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Changing role of women in advertising

With the world views divided on the latest BBC Nirbhaya documentary issue and the Women’s day just gone by we thought of talking about the changing face of women in Indian advertising. If we carefully look at the current portrayal of women then there are many interesting examples where brands not only empower women but have made their branding around creating a strong identity for them. For example: In the latest ad of Airtel film “Boss” the lady is shown as independent with complete professional attitude.  This is quite a big change from what was shown in the past. Even second marriage is shown in a very positive light by the jewellery brand Tanishq. Here re-marriage is set as the backdrop for its contemporary range of wedding jewellery. The new sea change is marked with the fact that more and more women are joining the work force and are independent enough to take their own decision. Earlier women of the 80s were portrayed just doing household chores or just adding glamour to ad. The role of women in India has seen the change over the years with more and more women joining the workforce and becoming independent decision makers which is quite a contrast to her role even in the society. From the sacrificing homemaker who would have done it all for the betterment of her family is now the guilt free happy mom doing multiple roles. Now, her forte includes more independence and decision making.

Even in the latest ad of Prestige where we have celebrity couple Abhishek and Aishwarya are shown enjoying cooking. The best portrayal of women has been by brand Havells which started the ‘Respect for women’ series.’  Also, the detergent ad of Nirma shows three women pushing a vehicle an ambulance stuck in a ditch. All these ads are creating a different space in the advertising space where a non-traditional role of women has gained a momentum. Most importantly, even society is welcoming the positive imagery of women where they are relating more to the real women of substance rather than just the glitter doll role. The latest Horlicks campaign titled ‘Love you ma’ shows mothers in traditional avatars but being a source of constant support to their independent daughters in various professions like police officer, sports star etc and a little daughter holding hands of her mother in supporting her in return. It is a beautifully shot film which shows the new era woman in altogether a different light.

The same Indian woman who was once upon a time shown as submissive housewife is now shown as confident, independent and makes her own choice. No longer will you see the stereotypical roles of women in the ads. Now a new momentum has gained precedence in the last few years, which breaks the old imagery of women being in the backdrop or shown as an eye candy. While big brands are doing their bit, smaller brands are also creating milestones: Fiberfitness shows the most beautiful gift given by a son to his mother and father, of being healthy for life by joining health club. Here, again, the mother is given most importance. While women employees add up to 30% of work force in the software industry, there are instances where still few brands showcase women mostly as homemaker or just glamed up. But the percentage to which the role of women has changed over the recent years is quite an eye opener. Usually portrayal of women are in essentially in three categories –traditional, neutral and nontraditional. 

The traditional category comprises of the following roles: mother, daughter, homemaker and decorative.

The neutral category comprises of: others

While non-traditional comprises of: professional, girlfriend, women superior to men or to equal to men

Non-traditional roles are on the rise were you see the Indian women no longer a part of the kitchen, but have taken centre stage to be the protagonists of many leading brand stories.

Reference: Marketing white book 2015