Rediffusion Brand Solutions recently launched Ladyfinger, an agency for women by women, which aims to elevate women’s perspectives. It wants to break through the casual gender stereotyping that characterises so much of advertising. Tista Sen, former regional creative director of Wunderman Thompson, South Asia, is leading Ladyfinger as its CEO and CCO. Excerpts:
Ladyfinger is an unusual name. How did you come up with it?
I wanted the name to have attitude without it being an attitude word. I had come up with five names, but unanimously everyone chose Ladyfinger. Different people saw different things in the name — attitude, fun, a vibe. I am a very quick decision maker and closed on it.
What is the structure of Ladyfinger going to be like? You have put together a diverse panel of advisors like a Bollywood movie writer Juhi Chaturvedi, a journalist and so on.
Today advertising is not just ads. It could be entertainment, music fests, comedy. When I am thinking of a brand solve, it could be a music piece; not a jingle, but a proper music album. The idea behind the panel is that if tomorrow I want to do something on Bollywood, I have Juhi Chaturvedi to draw on. I also have a lawyer Sheetal Kumar, with whom I want to work on educating urban women about their legal rights. What we want to do is really listen to women, do things with them, and not talk down to them.
It’s true that the female perspective is often missing in advertising. But do you really need an agency exclusively staffed by women to solve that problem? Couldn’t it have been done within the existing agency structure?
The answer is a resounding no. You have to do it in depth with a clear focus. The idea we have is to deep dive and build a new paradigm for women — it could be policy, it could be part of getting women back to work. It is also about giving women within the industry a tone of voice. It is a far more holistic idea than just creating an advertising campaign. An all women team can lead to more breakthrough thinking and more nuances.
Can you share any agency work that captures today’s feminine perspective well. Also a campaign that you personally have done that you are proud of.
Well, I really liked the Swiggy ad which shows a mother busy pursuing her own interest, and her kid comes and interrupts asking what’s for lunch. She just thrusts her phone and says to order whatever you want. That’s what I meant by nuanced real work. The mother is shown as an individual.
As to my work, I liked the work I did for ITC on Engage. It was the first deo created for men and women. Him and Her. We decided to do equal communication about couples at a time when the whole category was talking about attraction. We shifted the narrative and talked about couples coming together.
Last year I did something for Lux for breast cancer awareness. The insight was that women do not do check-ups regularly.
We created a soap with a lump to remind women that when they are bathing they could check for lumps. That was a different kind of work.