Divorce is a difficult decision to make in the best of times. But in many parts of the Arab world, where it’s considered a man’s prerogative, it’s tougher still as a woman.
Brands don’t often enjoy taking on difficult topics, but a couple have started making sensitive overtures into divorce, including Ford and Ikea. Now, Unilever’s Brooke Bond Red Label Tea tackles the issue in a more culturally conservative setting, with help from agency Wunderman MENA.
“Are We Married to Social Acceptance?”, the first installment of its “Speak Your Heart” campaign, features entrepreneur and mother Ohoud. Her relationship is on the rocks, she and her husband are exhausted from their efforts to keep things afloat, and the fighting is taking an emotional toll on their daughter.
Here, behind a red curtain and with an obscured voice, she tries garnering support from her father—who isn’t guaranteed to react all that well.
This isn’t just a big step in Arab markets; it’s also big for the West, where Arab norms and masculinity are often vilified. What we get here is a daughter, terrified to break bad news about the most intimate part of her life. This situation, however staged, provides an outlet to outline her issues openly.
On the other side of the curtain is a father, who reminds me a lot of my own dad when faced with one of my problems: He studies the elements. He gauges whether all the factors have been considered. He gives the kind of advice fathers give—stay cordial, put your daughter first, have you spoken with your family…?
The reveal is just as emotional; Dad is clearly not thrilled about this con, and his eyes convey both hurt and surprise. “You told me it was a stranger. Not my own daughter!” he cries at the studio.
“Dad, forgive me,” Ohoud says.
“It’s not about forgiving you. This matter is much bigger,” he answers.
The next scene, which follows his coming to terms with the situation, is a closing straight out of Seventh Heaven. Over pretty glasses of bright red tea, a father gives his daughter his closing reflections on her situation. She thanks him for his support.
“You’re my precious daughter,” he answers. “I’ll always be there for you.”
It isn’t clear whether things would have gone better or worse without a camera, curtain or strangers around. We behave differently when situations demand an audience. But both people in this tiny life play not only get the chance to express what’s difficult in very little time; they also get a shot at playing the best versions of themselves—strong and vulnerable in Ohoud’s case; pragmatic but tender in her father’s.
“Ohoud is not only real, but every bit as strong as she comes across here. She inspired us to take the ‘Speak Your Heart’ platform to the next level, wherein we could tackle difficult subjects from a very ear-to-the-ground viewpoint,” says Wunderman MENA executive creative director Piotr Chrobot.
The campaign’s goal is to show how real conversation, ideally over tea, can help bridge differences and tackle difficult subjects. Brooke Bond Label Tea also hopes it will trigger heartfelt debate and conversation within the Arab community.
Client: Brooke Bond Red Label Tea
Agency: Wunderman MENA
Piotr Chrobot: Executive Creative Director
Louis Moghabghab: Creative Group Head
Hassan Bilgrami: Senior Copywriter
Nabila Zaidi: Copywriter
Shimaa Nabil: Copywriter
Nidheesh Jose: Artworker
Alvaro Bretel: Strategy Director
Carla Louis: Creative Services Manager
Georges Kallab: Group Account Director
Pooja Sookur: Junior Account Director
Anjali Makhija: Senior Account Executive
Production House: Monda
Raja Zgheib: Producer
Myrna Maakaron: Director
DOP: Anne Misslewitz