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The Barbershop Girls: Shaving stereotypes

basics
Industry: House, Garden & Pets
Media:TV & Cinema
Style: Minimalism
descriptioncnen
Why is this work relevant for Entertainment Lions for Music?

Music contributes to shaping culture as it evolves with the times we’re living in. One such musical tradition that needed to change was the ’Sohar’, a folk music style that is centuries- old and finds its roots in the mythological scriptures of India. Sung to celebrate the birth of a boy, this ancient custom has been passed down from one generation to the other, further perpetuating gender stereotypes.
So when Gillette decided to present the true story of two sisters who shaved these age-old stereotypes, they also wanted the music to signal a change.

Background

As the leading men’s brand, Gillette felt the responsibility to step up and take an active part in breaking gender stereotypes and creating a positive influence on culture. Their new philosophy of inspiring the best in men found common ground with the true story of two sisters from rural India who took on gender stereotypes by working as barbers.

We believed their action also challenged several age-old customs, like singing the ‘Sohar.’
While the girls did the unthinkable, we wanted to change such deep-rooted musical traditions that are passed down from one generation to the other. Because the men of tomorrow grow up watching the examples we set for them.

Describe the creative idea

We had an opportunity to re-appropriate the age-old practice of singing the ‘Sohar’ as it resonated strongly with the backdrop of our story. We thus composed a new rendition of the ‘Sohar’ and also added a relevant twist to the lyrics of the song. The lyrics urge the viewer to rejoice the birth of a girl with equal fervour, for even she can bring glory to the family. Adding more meaning to the overall message of the film.

Describe the strategy

Music is a device that records the culture of a place. And in doing so, it not only mirrors culture but also propagates it. Children have impressionable minds. They’re quick to pick up on even the subtlest of messages. They learn from not only what they see, but also from what they listen to. You often find young children memorizing lyrics to a song without fully realizing the biases in them. Hence Gillette felt that it was necessary to use the power of music in a much more responsible way to reshape the archaic notions present in our culture. But more importantly, to stop these notions from influencing the next generation.

Describe the execution

We first studied different versions of the traditional ‘Sohar’ in order to identify the common phraseology used in the lyrics and the style of folk music. Then with the help of a local lyricist, we began working on our version of the ‘Sohar’, which featured a relevant twist. We rewrote the lyrics and christened the song as the ‘New Sohar’. It was composed using traditional and contemporary musical elements reflecting the changing times.

After featuring in the film and gathering over 50 million views, we uploaded the ‘New Sohar’ on music streaming platforms like SoundCloud which caught the attention of prominent figures from the music industry, who applauded this endeavour. The aim was to have the new ‘Sohar’ celebrate the birth of a girl too, with equal fervour.

Describe the outcome

Garnering over 50 Mn views and close to 42 Mn conversations across social media in just 2 WEEKS #ShavingStereotypes caused a conversation unparalleled in India. With over 99% of the comments being positive, there was an outpour of support for the Barbershop Girls, within and outside digital media. Brand conversations went up by over 700%. The campaign earned 2.8 Bn PR impressions worth INR 113 Mn.

People applauded the intent behind this new rendition of the ‘Sohar’, including many artists from the music fraternity. Many called it a cultural milestone, and felt that music of all things, shouldn’t hold any biases. With thousands of comments that echoed similar sentiments, the track on public demand, was finally made available on various audio streaming platforms. In fact, the girls were also invited to one of India’s biggest radio stations – Red FM, where they shared some more light into their story.
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awards
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Silver Entertainment Lions for Music
Use of Licensed / Adapted Music
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