MUMBAI: There are brands and then there are brands. The difference between the two is that while some try to be safe and use the same-old formula to reach out to their target audience, others break free to connect with their TG through the issues that matter to them.
The Supreme Court has turned back the clock on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that was earlier decriminalised by the Delhi High Court in 2009. As per the recent verdict, the 1861 law that criminalises any kind of sexual activity “against the order of nature” - including homosexual acts. While thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists and supporters came out on the streets and took to social media platforms to avenge and retaliate against the 'regressive' verdict, they surprisingly found unexpected support from few brands.
Amul, for instance, has been the pioneer in putting the (ugly) truth out in the open with its cheeky remarks on topical issues. This time again, it has again taken a stand. In its recently released ad, the Amul mascot – the girl in polka-dotted dress offers condolences as she stands beside a tombstone with “Freedom of choice” inscribed on it.
However, what is interesting to note is that it isn’t just Amul that is making itself heard as a brand. Other brands are shedding their inhibitions as well. The youth fashion brand, Fastrack which takes pride in being the in-your-face youth brand shared a picture on the social media platforms supporting the LGBT community. It read: “The road to equality has never been straight”. Even earlier, the brand had launched a ‘Come out of the closet’ campaign challenging the taboos and asking people to let go of societal norms because the brand is moving on with time.
But what has surprised everyone the most is the coming of age stance of Tanishq that is largely known to be a brand following tradition. The jewellery brand from the house of Tata took the plunge with the latest advertisement on a social media site which read: “Two of a kind always makes a beautiful pair!” making an unexpected sassy remark on the issue. In a very subtle tone, the brand has made it clear what it stands for.
Gradually, it is trying to break away from the other traditional counterparts. In October, Tanishq had launched a campaign for its latest wedding collection where a dusky woman was seen remarrying. With the film, the brand aimed to target young women who are looking for differentiated designs and not the old, traditional ones.
Allen Solly too flaunted the ‘colours’ on the networking site.
Even internationally, the brands have come out to support the cause with some times being appreciated for their initiatives and many times condemned as well. When United Colors of Benetton launched its ‘Unhate’ campaign featuring images of world leaders in passionate lip-locks with some of their biggest rivals last year, the campaign didn’t do much for world peace but it won an award at Cannes.
Similarly, Kenneth Cole showcased an ad with two handbags and a headline that read: “We’re pro-choice, after all, she’s the one carrying it.” It was a tongue-in-cheek comment on the debate on abortion in the US.
Eyewear style brand Ray-Ban was also praised for its advertisement in 2012 that was gay-inclusive. Released as part of its “Never Hide” campaign as part of the company’s 75th anniversary, the ad featured two sharply-dressed gay men out for a romantic stroll on a busy sidewalk.
The popular coffee brand, Starbucks, which entered the Indian markets, has also taken a pro-LGBT stand. In an interview a US journalist, the coffee chain’s CEO Howard Schultz had revealed that he has once told an anti-gay marriage activist to sell his shares in the company if he disagreed with the company’s position on the issue. His rationale was that it was an important issue to Starbucks’ 200,000 employees, so at the end it was worth any lost sales. “Some things aren’t economic decisions,” he had said that time.