ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bharti's Ad: A Product and a Sentiment

The gendered reading of a Bharti Airtel advertisement currently telecast across TV channels, which begins with the promise of role reversal at the workplace, is misplaced. A feminist decoding of the ad voices its dissatisfaction that the promise of role reversal is not carried through into domestic space. The social roles in the domestic space remain entrapped in the conventional. A slightly modified and expanded version of this criticism is that the ad world is caught in a time warp, not bringing to light the role reversal that is actually taking place in domestic spaces, with a lot of new age men taking to domestic “chores”. A liberal reading of the ad, on the other hand, stresses the notion of choice and sees the woman in the ad being in command in both situations, whether it be as an office boss or a loving wife. So long as there is no coercion, the ad is progressive, it certifies.

Both the readings miss the wood for the trees. The primary purpose of any ad is to promote its product. How the product is placed within the ad is of foremost concern. While executing this, an ad does draw upon a social context but its portrayal of the social context is framed by the message it ultimately intends to send to prospective consumers regarding its product. As long as the ad strikes a right mix of social context and the advertorial message, it can be said to have achieved its goal. In short, no ad, professionally, can intend deliberately to be socially transformative, and searching for this is indulging in over-reading. Both the above readings take the social context for discussion only after delinking it from the advertorial message, and in this sense end up barking up the wrong tree.

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