Advertising and the Two Indias

29 Nov,2021

 

 

By Prabhakar Mundkur

 

Prabhakar MundkurAdvertising like the other arts of cinema, music, is the perfect mirror of an emerging society. Often the arts can lead society, and at other times, it may just be a mirror of where society is today. It’s important for a brand to constantly search for cues from our daily living. So, a brand can often be a mirror of where we are but equally a brand may lead society into their own future.

 

But advertising like cinema is good at constantly exploring emerging societal trends. Of picking up something that exists today but may not still be big. I think it is brave for any art to pick up an emerging trend that is not necessarily popular or fits societal norms. Titan is one brand that comes to my mind which is constantly leading from the front. Unfortunately, it has also meant that it has often come under fire for being experimentative. You will remember how it got trolled for the Tanishq ad last year which showed a real situation which revolved around an inter-faith couple and the husband’s family. One can’t deny that inter-faith marriages do exist in India and perhaps they are only growing. But that ad was from one of the Indias and trolled by the other India.

 

Another ad that got into trouble with one of the Indias, was the Manyawar ad featuring Alia Bhat. Because of a play of words that the ad engaged in where the ritual of Kanyadaan was interpreted as Kanyamaan.

 

 

And now comes another ad from Tanishq again in the area of marriage and relationships. And I can’t help feeling that it has done a good job of appealing to both Indias. Or has is?

 

 

The conversations between the couples in the ad are very real, honest and portray the trust and confidence that two partners can place with each other by sharing their innermost doubts, desires and thoughts with each other. But equally I think it portrays a certain equality between a man and a woman in a relationship.

 

For years, we have portrayed the Indian woman as subservient, something that is backed by the new GenderNext report (https://ascionline.in/gendernextreport/2/index.html) from the ASCI which says:

 

“Women being featured in care-taking roles, placing the good of the family and friends as their primary focus and concern

:: Women being targeted for beauty products featuring an unrealistic and unobtainable standard of beauty

:: Women being informed and educated by the voice of a male authority figure”

The Tanishq ad I thought breaks the traditional stereotype of how women have been portrayed in advertising. It is steering the portrayal of women in a very positive direction, while simultaneously exploring the deep relationship and trust that life partners can place with each other.

 

Is the real India like this one may ask? Yes and No. I think, that in urban centres we can see man-woman relationships like the ones in the ad, but I can’t help feeling that as we move down the population strata, it may still be quite unrealistic.

 

This ad may still be appealing to only one of the Indias and most probably this is the Tanishq target audience. What is different and perhaps a lesson for advertisers in the future is that it is possible to talk to only one of the Indias without upsetting the other!

 

 

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