As the country prepares to celebrate Raksha Bandhan, through the lens of Indian advertisements we look at how a festival where ‘brother vows to protect sister’ has evolved to become less gendered and more progressive.
In many cases, the tradition of rakhi has evolved over time. So have the advertisements revolving the festivities.Ads have moved on from portraying the typical brother-sister bond to reflecting bonds between people from various walks of life. There are innumerable examples scattered across mediums of mass communication to point out that the culture in our country’s advertising industry is leading us towards a progressive future.
Tanvi Malick, a psychologist, emphasises that these commercials leave a deep impact on people and help them lead a better life by developing a stronger connect with one another. She opines, “The new advertisements are more inclusive and not sticking to traditional stereotypical gender roles. This not only gives a message of equality but also ensure that rakhi and its essence can be celebrated by all kinds of families. Feeling included in one’s community and practices makes people feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.”
A still from Amazon’s tv Commercial
A lot of commercials with impactful messages have become quite popular among masses. With constant progression in their promotional techniques, they have succeeded in striking the right chord. Big Bazaar and Gits Gulab Jamun are two prime examples with ad concepts that recognise the people who work hard day and night to make sure that we get a good night’s sleep, and asks the audience to remember them on the auspicious occasion.
On the other hand, Ferns N Petals and Micromax share the same message where a brother ties the rakhi on a sister’s wrist. The only difference between the two commercials was the age group of the siblings in the advertisement. In the case of Ferns N Petals, the siblings have reached the last phase of their lives and are seen celebrating Raksha Bandhan with their respective families.
Whereas, in the latter one, the duo is in their late twenties. They share a sweet and sour bond with each other.
In another Ferns N Petals commercial, it is portrayed that rakhi has no religion. A little girl ties the thread on the wrist of a boy belonging to a different community. A Nykaa ad brings forth the idea that a brother does not necessarily need to protect a sister. A sister can become one’s friend, family and protector too.
GoAir won a million hearts with an initiative they took up for the festival. Srinagar Airport is a defense base where every flight is provided heavy security cover by CRPF jawans. The airline decided to make Raksha Bandhan special for these soldiers who can’t go home every year during the festival.
When asked to recall their favourite rakhi ads though, many people said that they remember various Cadbury Celebrations commercials. In fact, these, along with others such as LIC, have been quite consistent over the years. Their festival TVCs are quite popular among different age groups as well. Pallabi Banerjee, an only child, could not understand whom to tie the string of love to, during her childhood. While watching an LIC advertisement, she innocently demanded a brother from her mother. “I badly wanted a sibling whom I could get treats from during Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj. What my mother said changed my life forever. According to her, I wasn’t any different than a son and I could protect myself. From then on, I tie myself a rakhi every year and promise to protect myself and my family at any cost. That advertisement was the trigger that helped my confidence reach sky high.”
Arghyadeep Chakraborty, a 21-year-old college student, elaborates, “The Celebrations’ commercials express a more relatable relationship between two siblings rather than something clichéd. It also shows the depth of the rakhi bond within 55 seconds, avoiding any unnecessary characters, incidents, etc.” He adds, “The ads succeeded in conveying the message clearly to the audience, unlike most ads these days that have a great opening but fail to keep the pace and fall flat. That's why those ads were my favourite.” Rishabh Sharma expresses a similar sentiment saying, “Nowadays, the bond between siblings is vanishing. Jealousy and disputes are forcing people to drift apart. These advertisements manage to rejuvenate the emotions at least during this time of the year.”
The bond is what matters, after all. And in a world where everyone is busy running the rat race, if Indian ad-makers can sprinkle a bit of love and care, they sure help make the country a better place.