The world has seen the rise of a cosmic range of superheroes in recent years, in the fictitious realm, but, in India, we have quite a lot who have become proclaimed vigilantes, moral police, who fight for causes they think are important. The advertising world, however, has faced flak for obvious reasons – support them, oppose them or stay neutral, controversies have become an occupational hazard. This article carefully treads on the fine line between endorsement and empowerment. Let’s get started, shall we?
The “Regional” Files
Now, we all know the hidden (rather reworded) word in the title. Though the movie has garnered outstanding reviews and outrageous criticisms likewise, the entire cast stood headstrong, in support of the movie. Many critics said that the movie was ‘coloured’ differently to substantiate national propaganda, but the whole truth is still missing. It is quite a sensitive topic to even spark a conversation. The vast exodus of 1990, portrayed in this movie, has been made tax-free in some states and is being condemned in others. The communal disharmony has been triggered to a great level because the movie highlights the “truth” of one community that was ousted from their forefather’s homeland. As storytellers, advertisers need to focus only on one thing – is the story appealing enough and relates to the people? We’ve seen the reactions of people after watching the movie. Some were genuinely emotional and some were furious. Both the reactions need to be considered when you, as an advertiser, dwell on a subject like this.
Bruised, battered & banned – Moral Policing in Advertising
The world was divided after the release of this movie but the question still stands, “is moral policing prevalent in advertising too?”
Yes! Looking at an advertisement, purely from a brand’s perspective or from a product/service perspective is something that we (the general public) need to take a crash course on. Some of the leading brands have been battered because moral policing got the better of us. From Tanishq getting trolled for portraying an inter-cast marriage in a different manner or Sabysachi showcasing more cleavage than the mangalsutra, the moral vigilantes in advertising are no different.
There have been instances where some of the marquee celebrities were found to be flouting the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) guidelines and someone had to blow the whistle. The regulation authority has been accused of moral policing because of its extensive monitoring. On the contrary, ASCI has even stood up to some of the amendments that weren’t necessary.
Talking about another instance, the vigilantes policed Alia Bhatt for endorsing a liquor brand. This shows how our society has been judging women for the choices they make. Even before advertising existed, women have been judged and stereotyped since time immemorial. While Dove has taken a stance of promoting beauty in its purest sense by showcasing women without makeup, the beauty products choose to promote their products differently. All these brands, all these women, serve a purpose and unfortunately, that purpose isn’t put in print for society to understand.
The fact of the matter is that people don’t like to be bamboozled. They care about disclosure. If the content plays with facts, figures, or their faith, they are easily offended.
At 3 Dots Design Pvt. Ltd., we choose to tell brand stories that check all the emotional, beneficial and higher-order touchpoints. Being one of the best advertising agencies in Pune, we always ensure that morally, ethically and technically, our creative communications are in equilibrium. If you think your brand needs purposeful storytelling, you can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org