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Advertising fraternity comes out in support of Tanishq

ASCI, IAA, AAAI and The Ad Club have given a clean chit to the ad.

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NEW DELHI: The team at Tanishq couldn’t have foreseen, even in their wildest dreams, that a simple ad about two communities co-existing in peace and harmony would land them in such massive trouble. They have been dragged on social media, in the equity markets, probably on the ground too (if news reports are to be believed). It’s fair to say that the trolls, naysayers, and people with a different mindset forced them to pull down their creative. Overnight, what was meant to promote their brand ahead of the festive season instead became a hot-button issue, for all the wrong reasons.

What did it showcase: A young daughter-in-law all set for a baby shower. Only that she is a Hindu married into a Muslim household, and for the sake of her happiness, her new family is celebrating the occasion in accordance with her traditions.

The idea of a interfaith union is not an alien one in India; there are enough number of Hindu-Muslim couples across Bollywood, sports, business and what not. So, there was not even an iota of sentiment that hurt any religion. But naysayers felt the pinch, lashed out at the brand in a big way and pushed it on the backfoot.

However, the advertising industry came to the rescue of the much-maligned brand. ASCI, IAA, AAAI and The Ad Club issued separate statements, strongly condemning the trollers and extended their support to Tanishq, even going as far as to say that the jewellery maker could restart its campaign if they so wanted, as it did not contain any misleading or unethical content in the first place.

This is not the first time when an ad has been attacked or trolled but it is one of the rare occasions when the advertising associations quickly turned around and created a special committee to evaluate the ad and give it a green chit.

We spoke to several creative stalwarts and advertising agency bosses who in a unanimous tone censured trolls, supported the brand, and stood for the freedom of expression in the advertising business.

Dentsu CEO APAC and chairman - India Ashish Bhasin is pleased to see the industry coming together in support of the cause. “Everyone in advertising would want the freedom of expression of this fraternity to continue and not get endangered. I think it is a good example of the entire community coming together to support the cause since it is of common interest to all. In the marketplace, we may compete as different businesses and agencies. However, one good thing about the advertising fraternity is that when it comes to issues of common interest, we cooperate and collaborate in the truest sense and I have witnessed this many a time. I am pleased that the fraternity is coming together to take a stance on something that affects everyone. Right now, it is just one agency or one client, but tomorrow it can be other agencies and clients as well. So, it is important for the fraternity to state its point of view, which I think is well done this time,” says he.

Read more news on Tanishq

Spring Capital founder and creative partner Arun Iyer is someone who has worked with Tanishq in the past and understands it. He could not find a reason as to why people are upset about the film as there is nothing wrong with it. “It is a neat piece of work and the intent behind it is nice. The film simply shows that the two communities can live together peacefully. However, there is a faction that thought otherwise. It is unfortunate that people have to take sides (for or against) on this piece of work as there is no need for it. Also, if there was not this much of trolling, may be the ad also would not have garnered this level of attention. I believe people are becoming increasingly sensitive about matters involving Hindu-Muslim. The brand has a point of view and it should not be blown out of proportion,” believes Iyer.

The Social Street founding partner and CEO Mandeep Malhotra is happy that the industry associations are standing by Tanishq as these associations are like an extended family of the brands. “As a consumer, personally, I did not find anything offensive with the ad. However, we live in a country where people can be divided over extremely small issues. I personally feel it’s a good sign that the associations are showing solidarity with the brand in these low times. These brands have contributed very strongly to the community and it is one of those times when the family should be standing by you especially when you are right and have done nothing unethical. Also, I believe that the situation has already helped the brand achieve its objective of reaching out to people – in a good way or bad way, it remains to be seen,” Malhotra adds philosophically.

DDB Mudra West VP & head strategy Toru Jhaveri opines: “I don't think advertising should have great pretensions beyond persuasion. Ads are storytelling snippets that move products, and the best ones are beautifully crafted and move people, too. Whatever power advertising has as a cultural force, lies in its ability to represent and normalise reality – which is one crucial way of shaping it. After all, imagining begins with an image, with seeing – or hoping to see. The Tanishq film was honestly simply a nice, warm film until we could no longer see it. Which begs the question: what else can we expect to stop seeing, and then imagining?”

Tidal7 co-founder and chief creative officer KS Chakravarthy demands what the fuss is about anyway? “I think the very vocal opponents are missing the fundamental point – if an ad, any ad, offends people's sensibilities, the advertiser will pay the price in terms of brand image, goodwill, and ultimately, business. So if an ad is truly offensive to the vast majority of this country, it will be punishment enough by and of itself. If on the other hand it does not offend, and actually wins respect and affection, then what's the fuss about anyway?” asserts Chax.

Infectious Advertising co-founder and director Nisha Singhania is unhappy with the situation and sees the attack as completely unwarranted and uncalled for. “It’s a lovely ad which actually represents India and it’s secular values beautifully. Tanishq as a brand has always done path breaking work and I congratulate them once again for doing the same. It is very unfortunate that the ad had to be pulled off, I commend the entire team behind it. It is sad that we live in times where stories that inspire equality and promote brotherhood have become objectionable,” she says.

Havas Group India adds, “We have our Group CEO Rana Barua as both an industry representative and a Mancom member of all 3 institutions - IAA, AAAI and The Ad Club part of all the decisions taken by these industry bodies condemning the attack, which remains our stand."

Tanishq is a creative brand that has done some very topical promotions in the past that have broken through the clutter and sparked conversations. It will be interesting to see if the brand manages to bounce back and resume its campaign with all the support it has garnered from the industry.

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