Have you been kicked out of a housing society because you were unmarried? Did your landlord ask you to sacrifice your non-vegetarian culinary skills? Did your domicile play an important role in deciding your rental agreement?
If the answer to any or all the above questions is a yes, then you are part of the demographic who have tried to rent or buy homes in an Indian city, only to be denied because you were either single, ate meat, or were of a certain religion.
One brand that has managed to capture this insight and offer a solution is NestAway. With a mission to overcome biases and barriers faced by urban migrants, NestAway aims to resolve these issues by providing rental solutions using design and technology.
We talk to the creative brains behind the company’s recent #HomesThatDontDiscriminate campaign.
What was the genesis of the campaign #HomesThatDontDiscriminate?
As a leader in our space, we do believe that there are two aspects to solving the problem of urban migrant housing. One is barriers, which are logistical problems and hence, easier, and we feel like we have solved that at a broader level. We have made living conditions better, seamless, and helped people move to a new city. The second problem is that of biases, which are mindsets that prevent seamless acceptance of a so-called ‘outsider’ into a new city, and are the more difficult bits to solve. Discrimination has been in our society for so long. We want to go over and beyond, and ensure you live happily. The largest part of our democracy is dominated by single people and they are the most discriminated against. So, they became our point to begin with. We are working towards both these issues and our first campaign, #HomesThatDontDiscriminate, is one of the many steps we have taken in that direction. Using humour, we want to bring this problem to the mainstream and hope to fuel a dialogue that will eventually help resolve this.
Is this just a creative campaign or are you also integrating the concept with your offering?
All our products are already aligned with this idea. The campaign timing was so beautiful and it worked well for us. The problem that we have been trying to solve in the last two years, we were finally able to go out and tell the market that the problem we want to solve is not just something we only believe in, but also something that we are working on already. It is one of the many steps we have taken in the direction of removing biases and barriers. We wanted tongue-in-cheek humour, and to bring this problem to the mainstream. And we wanted to fuel a dialogue that will eventually help solve this. As a company, we have taken a stand, and now we are trying to get all stakeholders on board so that we can start a dialogue to end this discrimination.
We also believe that as a brand, you cannot have an isolated POV anymore; disjointed from whatever is happening. NestAway’s movement against discrimination is already underway, both in brand communication and brand behaviour.
The #TrumpDiscrimination ad got you guys immense brand love. What went behind conceptualizing this?
Trump in the English dictionary means defeat and that is all that we played on. This was not a personal attack on anyone; we have no right to do that and we are not doing that. We are just stating an opinion as a startup in the home rental space and trying to take a stand on our basic philosophy that homes should not discriminate. The #TrumpDiscrimination ad is our POV on what is happening all around us, in a space where we hope to make a strong positive impact. This is not a case of the movement wrapping itself around the #TrumpDiscrimination ad, but the other way around.
We are in the business of making the world a friendlier, more open and welcoming place for everybody regardless of their beliefs and faith, their colour, or gender, or their political or sexual persuasion. Our homes (or nests as we prefer them called) are merely the means to that end, and we are proud of the fact that every Nest we put up, is also another nail in the coffin of parochialism, regionalism, sexism and other ‘isms’ that populate the discriminatory universe.
Our battle is against the elements of the society that discriminate. That was the ideology and the attitude over which the campaign was conceptualized.
Why did you choose to take the print route with this ad?
Our idea was to educate people and sensitize them about the subject. And not all people – like some landlords or senior citizens – are on the digital medium. This was the first time we took a stand on something we strongly believe in. Discrimination is something we would never practice and we would like to be the change-makers in the society of startups. That was the entire point. So, there was no specific reason why we chose print, but we wanted the message to reach every corner.
This print ad will hopefully bring about a wave of difference in the way people think when they rent. How important is it for a brand to impart a social message?
We will not speak for any other brand. Our stance was strong because of our philosophy. We had not seen, in a very long time, someone claiming or standing to say that ‘this is something we will always abide by’. So, it was important for us to come out in the open and say things out loud. This is not just something we did on a conceptual level; this is something we have been following for years. It was important for us as a brand to voice our opinion. There is nothing to read between the lines. We were not trying to take on the Trump administration; it is not our place to do so. We stand by freedom and equality and that was our aim and intent.
Providing good customer service is at the core of what you do. How do you build relationships and drive more engagement?
For us, social media campaigns are a way to come out in the open and start stating what we are doing. Inside the company, we already have a customer-relationships team that talks to the tenant. We have a landlord/owner team that maintains relations with them. We are trying to bridge the gap and maintain individual relationships. So, if the owner has a problem, they just need to fill a form on the website and we will get in touch with them to help them in the process from end-to-end. If you are a tenant, all you need to do is go online, find a house that you like and we will help you with the rest. It is a very transparent process. So, it is not a campaign effort; it is what we believe in and we do.
In terms of content marketing, what is more important for NestAway – quality or quantity?
We were conceptualized in December 2014. In these two years, this is our first marketing campaign.
It is the quality that speaks first. For two years, we wanted to work and work; day-in and day-out. And even if you check news, it’s all about our funding. So, for us quality is utmost. Quantity will depend on the kind of work that we will do.