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Tanishq faces Criticism from all sides after Withdrawing Ad due to Social Media Outrage

Sanskriti Airon

14th October 2020

Over the past few days, Tanishq, the well-known jewellery brand of the Tata Group, has been in hot water with a significant fraction of its audience over an ad that showed elements of inter-faith marriage. The advertisement caused such turmoil over social media that the company pulled it down. However, the troubles surrounding the company are not yet at an end.

A scene from the Ad in question, with the Indian lady and her Muslim mother-in-law. (Source: The New Indian Express)

The advertisement depicts a baby shower organised by a Muslim family for their Hindu daughter-in-law. At the end of the visuals, she questions her mother-in-law about the ceremony not being traditional in their family, to which the mother-in-law replies, “Isn’t it traditional for all households to keep their daughters happy?” The ad, which released on October 9th- for Tanisq’s new line of jewellery called ‘Ekatvam’, conveys ‘Unity’ or ‘Oneness’.

Following the publication of the ad, there was severe backlash over social media, primarily over the question of whether the ad was promoting Muslims over Hindus and whether it was right to show such mixing of the two different faiths. This eventually resulted in #BoycottTanishq which was still trending on Twitter as of October 16th. Given the overwhelmingly negative reception, Tanishq decided to withdraw the ad formally.

In an official statement, as reported by The Hindu, the company said, “The idea behind the Ekatvam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness. This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective”. This move caused a backlash from a different section of the audience, who objected to Tanishq backing down to such complaints. Some people, according to Times Now News, believe that Tanishq should have “stuck to their guns” and not given in to the social media pressure.

Amidst the many arguments taking place between both sides of the debate, the various advertising regulation bodies of India have expressed near unilateral support for Tanishq’s advertisement, claimed an article from Times Now. Furthermore, advertisement bodies have condemned the intimidation faced by Tanishq over its TVC and voiced their support for the ad industry's creative freedom of expression. Specifically, the International Advertising Association (IAA) said that it, “strongly reiterates the need to strengthen and safeguard the fundamental right to express and receive commercial expression as guaranteed in Section 19 (i) (A) of the Constitution of India” in a statement to ET Now. The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and The Advertising Club (TAC) also condemned the vicious intimidation and aggression faced by Tanishq.

Since the ad’s release one week ago, Tata’s stock price has dropped significantly, showing a 3.4 percent decrease in price as of October 15th. As this controversy continues to develop, there may well be a need to reach consensus on the questions of freedom of creative expression, corporate branding practices, the influence of social media on advertising policies and so on.

News Sources: The Hindu, Times Now News, The Economic Times

Edited by Aayush Lahoti

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