I am sure you remember those deodorant advertisements where when a man sprays that deo, women start falling from the skies attracted to that fragrance.
Or the ads for washing powders or washing machines that highlight the fact that washing clothes is a woman’s job – “Humne bhi ki mummy jaisi safai.”
Especially those where you see women eating chocolates or mangoes like they are experiencing an orgasm.
How can we forget these? Because they made no sense at all, nowhere realistic and reduced the position of women to being objects of pleasure or simply reduced to being a substitute for house appliances.
For a long time, advertisements have been accused of indulging in blatant sexism, objectification and stereotyping to get their point across. They really make me cringe.
However gradually, with the wave of feminism and women empowerment spreading, advertisers tried their hands at tapping this market in an attempt to seem progressive. While some horribly backfired, some managed to smash stereotypes and patriarchy in the face and provoke a thought among the masses.
Here is a list of such advertisements :-
1) ARIEL SHARE THE LOAD
The ad highlights the traditional gender roles that our society has created and we follow them without any question. Taking care of and feeding the family always falls into a woman’s hands, even when she is a working woman. The ad breaks free from the convention and provokes a thought about distribution of the work between the man and the woman.
2) TANISHQ WEDDING AD
Tanishq often comes up with ads that break the stereotype. Here, not one, but many stereotypes have been broken. Firstly, the woman has a dark complexion, a rarity among ads flooded with fairness products. The woman about to get married has a daughter out of a wedlock. Moreover, her daughter is shown as a 5-6 year old which highlights that she is not getting married immediately after her baby is born, just because the child would need a father. Clearly, she had been a single mother before this. Moreover, the man she marries is totally out of love as he is the one who understands, accepts and wholeheartedly loves her and her daughter.
3) ANOUK- BOLD IS BEAUTIFUL – THE CALLING
This ad brought in a concept that wasn’t talked about much. Radhika Apte beautifully portrays a pregnant woman who shows her disappointment because of not being handed over a project just because she is pregnant. The perception that the society has of a woman being incompetitive because she is carrying a baby and therefore vulnerable, suffers a serious blow with this powerful portrayal. Ultimately, the woman quits her job and goes on to start her own business.
4) ANOUK – THE VISIT
This ad is seriously the most progressive out of the lot because for the first time it portrays a lesbian relationship. It sets the tone right in the beginning where a girl is waiting for her parents to come and is having a conversation with her partner about finally opening up about this to her parents. A treat to watch!
5) TITAN RAGA – BREAK THE BIAS
This is a very clever and subtle commentary on the way people look at a woman’s success. A working woman is concept that has been digested with a lot of difficulty by the society, but there still prevails some reluctance. But there is always a certain sneer expression people give when they look at a successful woman and begin making assumptions about all the ‘favours’ (mostly sexual) she might have done to get to that position. This ad has a surprising climax which hits hard!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.