Earlier today, I had written an impassioned comment on the recent Tanishq ad, the trolling that the brand and company had to suffer because of some narrow-minded interpretation of the ad and the consequent withdrawal of the ad by Tanishq. For those who haven’t read the piece, here you go: https://www.readytomelt.com/its-a-sad-day-for-tanishq-for-titan-watches-and-for-tata/.
Subsequent to the publishing of the piece, I received a number of calls and messages largely in agreement with my view.
But I also received a couple of unusual calls, made in confidence, by people who were close to the communication and who were aware of more details.
Of all the details, there is only one detail that matters:
An employee of Tanishq – and his family – was trolled mercilessly and threatened with his life.
That one detail was provocation enough for the company to decide to pull the communication – even if the company remained convinced that the ad was well-intentioned and not remotely disturbing. There was only one overriding reason for the decision: the safety of the employee in question.
It makes me understand the decision of Tanishq and re-look at my comments.
Should Tanishq have, in ordinary circumstances, pulled the ad?
The ONLY reason for the ad to be withdrawn was if the ad was found to be contravening the guidelines of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the body that has been constituted precisely to oversee the fairness, authenticity, truthfulness of messages in advertising.
Does the Tanishq ad contravene ANY guideline?
Then, why pull the ad?
Because Tanishq was intensely worried about the well-being and safety of their employees. Not just the employee in question, but about their employees in their showrooms, offices, plants and so on.
So let me say that I UNDERSTAND their decision and sympathise with the decision-makers.
But I am still worried that a brand pulls their advertising as a result of the OPINION of some trouble-makers.
Shall we disband ASCI and let the rule of the jungle take over? Can the mob be the arbiter of what ad is acceptable and what is not?
It is no different when the mob decides what we eat, the books we read, the music we listen to and the clothes we wear.
When the mob can decide – and not a legal authority and the letter of the law — anarchy enters the stage.
And, if left unchecked, anarchy takes over.
What happens now? Will creative directors and marketers pore over every script with a fine-toothed comb to see how a full stop or a comma could offend the mob?
If my initial thoughts resulted in a rant at Tanishq, Titan and Tata, my thoughts, after being made privy to the threat to the hapless employee, turn to a rant at the administration and the government.
How can such a situation come to pass? How can it be allowed at all? How can a young man (who, incidentally, had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of the ad) be fearful of his life because pockets of our society take objection to a piece of communication?
It’s time for the many acronyms that rule the advertising world to take over and help Tanishq – and any brand that might find itself in a similar predicament in the future.
The Advertising Club of India, Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), International Advertising Association (IAA), ASCI, and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) need to come together and immediately approach the powers that be – including the Prime Minister (who has spoken at an IAA event) and the I&B Ministry to find a permanent solution to this problem and ensure that no repeat of this occurs.
Do it now, and nip it in the bud – before it becomes a problem that cannot be controlled.
Update: Tanishq issued a statement, that reads:
“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.
We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff.”