The Tuesday ruling of the Supreme Court regards Section 66A of the IT Act, is a win on multiple levels for the country and its citizens. It upholds the key aspects of our constitution, of liberty and freedom of speech. It validates and re-emphasizes the absolute necessity of an independent judiciary in a democratic state. And then, it keeps safe the very premise of the internet, democratization of content creation and sharing.
It is much more a triumph for the individual citizen than for brands and marketers. But, it does open the door a little wider for content online, from brands.
As best practice, no brand will ever go down a path of marketing, which is counter to prevalent country laws and rules. But, there are brands out there which are braver than others and do want to address issues and areas with their content, which maybe controversial or risqué or even just slightly bold. It always comes down to the discretion of the consumer whether she wants to consume any part of this content that is shared.
For instance, we create a lot of content for a condom brand which has been in the social news a fair bit lately. This work does lead into areas which are not easily or openly discussed in Indian living rooms. As a brand, the brand absolutely needs to talk about safe sex but also about content areas like bedroom etiquette, technique and the morning after. The attempt is to be tasteful and honest at all times and not offend any group/s of consumers. But, the category itself lends itself to bold, risqué and tongue in cheek content. Therefore, for such brands, this ruling means they can pursue content integral to their brand essence with much more confidence and without having to look over their shoulder.
Having said that, by the very nature of the Internet being a medium that’s accessible to all, brands face a greater responsibility in what they create and share as content.
(The author is the CEO of VML)