AdStand: Gender identity and Wedding in Ads

This is the season where brands create messages that are socially responsible. Star Plus after its “Son of Devki” campaign is back with “Gurdeep Singh and Daughters” featuring Aamir Khan and two daughters. Family business in India has always been about Sons, and the sons are always on the masthead, having a daughter on the masthead of business is a nice step. IndiaMart last year while celebrating father’s Day had a similar take, where there is “Bedi and Daughters” instead of “Bedi and Sons” Incidentally both commercials have Sikhs as fathers who give their daughters equal space. May be there is something about the entrepreneurial spirit of the Sikh’s that inspired both narratives.

This is fantastic to come from a brand that is primarily women centric and produces content that is women centric. While a lot of the content from the channel may not be true to the sentiment in the ad, it’s powerful enough to be noticed and debated.

Gender identity is rather new to advertising. Most brands traditionally have not gone beyond the stereotypical roles. Even when brands have broken the mold, they have balanced it with the traditional homemaker roles. Even the Star Plus ad, balances women’s ability to actively grow business under the patriarchal lordship their father. We can argue, that the story could have been told from the daughter’s perspective, but that wasn’t the case. There is a long way to go before brands take the traditional women centric brands and tell stories that are reflective of modern times and values.

There is an odd Fastrack or Tansihq, but most brands have not been brave enough.

While at gender identity and speaking with women consumers, fairness Cream as the category has borne the biggest brunt. The colour of skin has always been the tool to get ahead, be happy, successful or whatever else. Dark skin was always the curse. The new fairness cream commercials have tried to tone down the rhetoric, but they remain focused on ‘fair is better’.

The portrayal that needs to change in Indian advertising is wedding. From jewllery to automobiles, weddings in India have always been shown as grand and indulgent. Even on content when YRF did a web-series called Bang Baaja Bride, the weddings were large, lavish, grand and indulgent. Why is it that in popular culture, weddings have not been deglamorized?  The jewellery brands may not; weddings are the single biggest occasion for buying jewllery, but a host of other brands have not done so. Expensive cars sponsor wedding shows, one German Marquee brand even encourages parents to gift the car as part of dowry.

There are many brands which have wedding as central theme, and the portrayal of wedding has been stuck in time. Bollywood may have a reason to mount wedding films on grand scale, but commercially it may be time to look at austereness.

Gurdeep Singh and Daughters is a fine way to look at gender portrayal, not in the way it has been currently told, but exactly in the way it has not been told. About ambitions, about skills, about ability to further family name, and dare I say about weddings that are not grand, lavish and Bollywoodish.

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