No, we’re not talking about advertising in terms of what works and what doesn’t. That’s a call marketers can take. What we want to discuss is the ethical, ‘what is appropriate’ side of advertising. Not moral thought, because that would imply setting down rules of dos and don’ts. No. we want to discuss ‘what is the right approach’ and ‘the right thing to do’ based on discretion. Right now, this ability to discern is kept aside by advertisers in favour of a profit-centric approach.
Anything that sells works as far as they are concerned. This cannot be made right by laws and legislation. A more conscious approach is required by the media. Let’s take for example the most obvious product that has irked many for its apparent exploitation of traditionally discriminating and sexist mindsets to sell itself.
We are talking about Fair and Lovely. It’s more than evident positioning as a product for women that makes your skin fairer is extremely bigotry and chauvinistic, to say the least. It promotes the idea that a woman needs to be fairer to be attractive. That’s unacceptable in today’s world. Most ads that are worth mentioning here use this traditionally biased approach towards women as a tool to sell their products.
Advertising as we know does have an influence on people and these suggestions, sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious, do strengthen and reinforce these mindsets. A recent ad for Joy E-Bike is also a case in point. Here are two women standing beside their husbands and lamenting. One says ‘my husband doesn’t take me out and doesn’t provide chocolate and ice cream as petrol has become expensive’. The other woman has the answer. She says, ‘my husband takes me out and brings chocolate and ice cream every day because now he has a Joy E-Bike that saves him money.
Today, when women are working and earning for themselves, their dependency on husbands has decreased to quite an extent and will further decrease as time goes by. It’s for the best actually and women need to be empowered more and made independent if we want to move forward. Showing this kind of ad in today’s times is not only bigotry but also in bad taste. We would do better to have ads that promote equality and fairness between sexes, races, castes, creeds and nations if we want to live in a more peaceful and harmonious world.