Thursday, October 25, 2007


wonders whether the “New Woman” is appropriately reflected in adland or...

Grey Worldwide’s NCD Priti Nair agrees. She believes there has been a dramatic shift from woman-as-doormat to woman-as-achiever. “There is more life, positivity, energy and drive in the way she is projected. The young modern mother is bright, active and peppy. She is pro-active, not re-active!” Swapan Seth of Equs Red Cell begs to differ. “I really don’t know from where all this is coming from! Today’s woman is most certainly being stifled and gagged in a world of stereotypes. At best the stuff mentioned are surface shifts providing glamorous distractions. Marketers seem to be continents away from confronting real – edgy, uneasy, controversial, troubled – social shifts. Where is the single, successful, strong, opinionated, unmarried 35-year old woman? Where is the positive, cheerful, smart, successful single mother whipping up a tasty meal for her excited small kids? That calls for a courageous client and braveheart agency!” Young and attractive executive of a high profile fashion house, Tania Haldar brings her own perspective to the table. “It’s a given that a pretty face with the right – ahem – equipment can sell almost anything! Savvy ad film-makers cash in on this regularly, using air brush techniques to wash away in essentials like a thick waistline or skin blemishes and before you know it, voila! You have the perfect babe selling you a host of products – perfumes, cosmetics, fairness creams, detergents, mobiles, shoes, home appliances, inner wear, washing machines, electronic goods, cars, holiday resorts – that works.” However, Haldar laments the fact that if and when serious, decision making and meaningful issues need to be forcefully publicised (Insurance, education, social issues like woman empowerment, girl child, adult literacy, HIV Aids) today’s woman, sadly, is nowhere to be found! Does that mean that she is perceived as someone incapable of influencing popular imagination when something solid needs to be ‘pushed’ (where are you, YAWN Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das) used only for frivolous consumer items? If that is so, how much justice is today’s Adville really doing to representation of today’s woman, which reaches consumers?

So what gives?

Being cautious, maintaining the status-quo, playing safe… willing to wound but afraid to strike… is that the real situation? It’s a tough call. At one level, there has certainly been a conscious effort to keep pace with the new woman. However (as Swapan perceptively points out) to go the road less travelled, be bold, audacious and break new ground by embracing uncomfortable (and unspoken) real life issues in terms of contemporary realities is – alas –something that is, almost, zilch.

Our guess is that it has to do with comfort levels, not wanting to rock the boat, being happy by making all the right noises at the right forums - and most importantly, yelling the famous lines is complacent self-defence: Why mend it if it ain’t broke, babe... right?


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