Jaldi 5 with Gopi Kukde: No gender bias in advertising

18 Oct,2012

Veteran adperson Gopi Kukde was one of the mentors invited by Population First for the creative thinking workshops engaging mass media students on gender issues. Although the International Day of the Girl Child was celebrated last week, Mr Kukde has been travelling and he completed this interview via email over the last week.


01. It was good to see the first ever International Day of the Girl Child being celebrated last week. How do we prevent it from being mere tokenism (as in, what are the steps that need to be taken to avoid it being just another ‘day’)?

It always happens that a ‘top-of-mind’ event is spoken about and celebrated for a few days. Unless we feel for the cause from bottom of our hearts it is difficult, rather impossible to convert it into a revolution. Nevertheless one must keep on trying!


02. In your experience with interacting with marketers and advertising agency professionals, do you think they are sincere in their attempts to appreciate the responsibility towards the ‘girl child’ in a society like ours?

Yes and no. While most of them look at it as an opportunity to win an award, which is why you see most shallow attempts time and again, there are some professionals in this award-crazy world who do it as a social responsibility.


Though I feel that a lot of professionalism and science needs to be added to our attempts for, the task is a mammoth one. It is an issue that is spread across the country for centuries, in different levels, sometimes absolutely contradicting each other.


Do you think self-regulation bodies like ASCI and Advertising Club and AAAI should also take it upon themselves to promote the cause?


Although I believe that advertising is a smaller part of the pie in such a movement, the larger part depends on the government, the media and the social leaders. In this situation, the more the merrier, without making it a case of too many cooks complicating matters. For this we need a systematic approach and a strong belief in the cause. The more systematic we are better the results would be.


03. Your views on gender biases in today’s advertising?

For the last 35 years I have not come across any instance like this, which is why I am proud of advertising as a profession!


04. One view of marketers is that they need to sell to consumers given the prevailing behavioural patterns and they can’t be correcting those. How do change this view? (Marketers often feel that they need to sell according to prevailing Indian consumer attitudes and mentality and that there is little they can do to change that. How do you think this can be tackled?)

I don’t think so. Advertising has changed many perceptions. Yes, it might take time, but constant efforts will definitely show results.


05. Television serials, television and print media content also further aggravate this image of women. What is your view on this?

You are right, our television serials and some other media do portray a woman the way she shouldn’t be. The ultimate goal they look for is TRP and sales. This would automatically reduce once this small effort becomes a movement.


(Interviewed by Fatema Rajkotwala)


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