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Indian ads touch upon social issues in order to hit a chord among audiences

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Indian ad promoting their "Touch The Pickle" campaign. Image source: aww.com.au
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New Delhi: A growing number of Indian ads seem to be touching upon social issues like gender stereotyping while marketing products, and hitting a chord among audiences.

Why should laundry be a woman’s job? asks a new TV commercial for a detergent. It features the father of a young, working woman who gives voice to inequality in homes.

So are Indian ads coming of age as far as gender sensitivity is concerned? Yes, say many, although there are still those fairness ads that equate success and happiness with the skin tone of a woman. Or a man.

But coming to the ones that have positive messages riding on them, the latest ad of Ariel’s “Share the Load” campaign has gone viral on the social media, a testimony to its popularity. Sharat Verma, associate brand director of Fabric Care, P&G India, said that commercial approach is a part of a bigger movement of making ads that are more purposeful and meet the needs of consumers.

“According to a study by a private agency that we have supported, two out of three children in India agree that washing clothes are only their mother’s job. And 73 percent married women agree that mothers teach household chores to only their daughters, not sons. But ironically, 79 percent fathers would want to get their daughters married to a man who will help with household chores. This campaign, therefore, takes the conversation on social inequality within households forward,” Verma told reporters.

The best ads also avoid a sermonising tone.

Another one that won many hearts was a sanitary napkin’s ‘Touch the Pickle’ campaign. Challenging the age-old superstition that associated menstruating women with ‘impurity’, the ad hit a chord with the masses and went on to win the Glass Lion at Cannes. A new award category, the Glass Lion seeks to honour work that challenges gender stereotype.

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO, the agency behind ‘Touch the Pickle’, said that ads with social messages are a response to what is happening in society.

“There are 10,000 videos released in a day around the world. To make your presence felt in such a rush, you have to connect to the audience. We try to identify a conflict, like gender stereotyping or gender inequality in education and resolve it. The brand does well commercially because it touches the people, and the social message also goes through,” Paul said.

BBDO’s ad for Visa Debit Card was another video that challenged one to think of solutions to age-old problems. Set in a village in Rajasthan where girls drop out of school because they have to walk miles to get water, the protagonist purchases sewing machines online, and then gets tailor-made saris for the young women with alphabets on them. This way they can learn to read from each other’s saris while going to get water.

K V Sridhar, chief creative officer, SapientNitro India, says that Indian advertising has come a long way and with people wanting to break norms and challenge stereotypes, the ad world has started reflecting it. “A campaign is all about treatment and if a big brand is able to treat bold concepts subtly, then the message will be disseminated in a better way,” he said. “It will also encourage smaller brands to follow suit,” he added.

Ragini Sharma, an advertising professional, however, opined that ads such as the ones mentioned or which have a social message, do not necessarily imply that change had arrived. “But there is definitely a shift. I mean, for every one ad that touches you or makes you think, there will be three others that, well, don’t. There’s however no denying that movement ads are becoming very popular,” she said.

Paul agrees and adds that the ad world is moving ahead from slogan chanting to becoming platforms of unmet needs. “Honestly, you don’t know what will do well. With social media, you now get the immediate reaction. All you got to do is be as authentic as possible. True empathy creates a following,” he said. (Azera Parveen Rahman, IANS)

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Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech

A law providing for hefty fines for social media companies if they do not remove

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In this Jan. 4, 2018, file photo, a man demonstrates how he enters his Facebook page as he works on his computer in Brasilia, Brazil. Facebook is once again tweaking the formula it uses to decide what people see in their news feed.
In this Jan. 4, 2018, file photo, a man demonstrates how he enters his Facebook page as he works on his computer in Brasilia, Brazil. Facebook is once again tweaking the formula it uses to decide what people see in their news feed. VOA

Social media companies Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have greatly accelerated their removals of online hate speech, reviewing over two thirds of complaints within 24 hours, new EU figures show.

The European Union has piled pressure on social media firms to increase their efforts to fight the proliferation of extremist content and hate speech on their platforms, even threatening them with legislation.

Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube signed a code of conduct with the EU in May 2016 to review most complaints within a 24-hour timeframe.

The companies managed to meet that target in 81 percent of cases, EU figures seen by Reuters show, compared with 51 percent in May 2017 when the European Commission last monitored their compliance with the code of conduct.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has said previously she does not want to see a removal rate of 100 percent as that could impinge on free speech. She has also said she is not in favor of legislating as Germany has done.

Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech
Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech, VOA

A law providing for hefty fines for social media companies if they do not remove hate speech quickly enough went into force in Germany this year.

“I do not hide that I am not in favor of hard regulation because the freedom of speech for me is almost absolute,” Jourova told reporters in December.

“In case of doubt it should remain online because freedom of expression is [in a] privileged position.”

Of the hate speech flagged to the companies, almost half of it was found on Facebook, the figures show, while 24 percent was on YouTube and 26 percent on Twitter.

The most common ground for hatred identified by the Commission was ethnic origins, followed by anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia, including expressions of hatred against migrants and refugees.

Following pressure from several European governments, social media companies stepped up their efforts to tackle extremist content online, including through the use of artificial intelligence.

The Twitter app is seen on a mobile phone in Philadelphia, April 26, 2017
The Twitter app is seen on a mobile phone in Philadelphia, April 26, 2017, VOA

Also read: Social media use may affect teenagers’ real life relationship

The Commission will likely issue a recommendation, a soft law instrument, on how companies should take down extremist content related to militant groups at the end of February, an official said, as it is less nuanced than hate speech and needs to be taken offline more quickly. (VOA)