Gender equality and diversity ruled the viral ad space in 2017

Advertisements in 2017 were dominated by some core global issues: gender equality, women’s rights and need for diversity

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Updated: Jan 2, 2018 8:58 AM

Advertisements are in many ways a reflection of society, its moments of glory, its insecurities and its greatest flaws. In 2017, the voice of women grew stronger while the discussion about the need for more diversity and inclusion in society gained momentum. This was reflected in the advertisements we saw throughout the year.

Advertisements in 2017 were dominated by global issues like gender equality, women’s rights and need for diversity. We saw campaigns driving attitudinal change and pushing the envelope further when it came to addressing sensitive issues: be that gender equality, social discrimination or LGBTQ rights.

We cheered for Gauri Sawant, a transgender woman (Vicks Touch of Care Campaign,) for braving all odds to be mother to an orphaned child, we too said #NoConditionsApply (Times of India Campaign) when it comes to playing the traditional Sindoor Khela festival during Durga Puja. We made a mental note to change how we bring up our sons when a progressive mother gives her son the unusual advice to move into a separate home with his wife in an ad for AXIS Bank Home Loans.

Here is a look at some ads that made a point, gently yet firmly.

Vicks - Touch of Care

Conceptualised by Publicis Singapore and Vicks, this ad showed us that motherhood has no gender and challenged the perception of a traditional family structure. The ad beautifully portrayed the real story of Gauri Sawant and rightfully went viral on social media networks. The film captures how Gauri cares for her orphaned daughter Gayatri in the face of the challenges and restrictions that society imposes on the transgender community. The ad has clocked 9,686,061 views so far on YouTube.


FCB’s brand campaign for Times of India was another such film that challenged social constructs and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, sex workers, widows and divorcees. This campaign sought to drive home a point about inclusion and diversity. A woman’s is defined by the tags that society imposes on her. The campaign used the context of the Durga Puja ritual of Sindoor Khela which is primarily a celebration by married women to raise awareness about diversity.

Reebok - Girls Can Fight

Reebok’s #FitToFight campaign returned this year to fight two looming gender demons of eve-teasing and inequality in pay. The film begins with Justine Rae Mellocastro, a black belt in Choi Kwang do, professional hairstylist and a competitive swimmer in real life, being eve-teased. Kangana Ranaut encourages her to stay strong and motivates her to continue fighting the odds. The film was a call to all women to be fearless in the face of adversity and break the stereotype that women don’t fight.

AXIS Bank - Home Loan

In a product category where the focus is almost always on benefits, numbers and percentages, AXIS Bank delivered a refreshing ad for its Home Loans product. the film, created by Lowe Lintas and directed by Gauri Shinde put the woman in the centre of the campaign as key influencer and the decision maker. Through this campaign Lowe Lintas has portrayed an Indian Mother as the ‘change-maker,’ by putting her in the ‘driver’s seat’ literally.

The mother in this ad makes an unusual suggestion to her son. She advises her soon-to-be-married son, to move into a home of his own contrary to the traditional idea that a newly-wed wife must move in with in-laws.

Titan Raga - Mom by Choice

Titan Raga addressed the stereotype about mothers that classifies career oriented women as ‘bad mothers.’ This stereotype has curbed the ambition of women for generations in India. This time the brand’s progressive messaging brought the debate about what is a ‘good mother’ into the average Indian household.

In the ad, a young mother-to-be, speaks about the kind of mother she aspires to be. She says she will not be a traditional mother who will stick to the traits that fit the society’s definition of a ‘good mother.’ She appreciates her own mother for being unconventional, a woman who pursued her educational and professional aspirations even after becoming a mother. It is that aspect about her mother that’s inspiring, the daughter says. The drives home the point that choosing to be a mother does not have to be a sacrifice.

The ad was conceptualised by Ogilvy and Mather and directed by Vinil Mathew of Breathless films.

Here is hoping for an equally or more diverse, inclusive and equal 2018.

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