This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen – showing how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed from generation to generation. When little girls and boys play house they model their parents' behavior; this doesn’t just impact their childhood games, it shapes their long-term dreams. In this #SharetheLoad campaign, Ariel India, P&G, and BBDO Worldwide show how fathers and husbands can take small steps (like doing laundry) to create more equal homes. They won a #GlassLion at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for earlier work on this campaign. The real win is the way they are changing stereotypes and showing that a more equal world would be a better world for all of us. Dads, #ShareTheLoad and #LeanInTogether for equality. Thank you Andrew Robertson, Marc Pritchard, Sonali Dhawan,Vidya Murthy, Sharat Verma, Shailesh Jejurikar, Josy Paul, and Mohammed Ismail.

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016

 

The genre of ads that play off gender issues has gone global.

On Wednesday, Sheryl Sandberg shared a commercial on her Facebook page she called "one of the most powerful videos she's ever seen." The ad, from Ariel India, a Procter & Gamble laundry detergent brand, shows a working mother juggling all the evening responsibilities she has at home.

She checks that her son has done his homework. She prepares dinner. She picks up toys. And she's on the phone during it all, telling someone at work an email is coming in five minutes. Her husband, meanwhile, is sitting on the couch with his laptop the whole time, sipping tea and demanding she wash his shirt.

The twist in this ad -- which follows other advertising efforts to tap into the frustration over gender stereotypes or double standards, like the Pantene "Sorry Not Sorry" campaign -- is that the woman's father, who acts as the narrator, is writing to his daughter in the form of a heartfelt letter she reads at the end. He's woken up to what she faces, and spends the ad apologizing for the challenges she confronts as a working mother in a society where men are not expected to share as much in the responsibilities at home (or #sharetheload, as the campaign's hashtag states).

"You used to play house," the father says in the ad. "Now you manage your own house. And your office. I am so proud. And so sorry." He watches her scurry around the kitchen, making tea for her husband, checking her laptop, helping her son take off a stained shirt.

The ad is another example of what's been called the "femvertising" trend, in which brands play off the rise of #hashtag feminism and the popularity of gender issues on social media to get people to well, buy shampoo. Always' #LikeAGirl campaign video, for instance, has racked up nearly 61 million views on YouTube.

Still, it's notable that the concept may be catching on in regions around the world where gender norms are even more entrenched than they are in the west. And rather than speaking just to women, it attempts to show the issue from a father's point of view -- and show that he can change.

"Sorry that you have to do this all alone," the father says. "Sorry that I never stopped you, while you were playing house. I never told you that it's not your job alone. But your husband's, too." He recognizes that he didn't ever help his wife, and that what she saw, she learned. At the end of the video, he goes home and helps his wife with the laundry.

This campaign went further. In a video about it, which won a Glass Lion at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, its creators described how it asked some designers and clothing brands to put "can be washed by both men and women #sharetheload" on clothes' wash care label. They also tied up with matrimonial web sites in India to add a question that reads "will you share the load with your partner?" in users' profiles.

It also speaks to an issue -- the sharing of household chores -- that's getting increasing attention. In addition to Sandberg, who's written about the issue frequently, Melinda Gates addressed the topic in an annual letter for the Gates Foundation she and husband Bill Gates issued earlier this week.

Calling "more time" the superpower she wished she had, Gates wrote that "girls today will spend hundreds of thousands more hours than boys doing unpaid work simply because society assumes it’s their responsibility. Unpaid work is what it says it is: It’s work, not play, and you don’t get any money for doing it."

That's particularly true in less affluent countries, she wrote: "The fact is that the burden of unpaid work falls heaviest on women in poor countries, where the hours are longer and the gap between women and men is wider. In India, to take one example, women spend about 6 hours, and men spend less than 1 hour."

Read also:

The Barbie commercial you have to see

Cracking the feminist psyche, and wallet

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