The Tanishq Godh Bharai ad has generated the most conversation in recent times of any advertising campaign. The reactions which started off with all hate on social media, accompanied by the #BoycottTanishq hashtag, started to see the love a couple of days later. It’s taken over our timelines across social media and even the mainstream media has been covering this film and its divided reaction.
Campaign wanted to dwell deeper to try to understand this journey. The Godh Bharai ad is part of a series bringing alive the concept of Ekatvam – or unity. At the heart of the campaign is a new collection being launched by Tanishq – Ekatvam – which itself has been made together by Tanishq artists from across India, practicing different Indian art forms. The print campaign brought alive the concept of Ekatvam and the importance and beauty of oneness in these times.
The first film was in fact ‘reunion’. This featured a teacher who’s meeting her students in school after the lockdown (below) and how they hug each other tighter than ever before, without hugging. Ending the film with the line – 'Ek jo huye hum, toh kya na kar jayenge – Ekatvam by Tanishq'. So, while the first film brought alive Ekatvam from the POV of people coming together after the lockdown, the second film Godh Bharai was another take with regards to Ekatvam with families and communities coming together.
Following conversations with Tejas Mehta, COO and Amit Akali, founder and CCO, What’s Your Problem, the agency behind the campaign, and after reading their posts, it is easier to see that Ekatvam has numerous pieces bringing it alive, one of them being this Godh Bharai Film.
Mehta explained, “The brand believes that now more than ever, only unity or Ekatvam can help us get out of this crisis. If I maintain social distance and you don’t, the country won’t get out of this crisis. The only way out is ‘united’ – ‘ekatvam’. We’ve got print campaigns done by artists, we’ve got TVCs on IPL, we even have a documentary on Tanishq karigars and what they’ve done to keep alive Indian karigari. And there are more ads and pieces, yet to be released.”
A storm erupts
Coming back to the journey, the film featuring the teacher released on 3 October. And then approximately a week later the Godh Bharai film was released. On Sunday, 11 October, in the evening it started getting disliked on YouTube and by Monday morning the dislikes were far greater than the likes. Monday morning is when the hate on Twitter started against the brand. While most of the reactions were just general abuses there were a few personal comments taking on the Tanishq management.
The brand initially held its ground. But towards the evening there were a few posts targeting a Tanishq employee from its marketing team and marking him out. Tanishq later clarified that there was obviously no truth in the same with the said employee having no connection with the creation of the campaign. After that, Tanishq took the campaign down.
The next day saw support for Tanishq from including a tweet from Shashi Tharoor which also featured the film. It was taken down by the brand. There was also a lot of conversation criticising Tanishq for withdrawing the ad. Towards the latter half of the day, murmurs started coming out explaining why Tanishq had withdrawn the ad. The company too issued an official statement, mentioning the importance of the safety of its employees. The conversation by now was debated on Indian and world media.
Here comes the love
Wednesday morning saw the love pouring in. The folks at What’s Your Problem – Tejas, Amit, etc had put out their POVs on social media. Probably for the first time ever, industry bodies like The Ad Club, AAAI and the IAA gave statements supporting the ad and the brand.
Mehta said, “The love since then has been overwhelming. People have messaged me saying they are buying Tanishq Jewellery to protest against the hate and they’ve even sent me copies of the bill once they’ve bought it. There are various movements that have started including ‘Our Tanishq Story’ where people in inter-faith marriages are posting their own Tanishq moments. Another movement makes sure the ad is seen by more and more people even though they’ve been brought down and then #Tanishq Love has been making the rounds.”
Akali added, “The Industry has come together as one and has been more supportive than ever before. I’ve gotten calls from people who know my and those who don’t, from across the world.”
Is this the last of the conversation? Likely not. The effects of this incident on the way advertising is created and approved are sure to be many. Surely that will be discussed over the next many months.