Succès de scandale. This is has always been a great formula for many – from movie makers to personalities – to get in the limelight, quickly and easily, under the trivial shades of being bold and experimental.
Has this trend finally made a permanent stop in India?
In recent times, we have seen some excellent print ads and TV commercials in India that managed to hit all the feels among viewers. However, this is not to say there haven’t been many insensible, absurd and false promotional efforts plaguing our web and television screens. In fact, in recent times, there have been a number of controversial advertisements that stirred quite a buzz on social media platforms with their outlandish visuals and storytelling.
Were the controversies by accident or pre-planned—many are left wondering now.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity
As cliched as the saying is, many in Indian advertisement industry have taken it literally. Yes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Even the big brands, that already enjoy decent following and goodwill in respective industries, are championing this cause with ease and swiftness.
Ola’s gender biased ad says, “Meri girlfriend chalti hai Rs. 525 per km, but Ola Micro chalti hai sirf Rs. 6 per km”, which loosely translates ‘it costs me Rs 525 per km when my girlfriend walks but Ola Micro runs at just Rs 6 per km’.
Jack and Jones displayed their sexist banner oh-so-proudly featuring Ranveer Singh towing his office colleague in an objectionable manner with tagline reading “Don’t hold back, take your work home”.
FewiKwik ‘todo nahi jodo’ commercial depicting Wagah border came off as insulting to the Indian soldiers. Deepika Padukone’s Vogue ad titled ‘My Choice’ received a lot of flak online for highlighting the issues such as rape and domestic violence shallowly.
Manforce condom’s advertisement featuring Sunny Leone sparked off massive controversy that left many, including politicians, claiming that it was “disgusting” and “promoting rape”.
These are only few ads that swirled outrage and debates, even getting coverage in mainstream media. Most of these brands pulled down their distasteful campaigns, others apologized. Needless to say, while whether did they manage to influx their sales remains unknown, they did stay the ‘talk of the town’ for long.
Is Indian society still too conservative?
In the mix of these controversies though, selected few of these controversial ads did receive support from some section. Many progressive individuals claimed that Indian society is too conservative for such bold and progressive campaigns. However, does being attenuate puts down the offensive subject of such ads, came as counter.
In any case, barring the progressive and conservative narration, few can deny, many marketers and brands are successfully leveraging the difference in emotional opinions of the consumers for their own benefits.
“India is changing, and bold ads are much more acceptable today than it was years ago. Audiences are okay with most of these contents. However, overturning this morality escape to make way for sexism and insensitivity is nowhere justified, whether you’re a conformist or forward-thinker,” said a market expert.