“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” ― Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.
Switch on your TV, or open your newspaper on any day, no, every day, there will be news concerning a female and her safety, the dangers that she faces and the crimes against her. In such a time, it becomes more important for media to break gender stereotypes and empower women through its narratives. Here are nine ads that we think start much needed conversations.
In India, by the time a girl reaches the legal age of marriage (sometimes even before) the talk starts and the questions pour in. ‘When will she get married? She’s getting old, you know. Girls should be married young to avoid scandals.’ And of course, the ever famous, ‘Can she cook?’ Havells’ ad hits the nail on the head with the girl’s perfect response ‘I’m not a kitchen appliance.’ The witty ad promotes the product as well as empowers women in its own small way.
A perspective we don’t get to see a lot is explored in this ad. We see a young woman balancing her professional and personal life while her father observes how her husband doesn’t help with the household chores. This isn’t an uncommon sight in India. Women have to create a balance, ensure that both their worlds do not crash and burn while the husband’s duties end with ‘breadwinning.’ Homemaking remains a mostly female duty. Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad ads address the problem, asking an important question: Why is laundry only a mother’s job? The ad ends on a positive tone with the father returning home and helping his wife load the laundry.
A typical pre- arranged marriage scenario, where the boy’s family comes over to see the girl and are plied with snacks, served with a side of hypocrisy for the Indian society’s favorite question ‘Can the girl cook?’ is hardly ever met with ‘Can the boy?’ Biba’s change the convention ad however shows exactly that. The girl’s father is seen questioning the boy or well, his family on his ability to run a house which is received with shock by his parents. Turning the tables on this stereotype, Biba’s ad has taken its stand in the importance of changing conventions and breaking stereotypes.
‘The only thing on my mind is to bring my best to work.’ With a powerful and moving voice-over about women who can’t be bothered about stereotypes and societal disapproval because they’re too busy being the best version of themselves, Tanishq presents its Mia work-wear jewelry.
Featuring actress Radhika Apte, Anouk’s Bold is Beautiful ad highlights the difficulties a woman faces at work, especially a pregnant woman. Although the character portrayed by Apte in the ad is clearly talented and an asset to the company, because of her pregnancy she is overlooked for a promotion and loses many of her clients to a colleague. Undeterred, we see her leaving the company to start her own business. The message of the ad however can be seen in two different ways. On one hand the woman does not let anything stand in her way, but on the other hand, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Still, points for starting a much needed conversation.
This ad made the round a few times, featuring the well-known Nirma washing powder jingle—ah, brings back some childhood memories, doesn’t it?— but showcasing a very different story than usual. When an ambulance is stuck in a rut, quite literally, and all the onlookers stand watching instead of helping, ‘Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma’ step forward to help. They are of course, unafraid of the dirt since they are users of Nirma washing powder. The women step forward, hence, dispelling the ‘damsel in distress’ notion that women need saving, but never do the saving.
Depicting everyday scenarios in a woman’s life, the effort she must put to look poised and proper all the time, the ad brings to light the little things that act as obstacles to a woman’s comfort. However, as the pace of the background music picks up, the women give in to their desires and loosen up. ‘Let her be’ the ad states towards the end, bringing into conversation how every action of a woman from what she wears to how she sits is under constant scrutiny.
Vogue Empower released an ad titled ‘My Choice’ that created waves because of its compelling narrative. The ad’s only aim seems to be at giving women all over a voice that they do have a choice in every matter, despite what people say. Shot in black and white, the women portrayed are many and the ad talks about freedom, sexuality, sexual orientation and most other tabooed topics regarding women.
How does a woman climb the ladder of success? Does she use her charm, her beauty or her brains? Maybe a combination of it all? Titan’s ad is refreshing for the perspective it has chosen to portray and it isn’t until the very end that we see the point the ad is attempting to convey. In fact, it is probably that unexpected twist in the end that makes it so impactful. We’ll say no more, watch the ad for yourself!
If you know any more ads that are empowering women, leave a comment!