Has today’s advertising kept pace with scores of Indian women emerging from the shadows to seek their rightful place in society? 4Ps B&M presents various views

Journalist Mahua Chatterjee fires the first salvo. She believes that despite all the blah-blah and ra-ra in the media, women like her were still an aberration, an exception. “However, our tribe is on the ascent and definitely a quantum leap from our mother’s generation. Advertising’s essential agenda is engaging, convincing and catering to its target group, which for most part, is still steeped in tradition. So, you get what you get. Sure, there are exceptions – like the insurance ad where the granny cosies up with her husband and later, gets blackmailed repeatedly by her chaalu grandson – which is wonderful, but alas, nowhere enough. We could do with a lot more courageous, adventurous, risk-free and exciting advertising that reflects today’s woman with both drama and chutzpah. Can the ad guys do it?”

Film-maker Aparna Sen – whose latest movie The Japanese Wife released to rave reviews – while talking to us, conveys her huge disappointment. While she salutes the crafting and slickness (of advertisements), she is convinced that most of these efforts are blatantly one-dimensional. “North Indian, fair, urban, advertising seems to be fixated on this stereotype! How and why is there practically no sign of the southern, eastern or north-eastern woman? Don’t they exist? If at all they feature, it’s either in caricature form or tokenism! Such a pity.” Kolkata-based media personality Rita Bhimani disagrees and reckons that change indeed is in the air. “Sure, there will always be stereotyping, catering and pandering to connect with the masses, but within categories – cosmetics, healthcare, bikes and automobiles – there has been a lot of quirky, funny and interesting ads portraying today’s woman with large quotients of fun, energy and enterprise.”

Masscom expert Tiyasha Ray begs to differ. “Most of the stuff that pans out is totally regressive and out-of-sync with the here and now! I guess it has to do with ‘Adville’ not mustering up the required guts and ability to effect a breakthrough and content to bogey along a familiar comfort zone as also women themselves being quite content to be seen in that light. Generations of conditioning have programmed them to think in a certain way. Today, they believe that perhaps, this is the way we need to be perceived and what’s all this feminist hoo-haa about?”

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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