The above commercial for Tanishq jewelry seems fairly innocuous at first glance: A glowing bride prepares for her wedding while her excited daughter looks on. During the ceremony, the groom picks up the little girl (his soon-to-be-stepdaughter) and spins her around in a joyous celebration of their new family. You drown in your own feelings, then buy ALL THE NECKLACES. Advertising accomplished!
But in India, where the ad is airing, it's reportedly causing a stir.
In a nation where widowed and divorced women have historically been treated as outcasts, the theme of the spot—a woman's second marriage, to a man who treats both her and her daughter with love and respect—is not only revolutionary. It is crazy bold.
Adding more fuel to the fire, agency Lowe Lintas chose a lovely model whose skin tone is apparently "duskier" than that of most advertising brides. So, not only can you find happiness in your second marriage, you can find happiness regardless of your skin tone (the makeup people aren't going to like that!). Arun Iyer, national creative director at Lowe Lintas, explained to Livemint that that the casting was everything in this ad, saying "it had to look like a marriage of equals, not something that was done out of pity." From that, I learned that the social status of a widow is such that people seeing the ad might automatically think someone was marrying her out of pity.
I love this so much. The idea that advertising is somehow exempt from social responsibility—that it's okay to prop up a harmful system just because it "sells"—is a self-perpetuating cop-out. If no one's willing to take at least incremental risks, change is impossible. So it's incredibly heartening to see ad agencies and their clients striving to challenge the status quo instead of perpetuating it. And as this commercial and this year's teeeeeeerrifying envelope-pushing Cheerios ad both demonstrate, sometimes, challenging people's assumptions can really pay off. I mean, this is almost certainly the only Indian wedding jewelry commercial I'm going to be posting about this year. Just a thought.