Has today’s advertising kept pace with scores of Indian women emerging from the shadows to seek their rightful place in society? 4Ps B&M presents various views

Resurgent India! India shining! Woman power unleashed! Superwomen in the corridors of power! Evolved, educated, accomplished, articulate and confident, this new woman is a blazing reality in today’s India! After decades of prejudice inflicted by tradition and a male-dominated society, women – at least a significant minority – seem to be coming into their own. And magazines, publications, special supplements, debates, discussions and seminars, they all seem to be fixated on energetically championing the female cause now!

But has Indian advertising – which has made huge waves globally in all major platforms, forums and meets – for its turn been able to sensitively, fairly and realistically track, reflect, mirror or portray this seismic change? Has Indian advertising been able to capture the nuances of this fascinating creature successfully straddling several universes with all the complexity, confidence and contradictions at her disposal? Or is the re-enforcing of stereotypes with corny and predictable makeovers simply cosmetic tokenism?

It is interesting to note what Michele Kristula-Green (the revered Asia-Pacific President of Leo Burnett) articulated at a recent presentation that she made on this subject, where she accused advertisers of constantly portraying women “in the man’s version of what they should be.” The ad biz guys, a recent study says, seem to be way-off on at least five crucial parameters – money, sexuality, humour, emotion and authenticity. The study also revealed that unlike the West, women in the Asian society are not comfortable with blatant portrayals of sex, because for them it is a part of their intrinsic femininity – and not something to be exhibited in a titillating, man-baiting way. Finally – and this is critical – the study says that in Asian societies, girls are taught to view emotions as a strength not a weakness; and hence their responses to messages and communication are far different from what is shown in today’s well-packaged yet logically worthless advertisements!

We asked a few evolved, intelligent women and their reactions were both interesting. And startling!

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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