Early in September, I wrote a little about the images Indian brands put forth- on television, in print, on the web… Visuals that millions of people subconsciously soak in, visuals that are stronger than a lot of people realize. In my post, The visuals we put forth, I wrote about brands daring to break stereotypes and the difference they could make if they tried a little harder. Two days ago, jewelry brand Tanishq launched an ad that broke stereotypes so successfully, I have to applaud it.
Those of you who haven’t seen the ad can watch it here:
There’s been a lot of talk on social networks about the ad. People have broken it down bit my bit, critiquing the acting, the dialogue… but I’m not going to do that. Yes, I do think it was a little unnecessarily melodramatic, that they could have done without the last line, but I’m going to look past that- I’m going to look at the bigger picture, which to me, was that Tanishq dared to tell a new story. A real story.
Most jewelry ads focus on weddings. Big, splashy (North) Indian weddings- teary vidaiis, solemn faced parents, demure brides. Tanishq handed over the power to the woman. A woman who appears to have made a choice to remarry. A woman who has a young daughter, (we are meant to assume this is from a previous marriage, but I’m going to dare to say, maybe she hadn’t been married before at all?) A woman who is marrying an Indian man who cares for and indulges her daughter like his own. And a woman who has what most Indian women on screen do not have- supportive parents- smiling after her, doting on their granddaughter, visibly supportive of their daughters choices.
In a country where burning your daughter and her husband is believed to restore ‘honour’ to a family- honour that was robbed of the family by the misled girl believing she had the right to choose her life partner; in a country where a miserable, abusive marriage is more accepted than divorce, ads like this one, tell a brave new story. Ads like this one tell people there are different stories. And Indian society desperately needs diversity of narrative. We talk about inequality towards women, we talk about the Indian mindset needing to change- well, this is a tiny step towards that. Which is why I applaud Tanishq- for being brave about the stories half this country does not want to be told.
As a brand, Tanishq seems to be doing this well. Tanishq sells jewelry, so it’s only natural that they focus on women. But they’ve shifted focus from the men being the buyers, to women making their own choices. Their ads for Tanishq Mia, show young women in what a large part of Indian society still believes to be male territory- Women in positions of power- women driving, women working, women confidently playing these roles and taking pride in them. Not just women is sarees gushing over jewelry presented to them by their husbands or fathers. Sure, there are some of those as well, but that’s where I focus on diversity of narrative- Tanishq is the first brand I’ve noticed that has told both stories, equally well. Whether the brand, or the agency responsible for the ad (Lowe Lintas) was consciously trying to change perceptions, I don’t know. Good businesses, and good brands, will (and should) try to latch onto the change in social culture and capitalize on that. But either way, I think we need more advertising like this. Because the fact remains, that Indian society and culture is changing. The problem, is that with an audience so large and diverse, not too many brands want to talk about these changes.
You can take a look at a few of the ads for Tanishq Mia here: