Ahead of the holidays, advertising campaigns are finding ways to be inclusive and break down prevailing prejudices

An ongoing Mia by Tanishq ad campaign features Riza Reji, 24, who will become the first Indian woman to attend an international benefit runway run by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GLOBAL) in Denver, USA. Being a finalist helped Riza star in the Mia by Tanishq campaign, where she models the brand’s gold jewellery.

Sampurna Rakshit, Marketing Manager of Mia by Tanishq, says the campaign, which is timed ahead of Diwali, is centered around celebrating the diversity of each individual. “Riza is a trained dancer and model out of interest and seemed like a natural choice that could add sparkle to a modern brand like Mia. She was confident, confident and full of energy. Her sense of style and aesthetics also suited the brand,” she says.

In the commercial, which launched last week, Riza is among seven people chosen from different fields and disciplines, including rapper Dee MC, artist Queen Andro and fashion influencer Sakshi Sindwani.

Ads, Indian Ads, Inclusive Ads, Christmas Ads, Mia by Tanishq Campaign, Celebrating Diversity Ads, Indian Express News Riza Reji (courtesy of Anitha Reji)

“I like simple jewelry,” she says, adding that learning how to smile for the campaign was a challenge. Nevertheless: “It was fun, I was happy about that,” she adds. Riza’s mother, Anitha Reji, says this as the parents of a person who did it Down syndrom, they educate themselves extensively using online resources. She and her husband, Reji Waheed, realized that Riza’s passions were dance and theater. “We had to find and keep an eye on their interests. We must encourage children without thinking that only academics count. Everyone is different,” says Anitha.

When it comes to inclusion and representation, the Indian advertising landscape has seen brands compete with each other in recent years. Ahead of the holiday and wedding season, ad campaigns are finding new ways to challenge prevailing prejudices and nod to some of society’s most marginalized groups, and this year may be no different. Many brands have moved away from stereotypes in recent years and presented storylines that are obviously intended to break storylines.

Earlier this year, an ad by Bhima Jewelery revolved around a trans people and the acceptance they find in their family. What made the advertisement different was that it was bridal jewelry, something that would normally be aimed at a cis-het woman. In this advertisement, Meera Singhania, who identifies as a trans woman plays the protagonist in real life. Navya Suhas, Online Operations Head of BHIMA Jewelers Trivandrum, had told it The news minute: “The reason for choosing this concern is that despite so much talk about gender equality between men and women, the trans community is often neglected in this debate. That’s why we put together the brand ad. We knew we had to do something relevant for the trans community in today’s society.”

Ads, Indian Ads, Inclusive Ads, Christmas Ads, Mia by Tanishq Campaign, Celebrating Diversity Ads, Indian Express News A still from the advertisement for Bhima Jewellery.

Earlier this year, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the industry regulator, updated its Advertising Code for greater inclusivity in all brand communications through advertising. ASCI had previously prevented ads containing derisive language based on race, caste, creed, gender or nationality, but new updates span a broader spectrum.

Advertisers and brands have become more aware of sociocultural shortcomings and issues such as body positivity, interfaith marriages, women’s rights and gender equality. These ads not only try to comply with the ASCI rules, but also go one step further.

But not all strategies are successful. In 2020, a Diwali season advert by Tanishq, which showed a baby shower organized by her Muslim in-laws for the Hindu bride, was met with outrage from right-wing social media users, who accused her of “love jihad”. The brand eventually withdrew the ad.

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