New Delhi: A phrase in Urdu, a same-sex couple and a mangalsutra without modesty – these were the buttons of nonconformity that have led to advertisements hoping to pack the tradition and the various nuances of this festive season with that added benefit taken away by a few. days apart.
That the ads, each with a different vibe of inclusiveness, were for a clothing collection FabIndia, Dabur India Fem bleach cream and designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee ‘s mangasutra, the biggest and therefore powerful brands in their own right, point to a dangerous trend towards intolerance, say company watchers and industry insiders.
According to adman Piyush Pandey, it is difficult for advertisers to continue their campaigns “unless the law and order situation protects the people.”
“Advertisers don’t want people to be hurt, so they are removing the ad not because it was wrong but because it was a threat to their people,” Pandey told PTI. The government and the judiciary, he added, must “be aware of this”.
As the polarizing debate gained momentum, Abhijit Prasad, an advertising professional, said his industry “tries to show a world you want to live in,” a world that corrects inequalities. But it didn’t have to be.
And so it was that Sabyasachi, a favorite of the swish ensemble, on Sunday canceled her announcement featuring her mangalsutra, the gold and black pearl chain traditionally worn by married Hindu women, the design varying by region.
The designer sought to give the choker, seen as a symbol of a woman’s marital fidelity and also patriarchy, a twist by running ads showing couples from the LGBTQ community and women with deep cleavage in positions privacy shamelessly looking into the camera.
The series prompted Madhya Pradesh Home Secretary Narottam Mishra to issue the designer with a 24-hour final to remove the ads or deal with the aftermath. On Monday, he added that there will be direct action without warning if the designer repeats something similar.
Withdrawing his announcement, the deeply saddened Sabyasachi said in a statement: “In the context of making heritage and culture a dynamic conversation, the Mangalsutra campaign aimed to speak about inclusiveness and empowerment. The campaign was intended as a celebration and we are deeply saddened that it instead offended part of our society. “
The previous week, Dabur India withdrew its advertisement for Fem Bleach. In a curious amalgamation of ritual, patriarchy and pushing the boundaries of society for a product that many women find problematic, it showed a lesbian couple celebrating Karwa Chauth, a Hindu festival where women fast for the long life of their loved ones. husbands.
The ad, which attempted to be unconventional within a deeply conventional structure, was immediately criticized by social media. The Madhya Pradesh minister was back in the spotlight, saying he had ordered the state police chief to let Dabur know that the “objectionable” advertising should be removed.
The company initially tried to defend the ad, saying the brand strives for “diversity, inclusion and equality,” but then complied.
And shortly before that, FabIndia’s Jashn-e-Riwaaz collection drew anger because it used an Urdu phrase that means celebration of traditions and also led to a debate about why women didn’t wear no bindis, once a Hindu symbol of marriage and now a fashion accessory for women, whether married or not.
The brand has been accused of “degrading” the Hindu festival of Diwali. He was also heavily trolled for what some said was an unnecessary elevation of secularism and Muslim ideologies at a Hindu festival.
BJP President Yuva Morcha, Tejasvi Surya, called the ad “Abrahamising Hindu festivals” and tweeted that brands like FabIndia “face economic costs for such deliberate misadventures.”
FabIndia released a clarification stating that “Jashn-E-Riwaaz” was not their Diwali clothing collection, which was the “Jhil Mil se Diwali” collection that had yet to be launched.
Pandey said the ads shouldn’t have been canceled. Aggrieved parties, he added, have the option of applying to the Publicity Standards Council or the courts.
Referring to the angry debate and backlash on social media platforms, he said, “I don’t take social media seriously. It should be scanned by the Advertising Standard Council or the courts. So, groups of people lobbying and taking the law into their hands is a very dangerous trend in society. “
“Anger can come from groups of motivated people. It’s not about a community or a group… no one is allowed to take the law into their hands, ”Pandey said.
Others also expressed their view, saying that brands forced to withdraw their ads in the face of threats show that there is little tolerance for even the slightest deviation from existing standards and practices. In some cases there has been a setback and in others none.
“Looks like this country does not have a judicial / police or state system since the henchmen issue diktats accompanied by threats IS NO LONGER SAILING. Democracy-indeed !!! ” wrote filmmaker Onir, scoring a topical article on struggling ads in the country.
Prasad added that advertisers have to follow a “very fine line” and maybe Sabyasachi shouldn’t have pulled the ad.
“But it’s good for security. The situation is bad, we all know that. This is not the safest time to comment on Hinduism, ”he added.
Criticizing the controversy over FabIndia’s advertising, lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar wrote, “I didn’t understand why some people have a problem with FabIndia’s Jashn-e-Riwaj. Which in English means nothing more than “a celebration of tradition”. How and why anyone can have a problem with this. It’s crazy (sic).
From the perspective of brand strategist Siddhant Lahiri, what is targeted is thinking outside of convention. There is a global societal trend on a global scale where “we are becoming more and more intolerant of points of view different from our own,” said the Singapore-based professional.
“Whether it’s Nike or FabIndia, social media has allowed the masses to voice their discontent in a very loud way. And that’s good, of course it’s only through speech that we progress. However, when speech becomes prohibitive, there is a problem. It’s good to say that I disapprove of something. It’s a little dangerous to say that you can’t do something because I disapprove of it, ”Lahiri told PTI.
A few days before the series FabIndia, Dabur, Sabyasaachi, an advertisement for the clothing brand Manyavar featuring Alia Bhatt as a bride questioning the ritual of kanyadaan, the gift of the bride by the father at a traditional Hindu wedding, was under attack. And last year, jewelry brand Tanishq faced backlash for showing an interfaith family.
Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud commented last week on the gap between laws aimed at eliminating social inequalities and the reality on the ground while giving the example of Dabur advertising.
“There are real-life situations which show that there is a great divergence between the ideals of the law and the real state of society today,” Justice Chandrachud said at an event on the topic. legal awareness of women.
“It was barely two days ago, you all know, that announcement that a company was forced to withdraw. It was an advertisement for Karwa Chauth from a same-sex couple. It had to be withdrawn due to public intolerance! he remarked.
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