Rewind 2015: Traditional brands break taboos and prefer unconventional themes

Brands like Red Label, Wagh Bakri, Titan Raga, Dabur Vatika, Lux, Havells and Ariel increasingly challenged the deep rooted social taboos in their ad campaigns during 2015

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Published: Dec 21, 2015 10:04 AM  | 4 min read
Rewind 2015: Traditional brands break taboos and prefer unconventional themes

As we move towards the end of the year, we take a closer look at some ad campaigns that stood out of the clutter. One of the trends witnessed was traditional brands lapping up to bolder ad content. Age old brands broke their inhibitions and spoke about topics, which are closer to today’s generation. Tea brands like Red Label highlighted live-in-relationships and Wagh Bakri spoke about the growing gap between a husband and a wife owing to busy work life. Katrina Kaif in the Titan Raga commercial told women not to get married till they find the one who deserves their time.

Marriage portal rolled out their ‘Right to Choose’ TVC, which celebrated the modern women. Lux in their campaign ‘Discover the power of fragrances’, captured Katrina Kaif through the lens of the visually challenged Mumbai-based photographer.  While Dabur Vatika in its campaign-- ‘Brave and Beautiful’, saluted the spirit of female cancer survivors.

The year 2015 saw brands not getting deterred from highlighting controversial and unconventional topics as part of their communication.

Expert comment:

Commenting on the trend seen this year, Manish Bhatt, Founder Director at Scarecrow Communications said, “It has a lot to do with the changes in social and the digital media. Brands want to create buzz and be in the news and having a social perspective helps them to get talked about in this space. Brands have identified this, as a result of which advertisers are also putting their money on these ideas.”

Pravin Thakur, Digital Media Consultant, ibrand elaborated, “These brands are trying to target the middle and upper-middle consumer segments. The ads have been made, not with an intension to drive sales, but to create strong brand recall. It is like a nudge to this segment of audience, to remind them that traditions are bygones and things are changing today, so it is very important to keep changing with time.”

According to Simha Rajamanoor, Creative Director, Campaigns and Content, Asymmetrique, “Majority of these brands in their attempt to be different have come across as fake. The brand connect is sometimes very tenuous and it is not a natural one, copy writers have to really struggle to bring out one. There is so much of content on the social media space that it is difficult to recall one particular brand today. Unless the ad is really cutting edge, I won’t remember it because it is just an ad. It has to go beyond it.”

Below are few examples of traditional brands using unconventional subjects in their ads:


In Lux’s ‘Discover the power of fragrances’ campaign, JWT released a digital film this year featuring Katrina Kaif. The actress was captured through the lens of a visually challenged photographer, who describes what real beauty is all about. For a brand which has always been about celebrity, this particular ad stood out because it was not just the surface level beauty, but something deeper that it attempted to address.


In an attempt to take forward the brand’s Hawa Badlegi’ (Winds of change) proposition. The campaigns were built around issues rampant in our society and highlighted how simple changes in the mindset can make a big difference.


Its ‘Share the Load’ campaign asked viewers that- is laundry only a woman’s job? The detergent brand from P&G attempted to raise awareness around this issue.

Red Label:

After the success of the ‘Hindu-Muslim’ unity ad, the tea brand from the house of Brooke Bond touched the subject of live-in relationships.



Wagh Bakri Tea:

The 122-year old brand Wagh Bakri created a long format ad conceptualised by Scarecrow Communication. It looked at mending relationships at a time when we all are so absorbed in our work lives and went on to win the ‘Best ad film’ title at the 5th Dada Saheb Phalke Awards.

Dabur Vatika:

In the ‘Brave and Beautiful’ campaign by the hair-care brand, it highlighted the message that ‘some people don’t need hair to look beautiful’. The campaign saluted the spirit of cancer survivors and was appreciated for its unconventional narrative.

Nature Fresh Sampoorna Atta:

The brand’s latest campaign salutes the spirit of women who refuse to bow down to traditional role play. It highlights the aspirations of the new age woman who believe in making their own destiny.


Titan Raga:

In the campaign ‘When is the right time to get married?’ Katrina Kaif speaks about the undue pressure which is imposed on girls in order to get married. The ad conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather highlighted the essence of not giving in to traditions just for the sake of it.

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