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More diversity, less gender stereotyping in ads: What women leaders from adland want

Leading ladies from Indian adland shared that the biggest task for this generation of creators and marketers is to abolish gender roles

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Mar 8, 2021 9:50 AM
four leading ladies from Indian adland

Gender-biased advertising - for decades - has encouraged discrimination based on age, ethnicity, ability, and sexual orientation. Harmful stereotypes in advertising may have remained unchallenged for years. The green shoots of progressive communication narratives about women may well have sprouted but has the advertising industry been able to wholly and authentically reflect the diversity of the world we live in? We speak to four leading ladies from Indian adland on unchallenged taboos surrounding women that hope advertising better reflects. Here’s what they have to say:

Kainaz Karmakar, CCO, Ogilvy

Real diversity is something that I always see missing in our advertising.

Of course, we see it in ads that are talking about diversity but that is exactly what I want to be changed.

How many times have we seen a northeastern girl cast as the main lead in an ad that is not emphasising inclusivity?

Our casting is so narrow. The talents we choose are from a small pool of political correctness and aesthetic acceptance. We need a dramatic change here. Not just in India but all over the world.

Pallavi Chakravarti, Executive Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu

One change I'd like to see reflected in advertising is a more realistic depiction of women in everyday brand work. Addressing taboos is being done, sometimes at a mainstream level, sometimes via secondary and tertiary brand conversations. Single moms, menstruation taboos, remarriage, many subjects have been touched upon in recent years. However, I'm yet to see regular-sized women or women who are not "gori-chitti" depicted in most ads. Everyone is well turned out, everyone is fit, everyone is conventionally good-looking - maybe it would help if we stopped chasing "aspirational" and started depicting "real" instead.

Pooja Jauhari, CEO, The Glitch

"The most important role we all can play is to abolish gender roles. That’s the biggest task at hand for this generation of creators and marketers. While we are making some progress we still have a LONG way to go on how we represent women in film, TV and digital."

Nisha Singhania, Co-Founder, infectious Advertising 

Advertising is guilty of gender stereotyping - the ever sacrificing mother who is solely responsible for the health, well being and nourishment of the family, the hard-working father who has no time for home, the difference between how a daughter and daughter in law are treated, financial planning for beti ki shaadi and bete ki padhai...the list goes on. As marketers, we need to be extra careful on how we depict women and their role in society. 

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