Received more love on social media than hate, says WYP - agency behind the Tanishq ad

In one of their first interviews after the Tanishq ad kicked up a storm, Amit Akali and Tejas Mehta of What’s Your Problem, share their thoughts on advertising in the age of trolls 

e4m by Neeta Nair
Published: Oct 20, 2020 9:00 AM  | 6 min read

The Tanishq commercial woven around an interfaith marriage is the most talked about ad in not just the advertising circles but the entire country today. It is perhaps one of those rare ads that has elicited a response even from the Home Minister of the country who sent a strong message against ‘over-activism’.

The ad has got its fair share of love from prominent personalities like Shashi Tharoor, Atul Khatri and Veer Das, and was attacked by actors like Kangana Ranaut who went as far as to call the makers ‘creative terrorists’. In an interview with Amit Akali, Founder and CCO, What’s Your Problem and Tejas Mehta, COO, What’s Your Problem, we find out how the creative agency behind the ad has been dealing with all the attention, what they really feel about their labour of love—the second ad in the Ekatvam series—being withdrawn by Tanishq and whether admen need to be afraid of trolls on social media.


The Tanishq ad took the nation by storm, but there was very little mention about the agency behind the campaign. Was there a deliberate effort to stay away from the controversy initially on WYP’s part?

Amit Akali: No, there was absolutely no conscious effort to stay away from it at all. We are so very proud of this campaign. Very rarely do you see people around the world stand up and show so much love for a film. In fact this is the second film in the campaign and we’d already shared the first film – the teacher reunion one, which had been highly appreciated. As early as Tuesday night, we put out posts on our social media handles, proudly sharing our thoughts on the film, explaining the concept of Ekatvam. And since then we have proudly been accepting all the love shown to us, be it through organic celebrity tweets, content created by creators, or all the supporting phone calls from around the world.

Did the team at any point feel threatened when employees of Tanishq were being earmarked and targeted on social media for being associated with the brand and the ad?

Tejas Mehta: Like Amit said, we put out posts as early as Tuesday night. And the love from that moment has been beautiful. We’ve had people starting a movement on social media trying to share the film even though it has been removed by us. We’ve had people organically starting and sharing ‘Our Tanishq Story’ as a hashtag – over 200 stories of inter-faith love have been shared and the people who’ve started that movement plan to make it into a book. Many people also messaged us that they have gone and bought Tanishq jewellery to show solidarity with the brand.   

When you were conceptualizing the ad, did you at any point feel that it will get so much publicity, the good kind or bad?

Amit Akali: Honestly, no. It was just one of the many ways we had explored to bring the concept of ‘Ekatvam’ alive. It was part of a large campaign thought. Our stance on the current situation was that the only way we could come out stronger from this crisis as a nation is, if we stick together and support each other. We think Ekatvam is the solution. For e.g. If you wear a mask and I don’t, as a nation we will not get out of this pandemic. Also, at the heart of ‘Ekatvam’ is the product that brings alive beauty in oneness – it’s a historic effort where different karigars, working on different art forms, came together to create a unique collection. We were then looking at different situations that brought alive this beauty of oneness. We actually thought of 30 different situations and shortlisted what we thought were the more relevant ones to the current context and society. Godh Bharai was just one of those situations and it came from our own reality. I am a Hindu-Sikh married to a Parsi and this is my normal. Also, what we loved was the dialogue that we felt every Indian would resonate with – “Beti ko pyar karne ki rasam toh har ghar mein hoti hai”. So, no, we didn’t expect so much publicity.

Were you disheartened when the brand pulled back the ad after the controversy erupted, despite getting an equal amount of support as hate on social media?

Tejas Mehta: I would like to clarify. The love on social media has been more than the hate. But at the same time, we work very closely with the client and understand exactly why it was removed when it was. We would have done exactly the same, and I am sure you would have too, if put in a similar situation. 

How will this episode affect your creativity in future? Are there things that you will consciously make an effort to steer clear of in your ads here on?

Amit Akali: Three years ago when it was taboo to speak about death, we got terminally ill patients to make fun of their own impending death. That went viral and was unanimously loved by people around the world. For Dailyhunt we borrowed from the culture that people seemed to be just repeating the views they heard from biased media and said ‘Tota mat bano’. So, we believe that advertising works when it connects with people and you connect with people when you borrow from what’s happening around them. That’s the same reason so many people have connected with the Tanishq ad and shown their love to it. We will definitely continue to borrow from culture and what’s happening around us.

Kangana Ranaut called the makers of the ad ‘Creative Terrorists’. Is this an era where the advertising industry needs to be afraid of trolls on social media?

Tejas Mehta: I think you have to be aware, not afraid. It’s the truth of new-age advertising. There’s a theory called the ‘Spiral of Silence’, which says sometimes a minority of voices believes what the majority says. Alternately, the majority voice keeps quiet and doesn’t get involved. I think more and more, people are getting involved and sharing their voices. And that’s encouraging for us as a society.

How has this controversy impacted the Ekatvam campaign? Were there more ads in the series which have been stalled?

Amit Akali: The love has been positive. And like I said, we have explored many different facets of Ekatvam which we will continue to share.

How has this ad row affected your relationship with the client, Tanishq?

Tejas Mehta: We in fact started with Dua Ka Sona last year, and have been working very closely with them. We are one team. And they’ve been extremely supportive.

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