Controversy over Tanishq ad: A case of nuance getting lost amidst rancor?

Industry observers weigh in on the spot that shows a Hindu woman married into a Muslim family all set for her baby shower

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Oct 13, 2020 9:51 AM



You know these aren't ordinary times when even a brand known for its advertising is at the receiving end of public ire. A spot by Tata Group's jewellery brand Tanishq has been facing flak, owing to its narrative around interfaith marriage. The video, shared across social media platforms, shows a Hindu woman married into a Muslim family all set for her baby shower. Her in-laws decide to replicate all the traditions as per the Hindu customs. However, the advertisement didn’t resonate well with a section of netizens, many touting it as ‘love jihad’. In a world where nuance gets lost amidst the rancor, we ask industry observers what they think about it.

The ad might have been in the eye of storm, but industry observers are all praises for it.

Brand strategist Ambi M G Parameswaran asserts that he loves the piece of work for its boldness and ability to visualize a better society.

“Brands sometimes reflect reality. But the bolder brands are able to visualise a better world. I had called this “neo-visualization” in my book #NawabsNudesNoodles. There may not be too many Muslim families that indulge their Hindu DIL with a “godh bharai” celebration. I don’t see any harm in that. I admire brands that are able to visualise a better society. Tanishq has done many such ads. So have Brooke Bond and Tata Tea. May their tribe grow,” he says.

Soon after the release of the ad, calls to boycott Tanishq went viral on Twitter, making it one of the top trends with many asking for a ban on the controversial advertisement. 

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, too lauds the ad. He notes that it is a bold ad and the possible backlashes to it naturally would have been well considered even when it was being conceptualized. “The Tanishq Ekatvam advertisement celebrates diversity, secularism, cultures, integration and oneness. The #boycottTanishq is inane as is this ad's comparison to Love Jihad. The comparison the trolls are making, to say the least, the pettiness of a few perverse minds, and is unlikely to impact the brand in any negative way. To extend the thought, I doubt if any of these trolls are even Tanishq customers,” he says. Chandramouli opines that such an open acknowledgement of such a strong secular concept demonstrates the strength of Tanishq’s values.
“The Tata Group has been known to take a strong stand on social issues, and in the toxic environment of today, where a chasm is being attempted along religious lines by vested interests, we need more corporates to take a stand, and let brands make statements that count,” he contends.

The description on the ad by Tanishq says, “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, cultures.” The ad was released under the newly launched 'Ekatvam' collection by Tanishq ahead of the Diwali season.

Prathap Suthan, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer (CCO) of Bang In The Middle states that he feels anguished at the hateful response of some people who have given the Tanishq a very different communal colour. “Sometimes I feel that as a nation, we are spinning out of control, and going into a direction that threatens to rip and tear the beauty of our country. Love, the romantic kind, is something which one cannot keep within prescribed boxes. It happens all of a sudden, between two people regardless of their backgrounds and beliefs and even religions. No one can stop it. If it has to happen, it will find a way to bring couples together. I come from part of a society and a state where all sorts of combinations have happened. And they all live happily and contently. I don’t see this trend declining, nor do I see it ever being stopped by people at the fringe. Love is bigger than hate. And love shall always rise above this smallness of thinking."

"Ideally, the more educated you are and the more you travel, dividing lines will blur and the larger picture of one common humanity will become clearer. Conversely, the less educated and the less travelled you are, you will get sucked down into a vortex of darkness where less evolved thinking dwells. Imagine if our offices, colleges, institutions, industry, organisations, and even fields like medicine etc begin to spin down this vortex. Where love in its other variants like patriotism, pride, nationalism, humanity, benevolence, service, work, art, etc. and so many other areas get questioned and hemmed in by limited minds, then it’s unbelievable what can happen to the unity and our combined strength. This is the kind of myopic thinking that can weaken the sinews of our land. It should never be encouraged either by brands, or the government without question,” Suthan says.

From depicting a woman remarrying to showcasing hurdles faced by working women, Tanishq has been known for its ads that have been breaking stereotypes and there has been no looking back.

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