The role of women has been changing over the years in various fields around the world like in advertising, marketing, finance, politics, acting, etc. Women have achieved a status in society as professionals in different walks of life. One aspect that every Indian takes note is that of ads. Much has been written about the depiction of women in advertising then and now. The comparison often lacks the best of these advertisements which depicted women as a face of change and those who challenged the stereotypical society.
The negative side of everything is often highlighted and the positives struggle to come into light. The stereotypical portrayal of women as submissive housewives has been overtaken by strong, independent individuals who live life at their choices. Off late, Indian advertisements have witnessed a significant transformation in the manner of women depiction. Here are some advertisements which will make one think twice about the change:
The groundbreaking ad #Likeagirl aims to give confidence to young women and fight female stereotypes. It asks young women to 'run like a girl', 'fight like a girl' and 'throw like a girl'. Then it asks young girls to do the same - with a different outcome. The ad asks: "When did 'doing something like a girl' become an insult?"
Dekh Le- for all the gawking men
The world becomes an uncomfortable place for a woman when gawking men surround her. This is the basic theme of this ad. The ad by Whistling Woods International which was directed by Ketan Rana brings the social concern of street harassment into focus. The ad displays four instances where men stare at women shamelessly. After a while, in each case the woman, knowingly or unknowingly flashes a mirror on their faces so that the men can see how they look when they stare at. Once this happens and the men come face to face with their actual self, they feel embarrassed and simply look away.
Tanishq Jewelers- The Double Knot
This heart touching advertisement shows a dusky skin mother getting married. As she is getting ready for her wedding, her daughter peeps into the dressing room. Later on during the ceremony, the daughter asks the mother to join in the “Pheras”. The ad, very subtly displays a message of the meaning of true love. It does not see colour or age. It is solely based on emotions. Being second marriage for the lady, the advertisement beautifully exhibits the possibility of happy endings and second chances. The social message of the skin colour being of no importance is aptly displayed. Also, in the Indian society, divorce is looked upon as a matter of shame. This ad counters and challenges the stereotypes associated with divorce and exhibits the benefits of ending an unproductive marriage to move towards a new, productive one.
Anouk 'Bold Is Beautiful' – “The calling”
Fashion brand Anouk took a strong stand against discrimination that pregnant women face at the workplace with this powerful ad. “Handicapped because I am pregnant,” says Radhika Apte, who plays the protagonist in the ad, as she looks her boss in the eye and makes a bold decision. This is probably one ad that needs to telecast more often.
Titan Raga 'Woman of Today'
This little short sees a woman bump into an old lover at the airport. As the conversation turns nostalgic, the guy claims that they could've worked out as a couple, if she'd only quit her job. Suffice to say, this doesn't go down too well with the woman, who makes it clear that she'll do whatever she damn well wants to. According to Titan, they celebrate the woman who is modern, progressive, confident and passionate.
This ad went viral after Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg called it: "one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen." It shows a father writing a letter to his daughter apologizing on behalf of every dad who has set the wrong example by never doing the housework. The ad finishes with the line: "Why is laundry only a mother's job?"
Lloyd – Unisex Washing Machine
“Show it to her, it's her department,” says a man to a salesperson showing him and his wife washing machines. In this refreshing ad, Lloyd questions if doing the laundry is only a woman's responsibility. Then the wife asks the salesperson if they have a unisex washing machine. High time we start having more discussions about shared responsibilities in the household!
Forest Essentials – Warrior Princess
If you were sick of ads that show women sensually eating a mango or slowly relishing a chocolate, you should watch this one. This ad changes the way most mainstream media look at women as 'objects of beauty'. Forest Essentials has rolled out an ad film titled, 'the power of purity' that pays homage to women in power. The ad begins in the dead of night as a group of women pick out the purest flowers from the forest. As day breaks, they are seen heading back to a castle, where a warrior princess has just woken up. The maids then apply the products on princess while bathing her. The film cuts to a shot of the princess donning full battle gear riding a horse. She is anointed by the local priest and rides away into the morning.
JSW Steel – Will of Steel
As a rooster crows at the crack of dawn, wrestler Geeta Phogat steps out of her house. The accompanying voiceover details the 'dharm' or duties of an Indian woman: sweeping, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the household, as Geeta is shown running, doing pull-ups and push-ups and wrestling at a local akhada. In one clean sweep, this ad bashes patriarchy and sexism and stands against the rigid notions of 'being a man'.
FasTrack- “The Closet”
FasTrack has given an entirely new meaning to its tagline, “Move On”. This is another advertisement based on the theme of queer rights in which two girls come out of the closet after one another. The way they look at each other clearly suggests what might have happened in the closet. The ad suggests moving on from the old, stereotypical ideas to form a much more just and modern society. Also, the metaphor of coming out of the closet is absolutely incredible.
-Compiled by Pavani Kodati