MAM

Tanishq: Should brands buckle to trolls & boycotts?

Did it take the right step by withdrawing the ad?

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2020/10/14/tanishq_800.jpg?itok=XI1t0Fld

NEW DELHI: Last week, #BabaKaDhaba went viral and showed the positive impact social media can have when used constructively. However, this week the internet was once again caught in a digital storm, divided on an ad posted by Titan Group’s Tanishq. The popular jewellery brand recently launched a new ad titled Ekatvamto celebrate “unity in oneness.” 

The 45-second Tanishqspot, released ahead of the festive season, showed a baby shower being thrown by a Muslim family for their daughter-in-law, who is a Hindu. In the video, the young woman, realising that the ceremony has been organised conforming with Hindu traditions, anxiously asks her mother-in-law: "Par yeh rasam toh aapke ghar mein nahi hoti hai na? (But this ceremony is not observed at your place, is it not so?)," to which the latter replies, "Bitiya ko khush karne ki rasam toh har ghar mein hoti hai na? (The ceremony to make the daughter happy is held in every house, isit not so?)"

The description of the Tanishq commercial is as follows: “She is married into a family that loves her like their own child. Only for her, they go out of their way to celebrate an occasion that they usually don’t. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions, and cultures.” 

No sooner was the ad posted than it met with vicious trolling and expletives by a section of social media users who alleged that it promoted ‘love jihad’ and began trending the hashtag #BoycottTanishq.

However, another section of users on Twitter also supported India’s most trusted jewellery brand, lauding its effort to highlight that interfaith marriages can work and upholding the idea of a secular India.

Taken aback by the controversy, Tanishq pulled down the spot, tweeting, “One as a Nation. One as Humanity.’ That is what Ekatvam stands for,” to reiterate the message of communal harmony in the film.

Yesterday, it once again gave a lengthier explanation on Twitter why it took the extreme step: “The idea behind the Ekatvam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness. This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective. We are deeply saddened by this inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film, keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well-being of our employees, partners and store staff.”

Which once again got the trollers annoyed, who stated the boycott Tanishq campaign would continue as the brand had insinuated that the trollers would resort to strong arm tactics, showing “Hindus” in poor light.

Various brands in India have faced a similar situation where they had to buckle to the collective pressure on social media. But should brands bow down to these attacks? 

Brand expert N. Chandramouli says that brands that have attempted to take a brave moral stance should anticipate recoil from those on social media. "The portents are not good if a brand takes a step back, as it shows a lack of courage, conviction, and spine." 

He further says that a brand may do away with an ad under various circumstances, and not all of them are due to boycott calls. “Sometimes there are certain calls that may get made that pressurise the management. Sometimes, of course, the boycott calls are so vociferous, that the brand does so on its own. However, in both cases, the brand’s image gets tarnished due to the pull-back.”

Brand-nomics MD Viren Razdan has a different take on the issue, when he asks: "If the ad has been pulled down, did Tanishq not foresee any such issues? Or were they okay with the controversy it would kick up? If it’s the latter then it’s really a new brand direction for them.”

Nevertheless, this is not for the first time that a creative product has been brutally trolled for portraying Hindus and Muslims doing things out of the ordinary with each other. In 2019, just before the festival of Holi, Surf Excel had released an wherein a Hindu girl respects a young Muslim boy dressed all in white (going for his prayers) and prevents her friends from spraying him with coloured water. She then rides him to the mosque on her cycle, giving him a shield of protection all the way. Apparently, the film evoked a severe reaction on social media for promoting love jihad and for describing the colours of Holi as daag (stain). 

Around the same time, Brooke Bond too got called out on Twitter for “portraying Kumbh Mela in a bad light” and “hurting the sentiments of Hindu pilgrims.”

Even after producing brilliant creatives and thought-provoking ads, the question that arises in light of the Tanishq episode is: whether advertisers have any space for experimenting or going bold or touching grey areas while expressing oneselfcreatively?

Chandramouli says that owing to the current state of affairs in the country, social media has become highly polarised. Trolls who have seen their actions yield ‘results’ resort to the tactics of provocation and outrage to drive negative sentiment against whatever challenges their biased views. “It must be remembered that when a big brand pulls back, it further encourages the trolls, and sets an incorrect impediment for other brands attempting to venture to do something bold.”

Mirum India director of brand strategy and client services Mohit Ahuja also agrees that Tanishq’s fearful reaction has set a wrong precedent. "It not only bows to the pressure tactics of trolls who get braver by actions like these but also encourages similar action by other brands. It will make communication as a whole poorer. If advertising does not foster love and inclusivity, what will? Is communication like this not the main reason that most of us remain in advertising?"

Using religion and politics in advertising is a ticking time bomb, as it requires a nuanced understanding of how the people of India, beyond one's Facebook friends, think.

Scarecrow M&C Saatchi founder Raghu Bhatt opines that an ad is supposed to create goodwill and sales, not rancour and a product boycott.“If an ad is offending people, every brand will be sensible about it, apologise, and withdraw. The people who are criticising Tanishq for its action have nothing to lose. Unlike brand creators, brands can't have egos. Tanishq is sending a message that it doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings,” he asserts.

Rediffusion Y&R former president Dhunji S. Wadia wrote on his Facebook page: “Community before commerce has been the founding tenet of the Tata group (of which Titan and Tanishq are a part). If the life of even one employee is threatened then it's prudent to act in the individual's interest. Check out the threats to the marketing person on social media. Withdrawing the ad seems far gracious than putting your employee's life in danger. Keyboard warriors can keep bashing on. It won't tarnish the reputation of the group whose humane quality remains unmatched, #TanishqAd".

