It was on a casual phone call between Sarthak and Pranavesh, schoolmates who are now separated by the Atlantic Ocean, that they got talking about the ridiculous dominance of men in the advertising industry. “Most corporates comprise of straight white men trying to sell you things,” said Pranavesh, one of the creators of Manitary Pads. “Ads don’t feature men on-screen, but all creative and production decisions are made by men.”
They did their research – this Guardian article talks about how only 11% of the world’s creative directors are women. This leads to women, who make 85% of all purchasing decisions, feeling alienated by advertising.
Sarthak and Pranavesh then decided to make the implicit explicit in their video Manitary Pads, which has been going viral on Facebook and YouTube. “We decided to make a video which made it obvious just how male-dominated the advertising industry was, even when the products in question were used by women.”
The pair conceptualised the idea in mid-November 2016, while Pranavesh was in the UK and Sarthak in India. They did their homework too, making a short questionnaire and sending it out to women they knew. Questions ranged from asking women how sanitary pad adverts made them feel, what were the weirdest/rudest things they had heard about their periods, and what they wished men understood about periods. They had about 8 or 9 respondents, some of whom were British.
Pranavesh says that the most striking thing about his respondents’ answers were how similar they were, despite the cultural differences among the respondents (Indian women and white British women). “I had no idea that so many women felt the same way,” he says. The most common frustration that the women said was, “People think I am on my period just because I am angry.”
As for menstrual taboos, Pranavesh says he was exposed to them quite early in his life, when he found out that his mother could not enter the puja room because she was menstruating. Taboos are not restricted to India, however. Pranavesh reported that one of his British friends spoke about how her father would get disgusted every time a sanitary pad advert that featured actual blood played on the television.
So was the video a learning experience for the creators themselves? “Absolutely,” says Pranavesh. It was important for them, as men, to call out male entitlement and privilege because, as he says, “No one is talking about it.” I agree – it really is about time men stop making creative decisions about marketing women’s products! Tip o’ the hat to these hilarious creators – you can check them out on YouTube because they intend to make more badass videos!