Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Lead Kindly Light"

As I  prepare to tick one more box off the calender of my life in advertising, I take a  pause and wonder.
 Can  advertising a lighthouse, or a beacon  or will it primarily be a mirror?

My paper in the Chevening Scholarship was on Beauty and Women in advertising. That was the year Dove launched its Real Beauty  campaign and my paper was brimming with Dove and real women. Finally, advertising had reached its age. Where we could show reality and not airbrushed clones all over again.

Six years later, I am as much part of what we see around us and proud of the work as well. The work has built brands, catapulted  market share and sustained brands through the trough.

Yet there are times when I  wonder whether there is something more I can do through the work I have done for 14 long years.
Can we  be bolder when it comes to showing women and change?
Change is not a discussion about short kurtis and jeans instead of a saree and feeling proud that we have shown a modern women. Change is not enough when we limit the spirit of winning to young men and young boys.
A young modern mother's role more than  serving children food,  and worrying about her husband's cholestrol level and insurance.
Am wondering whether I can think of a  brand  that can stand up and say- I am about  change. I reflect the  dreams and desires of the young modern Indian woman. And showcase this proudly.
There is so much of advertising consumed every minute. Every second. No social media has the reach of a mass media brand spend. No NGO can ever hope to match up.

If some of the work also had an inspiring quotient,  served as a call for action for women in smaller towns who are still straining at the leashes, shone the spotlight on the working wife and mother who has done an excellent job of managing  home and life,  applauded an unsung hero who had stood against society, woven into the brand message,  there would definitely be a change. Definitely easier said than done. But then, it is fine to at least wonder and debate.

Read somewhere that the best productivity and impact happens when there is an element of greater good. Whether it is a product, service, institution, brand or industry.

Of course there is reality. Brand need to compete, brands need aspirations, brands have their own personality and need to speak in their voice. Reality also is that we are not in the business  of simply inspiring people, we inspire people to relate to, and ultimately drive preference for a brand.Reality is that real life  does not make for interesting creative. Am part of the business and know this and all the other realities we operate it. It is indeed very challenging .

Yet , in brief moments like this, when I take a pause, I long to make a  small difference. At least to the women I create work for.When the work on the brand can also inspire her to  take just one small step against the leash of life.

After all, we are in the business of weaving dreams.


  1. Very well written!

    Also, thanks for your comments on my blog.