Twitter debate heats up over Airtel's Boss ad: Did Airtel go overboard this time?

The new Airtel ad is being piped as "demoralising" and "sexist" and has stirred up a slew of opinions on social networking sites. Click here to read more.

e4m by Ankur Singh
Updated: Jul 31, 2014 9:54 AM
Twitter debate heats up over Airtel's Boss ad: Did Airtel go overboard this time?

With Indians growing vocal about almost everything on social media, the web is abuzz with strong opinions surrounding Airtel’s new ad—The Boss. Strongly worded comments on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are a jumble of progressive and regressive views.

The TVC begins with a resolute female boss ordering two male colleagues to get an assignment done, with one of them protesting its feasibility. The boss, however, asks them to manage. Later in the evening only one man is seen working over-time. He receives a call from his wife—the boss being the wife. The ad portrays the effort of a strong female boss at work on one hand, and a caring wife who wishes to spend the evening with her husband. She, in turn, ends up cooking a scrumptious meal for the husband while he slogs at work.

Watch the video here:

With that image, the ad tries to speak to young working couples who find it hard to find time for each other on account of hectic careers. However, that’s not how the Internet is taking it. The ad has turned quite a few eyes, in fact “rolled” many of them. It has stirred outrage on the Internet.

Here are a few excerpts:


That’s about the social network. Here’s what experts have to say about the hype created over the ad:

Nima Namchu, Chief Creative Officer, Cheil India said, “Considering there wouldn't be a sizeable number of couples who work in the same organisation with similar reporting structure and the fact that the plot is a trifle too contrived, I don't think too many people are going to connect with it. But then again, there's bound to be quite a few who will find this rather rare and awkward professional/personal arrangement quite novel and romantic.”

I don't get why all this hullaballoo about a woman who cooks something special for a partner who's working late. I just see one partner reaching home early and cooking dinner. If you noticed, they didn't have help. Having said that, the agency is probably wishing they had reversed the roles of the couple. I am sure all the outraged feminists would have been cool with that.”

Sambit Mohanty, Creative Head, DDB Mudra North said, “I wouldn't go so far as branding this film of 'promoting regressive values'. It's a situation that has unfortunately boomeranged with its portrayal of a woman who, despite being professionally successful, still cooks for her husband. There are far more regressive issues concerning women in our country e.g. child marriage and honour killings and we'd be better off discussing and finding solutions for those. It's relatable as far as a young working couple is concerned, but the relatability ends there. I feel it's a very contrived situation – no couple in their right minds would ever inhabit the same workplace, unless they want to split! It's evoking 'sexist' accusations since it shows the lady being the boss in the workplace yet having to cook at home to please dear hubby.

In a way it is stereotyping working women, by depicting that no matter how far they move up the corporate ladder they'll be doing the household chores at home – and cooking is part of that. Look at it this way, would we ever show a man lovingly cooking a meal for his wife who's having a late night at work?

Personally I didn't like it as I felt it was way too predictable…you don't have to wait till the end of the film to know the boss is also the wife. I don't think it connects emotionally and so its likeability is suspect. That said, the outrage on twitter is a storm in a tea-cup that's bound to subside – so the creators of the ad need not get sleepless nights over it.”

According to Suresh Eriyat, Founder and Creative Director, Eeksaurus,  “The film is surely a well made one, but as an idea I think it is mediocre. When around the world, global brands are doing such amazing innovative communication, we are playing 'hide and seek' here in our films. Powerful advertisers like Airtel which is a global brand too, need to look at using advertising as a way to touch people's lives and change it for the better. I feel it is regressive to accept such ideas and despite that I know millions in India would still be loving this film.”

All said, one ad, regardless of the brand or the product, has created a national debate and social media has provided the platform for varied opinions.

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