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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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I Have been Targeted By Paid Trolling, Trolls Can’t Shake Me: Swara Bhaskar

Swara Bhaskar thanked for trolling

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KRK tries to troll Swara Bhaskar and she destroys him with one tweet! flickr

Speaking on the current troll trail Swara says, “I have no comments for people who are petty, who are hypocritical or who slut-shame. I also have no comments for idiots. Currently I am ignoring these people and feeling very happy with the rest of the team of ‘Veere Di Wedding’ about the success of the film.

“A lot of people on social media are speaking up for me and I sincerely want to thank them all for the support.”

As far as being trolled for her masturbation sequence in “Veere Di Wedding” is concerned Swara comments, “I have been targeted by paid trolling in the past and I’m used to it. Many twitter-users and some prominent comedians and commentators have turned the ‘I took my Grandmother to watch VDW’ into very funny satirical comments on twitter . I’m grateful both for their support and their humour.”

About her contradictory opinion on Pakistan Swara clarifies, “I believe there should be a distinction between States/ Governments of a country and the civilians of that country. My regard for and goodwill towards the people of Pakistan remains unchanged. Some of my closest friends are Pakistani. Lahore remains one of my soul cities.”

Swara Bhaskar-starrer “Nil Battey Sannata”, which portrays an account of a single parent acting as a residential guarantee that her little girl gets great instruction, is having a decent keep running in the cinema world.
Swara Bhaskar-starrer “Nil Battey Sannata”, which portrays an account of a single parent acting as a residential guarantee that her little girl gets great instruction, is having a decent keep running in the cinema world. Flickr

Her last words on trolling are significant.

“I believe the social media is a virtual public place just like restaurants, parks and cinema halls. Just as we expect a decent level of behaviour we must insist on decent and decorum on social media. If we see someone being abused slammed or slut shamed in a public place wouldn’t we stand up and defend the person from being attacked.

“Likewise we must stand up and protect the social media from indecent uncivilized attacks. Basically I am engaged in debates and arguments with trolls so that that precious public space doesn’t get taken over by bullies and perverts.”

Right now Swara would rather focus on the splendid success of “Veera Di Wedding”.

Also read: Veere di wedding composer inspired by Rhea Kapoor

“The box office numbers do not surprise me. I had a gut feeling that the film would work at the box office. But the opening-day figure surprised me. I had thought we’d do a 6-cr opening on a good day. I think we have cracked the glass ceiling and myth that women-centric films cannot get big openings,” she said. (IANS)