The Shrinking Bandwidth For Creativity: Should Brands Play It Safe For Marketing?

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The Shrinking Bandwidth For Creativity: Should Brands 'Play It Safe' For Marketing?

FabIndia's latest promotional advertisement titled 'Jahsn-E-Riwaaz' garnered a lot of criticism on social media platforms. Jashn-E-Riwaaz essentially translates to the 'celebration of tradition'.

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India is a land of rich heritage, with billions of people praying to their Gods and celebrating festivals in their ways. Therefore, brands also believe in pleasing their customer base with options related to festivities. However, several times, one can notice that the 'positive intention' of brands is mistaken for overstepping boundaries and disregarding the religious beliefs of certain faiths.

More so, many brands have been at the receiving end of a narrow-minded audience in recent times. Unfortunately, a brand's move of being more inclusive to all the people alike, irrespective of their religion is interpreted as a disgrace to another.

FabIndia Is Latest To Irk The Audience

Most recently, ethnic clothing brand FabIndia launched a brand campaign titled 'Jashn-E-Riwaaz', and the Twitterati burst into criticism. Right-Wing people protested, saying that the Urdu word hurt the Hindu sentiments since the nation is in the mood for Diwali, a 'Hindu festival'. The literal translation of the much-talked-about Urdu phrase is a 'celebration of tradition'. Therefore, it is only noteworthy to question how the brand's promotional video was hurtful to a particular religion, especially when all religions are gearing up for the festivities.

A similar incident happened with the detergent brand Surf Excel that launched a promotional video for Holi. In the advertisement, a young girl was seen asking the kids of her society to colour her on Holi, only to drop a by her age to the Masjid for his daily prayers. Critics believed that the ad-makers were not respecting the Hindu festival by showing a young Muslim in their ad. Any action has a counter-reaction, and several people on social media also supported the cause the brand tried to show.

Another such incident happened when the bridal wear brand Manyawar Mohey tried to question the age-old Hindu tradition of Kanyadaan, which essentially means a donation of the girl child. In Hindu marriages, one of the most important ceremonies is Kanyadaan. The brand tried to show that instead of donating the girl, one should believe in maintaining the girl's honour, thus translated into Kanyamaan. People said that the move was a 'disgusting marketing gimmick' by the brand.

In 2020, the Jewellery brand Tanishq had garnered media attention when they released an ad showing a Muslim family celebrating the baby shower of a Hindu Daughter-in-Law. To make the concept of unity clearer, the ad also showed that the mother-in-law's character saying that keeping the daughter happy is a practice in all households. Yet, the ad was severely criticized on social media.

Need To Broaden Spectrum

Unfortunately, when India should become more inclusive towards all religions, we are still stuck up on the age-old concept of what's mine and what is yours. COVID-19 pandemic was an example mentioning that adversity comes on all people alike, and it does not see religion and caste. There were numerous examples of people of all religions coming out to support the ones in need. On the one hand, people need to broaden their spectrum while looking at the marketing techniques of famous brands.

The onus also lies on the brands to stick to their move and not pull down the advertisement, merely because a section of society did not like it. It is time that high-end brands continue to be unapologetic while displaying their creativity and giving out a message that extends beyond the perimeter of marketing.

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Editor : Ankita Singh
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Creatives : Ratika Rana