Depiction of Women in Indian Television Commercials! Counter Argument!

23 October 2008 वेळ: Thursday, October 23, 2008

An article in today's Asian age has induced me into posting my view. I felt this article (Read it here) by Rai Umaraopati Ray holds true when we see it from one side. However the writer fails to explore the other side and justice is left unserved.
In a nut-shell the writers view- The author continuously talks about how Indian television Commercials are enforcing us to think and follow stereotypical ideologies that are complete passe for the new India incl. Particularly, the whole article stresses on the point of showcasing women in each and every Ad merely as an object for sex appeal. Women are portrayed in a way that they seem to have no life and love if they are not beautiful, gorgeous and fair. Women are showcased as nothing but playing second fiddle to men. An example cited by the author is that of the life insurance ads which show men undertaking life insurance so that their wife's, mothers, daughters are taken care of in case of their deaths. Which according to the author shows that women are incapable of earning for themselves and is indirectly exploiting the Indian women as a weaker sex.
With due respect to the above article here are some of my counter arguments:-
1] Jo Bikta hai woh Dikhta hai theory- Firstly, a lot of research goes in before deciding the appeal for an ad. A correct appeal needs to be chosen before the story board stage appears. This generally depends on consumer surveys where people are asked various open ended and close ended questions inclusing what kind of theme appeals them. The salient features of the product are then woven in a story-line on the lines of these popular themes. And yes most of the time sex and attraction win hands down. So we see a lot of products with no direct connection to sex or attraction exploring them as their central themes. Say for example, Must chips. Where the lady news reader does all kind of strange erotic lewd tactics to convince you that Must chips are really the chips for you. Clearly, you may feel what is the relation of chips and sex. But yes, their target audience is clearly the younger attraction driven crowd between the age of 18-35 years. And this appeals to them. Television is not a piece of cake, the Big Bosses know whats gonna sell and whats not. Everybody is here to ultimately sell the products and hence they have to cater to what people like to see. And that's exactly why jo bikta hai woh dikta hai!!!!!!
2] Pragmatic Approach- My second argument is in continuation with my first, ad makers are not here to make charity or do public service. They are here to sell their clients products and if this is what it takes to do the same then why not. An ad should not only be entertaining but it should be convincing enough to grab you out of your seat and make you go to the market and actually buy the product. All of us remember the famous award winning Fevi-Kwick ad where a fisherman looses to a localite who uses fevi kiwck to get fishes from the water. Now the concept is excellently executed but are you convinced that it is going to have the same impact on Viewer. Is it going to transition the viewer to a prospective buyer and then to an actual buyer. I really doubt the possibility. Now take the axe chocolate ad, my male readers I am sure you will agree that you are tempted by the fact that Girls love chocolate and putting chocolate deo is surely going to lure girls to come around you. Now the USP of axe is sex and attraction appeal. Hence they have tired to portray women going crazy behind men who use axe as that actually triggers a connection with the Consumer Male mind and prompts him into buying the product.
3] The ultimate decision-makers- Whether my male readers agree of not, most of the times the decision makers for them whether directly or indirectly are females. You go to buy a shirt you will think 10 times how you will look in it. That means you will give a thought to what my Girlfriend, my female colleague, my female boss etc will say about it and eventually how it will present me in front of the fairer sex. What does the Raymonds Ad show ? It shows the woman actually feeling your fabric and thinking you are a man of substance and style because you wear Raymonds right! The advertisers try to pick up your fantasies and put them in a 30, 60 or 80 seconds mini-film so you realise that a particular product will fulfill your fantasy. And this leds to you ending up buying it!
Another example is the infamous Amul Macho Ad, where the women in question is amused at Monkeys wearing these underwears and indulging into strange activities. Personally I feel this is the most vulgar ad I have come across in my 25 years of life and I don't understand why PETA has not taken any action? But returning back to our point of argument, Men buy underwear which will attract the female attention. Hence indirectly it is the choice of his female partner that prompts him to buy a certain brand. That is exactly why a women are always shown in almost all ads that involve Male undergarments. Most of the decision form FMCG products to expensive luxury segment of cars are taken by Women though the money for it might be provided by Men. But the ultimate-decision maker is the women and this goddess has to be appeased. Hence Most of the ads from pens to laptops have Women in them.
4] Sorry depiction of women- Women are no longer shown just house makers- or lalithaji's who have no work but to bear the brunt of their dominant working husband and wash his clothes clean white so that he can impress his boss. They are depicted as confident career minded women who have a determination to condense their dream to realities. The ad of an insurance brand where the working girl gifts her dad a car or for that matter the parachute ad which shows a series of women acheivers saying" Sirf khubsurat nahi Mai Majboot hoon. Hann Mai kuch hoon" is very appealing. Then the new Scooty pep ad which shows the young girl learning the Scooty on her own without the help of her brothers shows her as a very independent new age Indian girl.
There are many such examples. Hence, I don't completely agree with the writer of the above mentioned article as I think everything in the popular culture comes with a reason and with a rhyme! And we cannot have n archaic lop-sided view by ignoring the truth! I have just put my ideas on a larger canvass. I hope you will find something worth redeeming from it! Clearly Women are depicted as a lot more than just an eye candy!

1 Responses to Depiction of Women in Indian Television Commercials! Counter Argument!

  1. Aakash Says:

    Very convincing!
    And i totally agree with your thought!
    i appreciate the flow of thought, and the continuity between the subject and the theme.
    good going :)

AKS | Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS) | Designed by MB Web Design | XML Coded By | Distributed by Deluxe Templates