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Dr. Shampa Nandi, Faculty, ISME.
Advertising is an art, a business, an institution, a promotion tool and a cultural phenomenon. It has a role to inform, to persuade or to remind customers about a product or service of a company.  It has a large influence in mass media market and plays a major role in shaping our lifestyles. Advertisements are developed keeping culture as a major consideration and always reflect the culture. Many-a times advertisements play a vital role in bringing social changes and also makes role models who can create social changes.

Most of us get annoyed once the ad break comes in between an interesting cricket match or interrupting our favourite daily soap. Not many of us enjoy watching advertisements. However, they are a great platform to provide the target audience a crisp and clear message. Indian advertisement has come a long way to reflect the social changes. Many of the Indian advertisements have made a distinguished appeal, delivered messages to break norms, and challenged the stereotypes. This article attempts to discuss some of those advertisements who deliberately sent messages to question the century old Indian conventional practices.

Breaking stereotypes
The first advertisement, which comes to our mind in this category, is the recent campaign ‘Mama’s boy” by Star Plus tv channel. As a part of “Nayi Soch” campaign, Star plus has launched an ad films where Dhoni, Kohli and Rahane showing their mothers’ name at the back of their jerseys. The theme of the ad was to challenge the age-old convention, ‘Baap ka naam roshan korega”. I am very sure that many of us are overwhelmed by this ad.

Ariel came up with a new ad campaign “Share the load” to promote its brand. It has defied the stereotype by promoting the idea “Why is laundry a mother’s job?” After watching his daughter is juggling in managing both work and home without the help of her husband, old father realised that he never shared the workloads of his wife. He wrote a beautiful letter to his daughter saying sorry for that and after reaching home, started sharing the laundry work with his wife. ‘Share the load”, the message given by Ariel was touchy, sensible and as well as powerful to challenge the gender stereotypes.  

Manyavar’s ad campaign by Virat kohli is another ad which has questioned the age old Indian tradition of bearing the expense of a marriage only by bride’s parents. “Saadi ki Kharcha hum adha adha baant lenge”, a “virat” message delivered by Virat Kohli is definitely able to create a ripple among viewers, especially Indian grooms’ parents. It is being great to observe, that Indian companies are promoting brands with such meaningful social messages. 

Vary recent  “Da Da Ding” ad spotted by Nike has focussed on the athletic spirit of women and stood out within the clutter of advertisements by giving a strong message to people who don’t give enough importance to female sports. Though Deeepika Padukone was in the campaign with another few female sportspersons, the ad did not sexualize women, rather encashing the solidarity among women and portrayed even a strong message on workouts. 

We are in 2017, time has changed and body shaming should be shut down. This is the message given by Joy cosmetics for its body lotion advertisement when the company has chosen Bharti Singh, “Queen of comedy” as the model. She is not a woman of perfect 36-24-36, but portrait a very beautiful message of looking beautiful is being beautiful by nature. People should take a note that world is not made for only perfect-sized people. The ad also reminded us that we are moving forward and it is time to break age old prejudices and perceptions.

A small company “Urbanclap-the service expert” made an ad on “Men’s day”, that emphasized on the equality of men and women. The ad told a story depicted by four strong women that have broken stereotypes in male dominated professionals. The message was very strong that women do not need men to perform some jobs but still they want to be with men as equal in relationship.

“Call me Ms Arpita Sen Anderson”, a message of not willing to follow the old age tradition of changing women’s surname
after marriage is delivered very nicely by the recent ad of “P C Chandra Jewellers- the wedding collection”. Time has changed to think in a different way.  So many recent advertisements have gone beyond the traditional practices and norms.

Countless progressive ads are coming with novel ideas and breaking grounds of conventions and traditions. Most of us still remember some year old ad on remarriage campaigned by Tanishq where a mother is taking “fera” along with her daughter of first marriage. These advertisements are not only able to promote their products and services but well regarded by consumers and managed to enhance their brand images. Question arises here –whether these advertisements were created with an intention of social changes or attracting customers by adding these types of controversial ideas. Research could be carried out to explore the effectiveness of these types of advertisements who attempted to break the conventions and stereotypes with incredibly strong social messages. However, undoubtedly we can say that they are worth watching. So think twice before zip zap your television while ads are coming!!!

·         Lipi Mehta, “10 Ads of 2016 that didn’t just sell a brand, but also a powerful message”, YKA, December 16, 2016
·         Suzana Joel, “5 Indian Advertisements that have defied stereotypes”, “Your Story” November 23, 2016
·          “6 Indian ads that broke gender stereotypes over the years”, The Economic Times, March 08, 2017

·         Tanisha Choudhury, “9 Indian ads that tried to break gender stereotypes”, Verves, January 20, 2017