I wrote a review on Teeli’s first web series ‘Summer Love’, when it was airing, you can read it here. That was last summer, the digital media platform has now released its second web-series, ‘Superheroes’ in association with Shan Foods.
‘Superheroes’ is written by Teeli’s Head of Content, Gul Zaib Shakeel, who was also behind one of Teeli’s early releases, ‘The Harassed Women Awards’ which was witty, crisp and much needed. ‘Superheroes’, the four-episode web series shows the story of Laila, Zeenat, Amber and Natasha, four women from different walks of life. Before we talk more about the web-series itself, let’s talk about Shan Foods.
The brand recently launched its campaign #MoreThanJustACook, showcasing that women can be more than, you guessed it, just a cook! Let’s have a round of applause? Shan Foods launched in 1981 and its great to see that after nearly thirty years, they realised women can be more than just cooks – kudos to the brand that decided to up their ratings and viewings by piggyback riding onto a global campaign and using it to drive sales.
The description of the video reads: ‘For far too long have age-old stereotypes riled the women of our society. Not anymore, it’s time for a change! Women will be celebrated for all that they do beyond the kitchen and all that they are will come to the fore!’
Is Shan Foods brave for doing this campaign and funding a web-series that is supposed to be about women empowerment? Is Shaan Foods a game changer for supporting the cause? No. It is just a brand using a global movement to its advantage when it saw fit to do so after years of pushing the same old values dubbed as ‘cultural’ to limit the role of women in society.
I have one question, does the marketing team of Shan Foods not know what native branding it? The product placement in the web-series is forced, extremely obvious and visually disruptive. It would have been better if the brand had gotten another DVC made instead, if all it wanted to do was flaunt its masalas and their packaging.
Its 2020 for heavens sake, its time brands realised that the audience wants to watch content with smarter brand integrations. Getting your money’s worth for sponsored content should not be measured by how obviously your product is placed.
The sets of superheroes are elaborate, the cast seems to fit their roles well and the best thing is that the women in the web series are those I can relate to more easily than those that I see on TV. While there are a few positives to the series, there is much to be missed.
During the first half of episode one, you keep wondering what’s missing until you realise there is almost no background music – and when its there, its ill-timed and doesn’t do much to elevate scenes. The audio of the dialogues itself is shoddy, high-pitched and unbalanced at times. Another thing I picked up on was the colour grading of the series, it’s a bit too dull for my taste, I would have wanted the colours to pop a bit, especially since the trailer and intro animation are so vibrant. The crop bars placed on the episodes also leave you wanting to see more of the frame. Ultimately, there isn’t much on screen to entice you.
For Teeli’s first web-series, my criticism was that the sets seemed too perfect and constructed, for this series the sets seemed almost bare.
Each episode is 15 minutes long, but it moves at a slow pace and is uneventful. You can feel the disconnect from one scene to another; in digital content, you expect speed and crispness, but this series seemed more like a soap in the way the episodes ran.
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like one. The narratives are too forced, every dialogue circles around issues women face due to cultural norms and social constructs and it ends up looking unnatural. Women are not defined by their problems and their restrictions, I was expecting to see empowered women meeting their problems head on – and I was expecting to see them flourish and own their space.
However, it came off as though the brand wanted to cement their campaign in every way possible, in every dialogue literally, and maybe Teeli caved into that pressure. I had hoped for more from Teeli. Whether the technical issues arose due to budget constraints, or the creative oversight was due to strict brand guidelines from Shan Foods, I can’t say for sure. If these decisions were taken by Teeli, they should rethink their creative direction.
Was this partnership a bitter pill Teeli had to swallow to keep the company running and funding internal projects? Should the creative team have stood their ground in the face of possible pressure from the brand? Should Shan Foods rethink its marketing and branding policy? These are a few questions both teams should ask themselves before moving onto newer projects. Because let’s be honest, the audience isn’t naive.