Oct 24 2020
In the last few days, I am guessing almost everyone on social media has stumbled upon one of these.
And those who haven’t seen it for once, clearly live under a rock. No offense.
Here, let me tell you about this ad row, quickly.
On Monday (12 October) Twitteratis attacked a Tanishq ad over its alleged controversial content. This Indian jewelry brand powered by Tata had to withdraw the advertisement titled “Confluence” after facing a huge backlash on social media soon after. The ad showed a Hindu woman getting a baby shower from her Muslim mother-in-law and tried to promote communal harmony via the narrative. The ad, though irked a certain section of the society as the brand was blamed for promoting 'love jihad'. As a result, #BoycottTanishq started trending on Twitter and the brand succumbed to trolls and removed the ad from across platforms.
(Source: The Quint)
Later, news of ‘Tanishq employees receiving threat calls’ and ‘Tanishq retail stores being attacked’ surfaced on certain news channels. Though, according to some news sources, the latter piece of news was fake except for the ‘threat calls’.
Now, here’s my question: What Do You Think Went Wrong With The Ad By A Brand Which Is Known For Its Bold Campaigns In Advertising Fraternity?
Being from the advertising and marketing industry, I am totally surprised that peeps at Tanishq and its respective ad agency considered this particular script in the first place, approved it later, passed the production budget, and decided to release it in these turbulent times when ‘hatred’ erupts like a wildfire.
Where on one hand, definitely it was a bold step but I must add that ‘it was too bold to fit the odd timing and the current thinking wave of the social media users’.
I can’t deny that 20 years ago, that ad media and film/ television industry were much more progressive. And clearly, Indians were more accepting too with a liking for intelligent content.
Sadly, we all are living in an era where ‘hate’ sells like hotcakes. We have officially funded trolling agencies and following the popular saying, ‘blindly following the crowd’, social media is full of ill comments, fake news, disagreements, fights, and so on. Also, thanks to the algorithms, once you like a certain piece of content, you will be targeted with similar content/ ad pieces. Wow, sounds like a plan! Duh!
We need to understand that nowadays, social media users will say anything and everything just to be a part of the quintessential ‘trendy group’ of society. Even if they don’t know the basics of the ongoing issue. Content that is controversially bound to catch people’s fancy more than any informative piece because come on, ‘reading and understanding things’ isn’t as spicy and talkable as anything which erupts negative emotions. It’s disheartening to say that ‘hate is stronger than love’, the harsh truth of current times.
In the past, a lot of ads that tried to show communal harmony faced the same agitation.
Surf Excel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq7mN8oi8ds
According to Brut, even this ad featuring kids was accused of promoting ‘Love Jihad’, a term that has been categorically stated in the Parliament as a non-existent concept.
Now, many angry comments about the ad questioned, ‘why they can’t show the reverse? Like a Muslim girl in a Hindu in-law’s household’.
Here you go: https://youtu.be/mfCMKVQRGQg
Let me tell you, this ad from CloseUp got heavily trolled too and was pulled by the brand back in 2018.
So, what do we learn? “Trolling is endless, unpredictable and in most of the cases, deliberately induced to spark outrage to cater to some political agendas”.
There are agencies, anonymous social accounts with a massive following on digital media that are being paid to create such scenarios. We can’t name political Voldemorts in the country, but we all know they hire people to create such rows, hatred, controversy on the internet.
And their blind followers sans understanding a little bit of the situation, start supporting and commenting left, right and center. Everyone is an expert here.
So, what do we ad-makers do? Stop showing the unusual, the unexpected?
I would say, NO.
At least advertising is still a better medium to convey beautiful unbiased expressions and thoughts and messages than news media.
We as advertisers and marketers need to understand the need of the hour. Insights based on user behavior research are very important when you thought of a campaign concept. And then comes the strategy, both creative and marketing. We need to be subtle in our messaging in a way that, “Saanp bhi mar jaaye aur laathi bhi na toote”.
This is the reason, why I love Google campaigns.
Remember, the Google Reunion ad portraying – ‘Partitions divide countries, friendships find a way’- in the best way possible.
Watch it here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHGDN9-oFJE
Even, very recently, Google Nest Mini has launched a campaign where they are showing a Christian family learning about Rani Laxmibai only to help their little daughter enact an online play.
Watch it here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTIWHfIQ89E
So, what do we learn, again? “You can design a narrative and write a script reeving truthful emotions, expressions, and facts without the fear of receiving a backlash if you know how to craft it subtly and intelligently”. Also, you need to know the game of ‘how social media works’!
Here are some of my personal recommendations which I think should be in place in case you want to go ‘Bold’ with your campaign.
I would like to leave you with this excellent illustration which clearly supports my last recommendation. See sometimes, you don’t even need words to convey your thoughts.
Agam Chaudhary, CMO, Digitalabs (A division of Laqshya media group)
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