality at home - with 76% of Indian men surveyed believing that laundry is a woman's job.

This led to the articulation of Ariel's deeper purpose, which was to liberate women from the obligation of doing laundry. The 'Share The Load' campaign kicked off with a simple question: Is laundry only a woman's job? – and sparked a national conversation. As a result, 1.57 million men pledged to share the load, while Ariel benefited from US$10 million in earned-media publicity, in addition to doubling its value and volume sales, which grew 106% and 105% respectively

"Gender empowerment is a very critical initiative that great brands should support," said Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, 2016 Jury Chair for the Prize and then-global head of brand and CMO of Standard Chartered Bank. "Ariel's 'Share The Load' campaign brings this sensitive subject to life in a very heart-warming way. It stood out among the many brands in Asia which are getting increasingly involved with social good.”

The agency behind the campaign, BBDO India, reflects on the campaign’s impact in this Q&A with WARC.

Thinking back to the winning campaign, would you still use the same strategy today that you did then?

Ariel India launched the #ShareTheLoad movement in India five years ago to address the inequality that exists within Indian households. In 2015, we raised a provocative question ‘Is laundry only a woman’s job’ drawing attention to the uneven distribution of domestic chores. With ‘Dads Share The Load’ in 2016, the conversation was aimed at helping to address the root cause - the cycle of prejudice passed down from one generation to the next.

In 2019, we started to drive action, urging parents to raise their sons like they have been raising their daughters, so that the future generation is more equal! Early this year we launched ‘Share the load for equal sleep’. When men don’t share the load, what ends up getting impacted is a basic and everyday phenomenon – women’s sleep! The unaccounted hours of early mornings and late nights, which are usually spent by her in wrapping up the chores she couldn’t complete during the day! Research shows that 71% women in India sleep less than their husbands due to household chores.

This way, every year we uncover a new truth and offer men one more reason to share the load at home. While doing so we are mindful of the changing social-cultural context, consumer sentiment and the dynamic media consumption environment. What doesn’t change in our approach is the moment of realisation. A hidden truth that no one has seen or thought about or talking about before. A truth that will incite action.

Right now, we are all going through a changing reality. The lockdown situation has seen the world staying at home. This has resulted in new hopes and dreams but also new challenges for women. We’ll continue to be on her side as we look for ways to encourage equality at home.

Any unfinished business with this particular campaign?

Over the last five years, Ariel has been able to impact the mindset of millions of Indian men. When we began the campaign in 2015, 79% men believed that laundry is a woman’s job. That number has steadily declined. Today that figure stands at 41%. So, there’s been steady progress. But there’s still more work to be done. Even today, only 35% men contribute daily towards household chores. That’s unfinished business.

Did winning the Grand Prix that year help improve the overall culture of effectiveness at the agency? Did it help spark inspiration or drive motivation in that regard?

We are grateful to WARC Asia and the jury for awarding us the Grand Prix for effectiveness. It has encouraged us to keep the campaign going for five years now. Each year we are rewarded by the impact it has on our consumers, on society and on the effectiveness jury. It continues to create new energy for the agency, our clients and for the industry at large. There’s a feeling that we are doing the right thing. It’s a feeling that spreads across our agency and our brands!

What was it like to win the WARC’s Asia Strategy Grand Prix? What made this award different from the others?

Winning the WARC’s Asia Strategy Grand Prix was a joyful validation. It recognises and celebrates the values and point of view that went into creating transformative work. It encourages the company and the co-creators to continue to lead with these beliefs and purpose. The jury at WARC Asia are people we look up to. They include marketers and senior industry leaders who understand the degree of difficulty that goes into making work that works to transform the fortunes of brands.

What would be your message or advice to this year’s Prize hopefuls?

We did not start out by saying we’ll get the Grand Prix. You can’t write that. The important thing is to win the emotional Grand Prix! To gain the love and appreciation of the people that the campaign touches. To see your audience become volunteers and hand-raisers for your idea and action. To see your work making a difference. That’s the ‘Emotional Grand Prix’. We aim for that. It feels more human.

WARC subscribers can read the full case study here.

This article is part of a special content programme marking the tenth anniversary of the WARC Prize for Asia Strategy. The 2020 edition is open for entries, with the deadline on 14 July. The Prize is free to enter and winning papers will share a prize fund of $10,000. For further information, visit the website or email