The Coming Age of Advertisements in India

4 min read

Advertisements that made us sit back and think

Somewhere between countless advertisements portraying women as anorexic objects of fantasy, generalizing the definition of beauty, assuming women to be the sole in charge of household work and reducing them to dish washing machines and stereotyping, their comes one advertisement that has much more to say than that – An advertising campaign that wants society to think a bit further; further than the product.

Wikipedia defines an advertising campaign as a series of linked advertisements worked on upon a single theme or idea. It is common knowledge that unless these advertisements are social awareness campaigns that maybe funded by Government bodies, NGOs, or private bodies as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, TV advertisements are mostly funded by corporates. These advertisements are a simple reflection of consumers’ demands and priorities and cash in hugely on the stereotypes of society to promote a particular product or service. In other words, their idea is merely to sell and please their consumer base and society at large. Clearly, disturbing or agitating the sentiments of any section of their consumer base is never going to be their agenda. With crores of money riding on each campaign, most often creativity is lost. Usually, regressive stereotypes are projected and the age old templates of advertising are blindly followed. As you might have already noticed, there isn’t any difference in approach or advertising content between the advertisements that sells an ‘interchangeable and indistinguishable’ product (let’s say Maggi, Sunfeast Yippee or Top Ramen). The common place joke is that, today the contents of advertisements have become so redundant that multiple products viz. perfumes, pressure cookers, washing soaps and cookies are sold with very similar story line and characters.

Without further ado let’s look at some of the best advertisements in the last few years that have started a new wave in society, despite pressures to adhere to social norms, sell their products, make money, please shareholders, draw attention, build a sort of a buzz regarding the product and portray society in a light that pleases it the most.

One can never say, whether these advertisements are a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility or simply good-natured and courageous advertising. However, as long as an advertisement is not hypocritical, has its heart in the right place and makes a sensible point (even if it is against the mind set of society) its worthy of credit.

At the end of the day, despite criticism and hiccups from a certain section of society, an advertisement meets its agenda as long as people are talking about it. After all, its true when they say, any publicity is good publicity.

1. Tanishq: Widow Remarriage

Tanishq celebrated the launch of its new age collection by breaking new grounds; with the premise of remarriage as the backdrop of the storyline. The heartrending advertisement depicts a little girl on the occasion of her mother’s wedding. While the mother hushes up the girl’s signal to join the couple in the pheras, the father seeing her evident disappointment takes her in his arms and the three make their rounds around the sacred fire, portraying “A wedding to remember”. Through this advertisement Tanishq targeted the young women of today who are looking for unique outlook in design through a progressive and bold story.

The Coming of Age of Advertisements in India
Tanishq Ad

2. Brooke Bond Red Label Tea: Religious unity (The Hindu-Muslim Divide)

The tea brand put together “The Taste of Togetherness” campaign. While there has been a section of the society that found the advertisement a bit of an exaggeration, the others acknowledged the fact that such hostility does exists in certain sections of the people and in certain parts of the country. The advertisement conceived by Ogilvy & Mather intended to highlight the need for coexistence and harmony and also acknowledged that eventually there is more than just religion that bonds people. Despite mixed response, the ad has managed to put a smile on most of our faces.

Brooke Bond Red Label Tea: Religious unity Ad.
Brooke Bond Red Label Tea Ad

Prior to this, Tata Tea’s ‘Jaago Re’ was another praiseworthy advertising campaign that impressed people over the election landscape.

3. Google: Pakistan Friendship

The popular search engine released an emotional ‘Reunion’ ad campaign portraying two childhood friends who haven’t seen each other since the Partition in 1947. One of them, now a grandfather narrates his tales of friendship to his granddaughter. She uses the Search Engine to track her grandfather’s childhood friend in Pakistan and with the help of others grandson, arranges a reunion of the two separated friends. The beautifully shot ad that promotes peace between India and Pakistan manages to hit the nail on the head with its emotions in the right place.

Google: Pakistan Friendship
Google: Pakistan Friendship Ad


4. Titan Raga: Women Empowerment

Indeed, Women Empowerment is one of the most widely discussed topics in the past year. The Raga collection aired a one-of-its-kind advertisement, created and conceptualized by Ogilvy & Mather, about a women who isn’t afraid or guilty about her career choices. With this campaign, Titan Raga successfully captured the imagination of the confident woman who lives her life by her choices (#HerLifeHerChoices). The advertisement that is very contemporary in its outlook does not go over the top with its message. Rather the entire ad film has been kept subtle, yet powerful. The film sums up with the tagline “Khud se naya rishta”. 

The Coming of Age of Advertisements in India
Titan Raga: Women Empowerment Ad


The concept of the film fits into the mold of empowering its target audience (primarily women) like a dream!

5. Aerial : Share the load

Aerial addresses an age old tension point that is probably more relevant today that it ever was; not only pertaining to each household, but society in general. Today, it is common to see a household where both the man and the woman have a full time career. The ad for Procter and Gamble (under the hastag #ShareTheLoad) offers a viable solution to the conflict. It talks about the need to find a balance in the work load at home between the husband and the wife insisting that men on a daily basis share the load of laundry. Quite interesting, isn’t it!

The Coming of Age of Advertisements in India
Aerial : Share the load Ad

6. Raymond: Being there

The beautiful campaign designed and created by Famous Innovations Agency shot two advertisements for the “Complete Man” campaign. Indian Society is changing rapidly and the signs of social acceptance of this change can be seen in both these advertisements.

It is indeed a good sign that the ‘Career Woman’ is finally gaining acceptance today. The trend started with the Airtel Boss-wife ad, where the concept of the woman holding a higher position at the workplace was introduced to viewers for the first time. It is indeed surprising that though this is quite a reality today, majority of the country denies the concept of career woman. However, the ad did spark some controversy about whether it was challenging the stereotype (by showing the arrangement in a matter of fact manner) or merely reinforcing stereotypes.

The Coming of Age of Advertisements in India.
Raymond: Being there Ad

The Raymond’s advertisement shows a modern couple, where the husband agrees to stay home one morning to take care of the baby while his wife goes to work reassured. The refreshing ad was met with much appreciation.

Some of the other advertisements that has successfully been able to move us in the recent times due to its sheer novelty and courage were Disney Channel’s “Breakups are not all that bad”, Airtel’s ad on India-Pakistan friendship , Dove’s #ChooseBeautiful ad and Brooke bond Red label’s recent take on live-in relationships.

Clearly, these advertisements have become more than just creating a fantasy world for men and women. They have now strongly started highlighting social changes aimed at ending the social evils doing the rounds.

Advertising must become more responsible by focusing more on quality and content since advertising in India and around the world has always been a vehicle of social change and awareness due to its large audience base.

More power to such good meaningful and refreshing advertisements!


Mordor Intelligence

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