Are advertisements really about breaking stereotypes?
“In advertising, not to be different is virtually suicidal.”
Marketers and advertisers rack their brains constantly trying to be different. Advertisers have also had to adapt to the changing mentalities of the times. They are well aware of the increasing investigation into stereotypes and their implications. Everyone seems to be going to great lengths to strike a chord with the audience. The focus is not on the consumers they have but to woo the ones they want.
Attacking stereotypes- Radically and slightly
Every advertiser claims to be breaking stereotypes with their product advertising. Learning from the Airtel ad debacle, marketers and advertisers are making efforts to seem genuine in their commitment to break patriarchal stereotypes. However making a product appeal to a liberal well educated millennial generation is not an easy task. Only a few ads have had their product seamlessly blended in with the necessary message.
Axe-Find your magic
Tired of all the deodorant ads that feature hyper-masculine men? Axe tries to boost the morale of all Tom, Dick and Harry with Find Your Magic. In fact, the ad seems to be taking a jibe at its own promotion of the idea of masculinity and turning the concept on its head. What makes the ad a genuine attempt at debunking myths is its minimal focus on the product itself.
It is the first time, eBay has launched a TVC with an aplomb (eBay has been operational in Indian market from last 3 years). Attacking notions of gender, religion, and heteronormativity, the E-bay campaign went gun blazing with its 10 crore products. By focusing on diversity and inclusion, the ad made a number of radical goosebumps.
A housewife does not work, so does not need any rest. Or a woman with a double burden of work is merely doing her job. How many times have we had that statement reiterated to us? Maruti Suzuki is trying to change this notion. With their new Celerio TVC, the brand looks into the issue with the slice of life moments. #OneChange talks about giving wives and mothers a day off during Diwali, without the emotional cringe. Selling the comfort of the car, this ad does not fail to make a dent in the stereotypical notion, albeit with layers of subtlety.
Festivals on Fire
If festivals are here, can advertising be far behind? Loaded with familiar Diwali emotions, a number of ads have been released that probably makes you go ‘aawww’ or just fast forward to the deal involved.All hyped up about spreading cheer to everyone.
Because dirtying your clothes in muddy waters was not enough, Surf Excel has now come up with a version of dirty Diwali. The ad shows rich neighborhood kids dirtying (and destroying) the rangoli at home to make a washer man’s Diwali happier. It does one make wonder about the absence of chagrin on the part of the mothers. Also,why dirty the clothes which will be dumped on the same washer man the next day? The ad comes off as nothing more than a promotion of the detergent and runs the risk of brand dilution.
Most middle/ upper-class families employ a domestic help in our home who work tirelessly to make our lives convenient. Reliance Fresh has built up its ad around the relationship between an employer and her help. The attempt to address the class inequality in a domestic is applaudable. But the ad ultimately wraps up with too much of a utopian feel to it and ends up as a marketing strategy only.
Take a Chill pill, you Son of a Stereotype!
Surprised to see the name on the list? So were we. The Netflix ad basically trolls every other Diwali adverts and then asks to you to Netflix and Chill. The tongue in cheek approach makes the non-advertisement an enjoyable break from the overkill of Diwali ads while at the same time bringing out our inner couch potatoes.
While ads have made an attempt to be different, most of them end up centering on the formulaic communication of happiness. It does leave one wondering about the purpose of the advertisement and whether it is just about immediate sale conversions. The idea that most big brands apply is to promote the product without necessarily mentioning the product. This ends up being problematic as the purpose of the ad will not be fulfilled if the buyer is not attracted to buy the product. Yet adhering only to consumerist notion also poses the risk of the brand being insensitive to present issues. Ultimately for audiences, marketing and advertisement end up being like the Schrodinger’s cat (neither a truth nor a lie). All we can do is enjoy the ad and then reduce our bank balance if the brand is attractive enough.