 Taproot Dentsu chief creative officer and co-founder Santosh Paddy declares that it’s high time that the industry stood together on issues such as these. “Why is our industry being targeted every single time? Creativity is the core of our business and we cannot be pushed in the corner every single time. We are the soft targets as brands are involved. It’s high time we give a hard push back, to theauthorities for this biased behaviour. It’s creative freedom for some and beating for some?”

indiantelevision.com has compiled a list of ads which have faced criticism in the recent past: -

Anouk Myntra

The ad with the tagline 'Bold is Beautiful' by Anouk fashion brand under Myntra was applauded as well as criticised for taking on the sensitive topic of homosexuality. The ad featured a lesbian couple preparing to break the news to one set of parents.

Kalyan Jewellers

In 2018, Kalyan Jewellers withdrew an ad featuring Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter after it came under attack for creating 'distrust' in the banking system. People threatened to sue the brand for accusing it of "casting aspersion and hurting the sentiments of millions of personnel" through the advertisement.

Amazon

The e-commerce company found itself in the midst of a controversy for allegedly selling products like slippers, doormats, and toilet seat covers with the pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. The pictures were widely circulated on social media and Amazon was roundly criticised for hurting the sentiments of Hindus. People expressed their displeasure on social media and raised calls to boycott the e-tailer.

Gillette

The brand launched a commercial asking men to be better versions of themselves, which sparked a debate about whether companies should simply stick to promoting their products or sell social causes.

Ola

Ride-hailing app, Ola rolled out an ad a few years back to promote the affordability proposition for its Micro service. The ad featured a young couple out shopping on the streets. The boyfriend, who is paying for his better half, eventually says: “My girlfriend costs Rs 525 per Km but Ola Micro costs just Rs 6 per km". The underlying message was that using an Ola Micro is cheaper than dating a woman. The campaign was attacked on social media for being sexist and was withdrawn by the company.

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/24/sa.jpg?itok=9SE3mIWe
Melorra enters Delhi market with three new experience stores

Lightweight fine jewellery brand Melorra has forayed into its largest market, Delhi/NCR with three new physical experience centres. Launched on the same day, Melorra’s brick-and-mortar outlets are located at Vegas Mall, Dwarka; DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj; and DLF Avenue, Saket.

MAM Media and Advertising People
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/24/manish.jpg?itok=a25l3sK9
Guest column: Why makeshift offices might be the future of work culture

The year-long lockdown pause brought by the pandemic is perhaps nature’s way of turning to a new page, a new format, and newer ways to move forward. A lot has changed and a lot more is changing.

MAM Media and Advertising People
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/24/hw.jpg?itok=6kqSrNgQ
Hindware reinforces brand strength with 'Thoughtful vs Beautiful' debate

Bathware brand Hindware has kickstarted 2021 with its new brand campaign ‘Thoughtful is Beautiful.’ The new campaign is first-of-its-kind in the category, and aims to showcase how innovative performance-led product solutions that offer convenience to consumers is where true beauty lies.

MAM Marketing MAM
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/23/img_23012021_164129_800_x_800_pixel.jpg?itok=mv3j53OE
Shopping & food sees max credit card spends in 2020: Cred report

The pandemic and its aftershocks have transformed every aspect of life, including attitudes, actions, and behaviours when it comes to money. By analysing credit card spending behaviour in 2020 of India’s most creditworthy people.

MAM Marketing MAM
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/23/img_23012021_181527_800_x_800_pixel.jpg?itok=A0GwKBHK
Mighty don Beardo arrives to inspire men to hone their sexiness

NEW DELHI: Men’s grooming brand Beardo launched its new digital campaign Arrival of Don Beardo featuring Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan. The 45-seconder film intimately highlights the characteristics of a true Beardo - impeccable style, confident personality, and killer looks. Each aspirational...

MAM Marketing MAM
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/23/img_23012021_174014_800_x_800_pixel.jpg?itok=EnLhLqFl
RIL Retail posts net profit of Rs 1830 crore in Q3 2020

New Delhi: Reliance Industry Limited’s (RIL) subsidiary Reliance Retail has posted net profit of Rs 1,830 crore. It grew by 88.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter. However, the revenue for the quarter ending on 31 December 2020 stood at Rs 37,845 crore. It fell by 7.9 per cent Q-o-Q. The revenue for Q2...

MAM Marketing MAM
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/23/img_23012021_161425_800_x_800_pixel.jpg?itok=cS1TD9Mw
Jio posts net profit of Rs 3,489 crore in Q3 2020

KOLKATA: Reliance Industry Limited’s (RIL) subsidiary Jio Platforms has posted net profit of Rs 3,489 crore. Its net profit grew 15.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter as its profit was Rs 3,020 crore in the last quarter. The average revenue per user (ARPU) also grew during the quarter reaching to Rs 151...

MAM Marketing MAM
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/23/img_23012021_123929_800_x_800_pixel.jpg?itok=T_SPzHNY
Glance's we new spot unlocks power of lock screen based content

Bangalore: Glance, a leading screen zero platform which provides digital content on the lock screens of smartphones, has launched its multi-media advertising campaign “Ye Glance Hai”. Crafted by DDB Mudra to communicate the exciting possibilities of content delivered on locked screen, the campaign...

MAM Marketing MAM
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2021/01/23/nba.jpg?itok=SNMYtfEl
Decathlon inks merchandising partnership with NBA

Decathlon and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have sealed a new multiyear merchandising partnership that makes the sporting goods retailer an official licensee of the NBA across India, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

MAM Marketing MAM

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required