In Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India, Hamam soap with its superior skin protection is a household name. In 2017, Hamam launched a movement to protect more than just skin. It started to spark societal change by empowering women with means to counter social aggressors and helping them #GoSafeOutside.
Hamam wanted to build equity beyond its home turf of Tamil Nadu. The 2019 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad (North India) presented itself as a big opportunity. For 3 months every 12 years, Kumbh becomes the largest congregation in India where crores of women and men come to take a holy dip and wash away their sins.
However, a bigger sin was being committed. On-ground experiences and soft reports in media spoke about women devotees being crassly objectified.
Even a web search on ‘Women at Kumbh’ shows women in wet, transparent sarees unlike images of men in prayer. Women devotees would speak of unsolicited pictures, ogling and more.
Hamam provided them with a simple yet effective solution - Waterproof Sarees! The traditional attire of Indian women transformed to help the female devotees to #GoSafeOutside when they take the holy dip.
The objective was clear – Help women devotees combat unsolicited attention + drive awareness about their right to be viewed dispassionately at such mass gatherings.
With an intention to spark conversations around preserving women’s modesty and empowering them at the Kumbh, Hamam put action to intent by refusing to attach any business angle to this initiative.
During Kumbh 2019, Hamam elevated the meaning of protection and safety beyond skin and body and created a differentiated own-able position.
It started by sponsoring women-only changing rooms at the Kumbh, but this wasn’t enough as the cotton/nylon sarees worn by these women would become wet, clingy and transparent during the holy dip, leaving them vulnerable to unsolicited attention and pictures.
Giving away ponchos/raincoats would have been the easiest solution, but the Kumbh Snan (Holy Dip) is a religious ritual and sarees are integral to tradition and culture for Indian women. Why should a woman compromise her beliefs to counter perverts? This rhetoric was the germ of the idea - India’s (and probably, the world’s) first ever ‘Waterproof Saree’.
We landed a unique waterproofing solution that was double-coated on polyester blend fabric; turning a regular sari aqua-phobic for several dips and washes. A charming yellow, it looks like any Indian saree, but armed with an added layer of protection.
The very source of vulnerability was transformed into a shield, a protest!
It was impossible to match the numbers at Kumbh but given the budget and time realities, we were able to distribute 5000 sarees. To maximise impact, we distributed the sarees on 4 key dates at the festival where the crowd is 5x than on a regular day.
Larger the gathering, more the risk – also maximum opportunity for our on-ground teams to educate people about the saree.
Using Kumbh as a ‘Big Bang’ platform not only brought the #GoSafeOutside movement alive but also got its most important consumers - women; to experience the brand’s philosophy firsthand and when they needed it the most.