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How transgender advertising is breaking bias in India's social construct

Advertisers are turning focus on the marginalised trans community. It can be argued if their goal is to support them but one thing is certain, the positive portrayal of the community in ads is changing the way society has looked at them for centuries. BestMediaInfo.com analyses the trend

Remember the Six Pack Band? The group of six transgenders clad in gorgeous sarees who opened their hearts through the Happy song? The progressive campaign produced by Brooke Bond Red Label and Y-films busted the conservative minds of society, who had trouble or stigma in accepting the community. But the confident and quirky band took on society’s biases against them and managed to create quite an impact — both among the audience and the creative and the advertising world.

Nowadays, we see more and more brands keeping the trans community in mind in their creatives or ad campaigns. The issue of transgenders gaining momentum in the advertising industry is itself a mirror to the changing mentality of society.

One can argue whether the actual goal of advertisers, who are increasingly putting the spotlight on the marginalised trans community, is actually to support them. But one thing is certain: the positive portrayal of community in ads is changing the way how people have looked at them for centuries.

The long pending rights of the trans community saw light after Supreme Court recognised them as the third gender. Transgenders were given the right to take admission in educational institutions and also seek employment.

With a change in laws and exposure to progressive thoughts, people started coming out of their preconceived shells and are beginning to accept the community as equal.

A testament to this was the Six Pack Band campaign, which had garnered a traction of over 25 million. Another campaign by Vicks, Gauri and Gayatri's story, attracted 10 million views on YouTube.

Vicks’ #TouchOfCare campaign showed the world that there are no boundaries to a mother-child relationship. The story of Gauri and Gayatri gave a new meaning to motherhood and the notion of family care.

WatConsult highlighted an important issue about transgenders that is hardly discussed. In association with Bold, a transgender modelling agency, the campaign (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSdx0Vet7ho) revolved around how transgenders are not allowed to donate blood, but what is stopping others from doing so? It urged people who have the privilege to donate blood to do so. 

Then, UrbanClap’s campaign offered a free photo shoot opportunity to members of the LGBTQ community.

A recent survey by Ipsos Global Survey along with Buzzfeed and Williams Institute, showed that at least 72% Indians want the discrimination against transgenders to stop. India has become the topmost nation to believe that it is a natural occurrence.

Talking about the Six Pack Band campaign, a spokesperson from HUL said, “This idea was pitched to us by YRF for Brooke Bond Red Label Tea. We partnered with them in bringing this alive. BBRL is driven by its purpose of ‘making the world a more welcoming place, one cup at a time’. We always want to engage consumers and society at large with our purpose. The Brooke Bond Red Label Six Pack Band is one path-breaking way of doing this; it has always struck an emotional chord with consumers through their campaigns that aim to bring about a change in societal outlook.”

The popularity of the community in ad world is not limited to India. There have been some path-breaking ads from around the world that gave a voice to them that they deserved.

Google aired a path-breaking ad on a transgender man, titled ‘The Story of Jacob and City Gym’ featuring Jake Nothnagel, unfolding his childhood as a boy trapped in a girl's body.

Dove’s campaign featuring a transgender mother talks about motherhood and depicting that there's not one way to be a mother.

Rajiv Dingra

Rajiv Dingra, Founder and CEO, Watconsult, feels that the trend of featuring transgenders in advertisements, whether as a marketing gimmick or a change seeker, doesn’t matter. “If brands are using them as marketing props, it is great in the sense that at least they are getting a platform on TV and social media. Earlier brands shied away from featuring transgenders, now they are becoming inclusive. That’s the first step. I think inclusivity is the start of talking about the issue that transgenders are facing. Once you start featuring them as a part of the society, then only people will start to talk about their issue. We are at the first step where mainstream advertisers are featuring them. The next step now is to pick up the issues and the final and the most important step is to make a real difference,” he said.

Vicks’ campaign #TouchOfCare campaign went on to become a milestone for the rights of the transgenders. The story of Gauri Sawant’s journey of motherhood redefined the values the relationship.

Ritu Mittal

Ritu Mittal, Country Marketing Manager, Vicks India, said, “Vicks has always been talking about mother-child relationship. Through the story of Gauri and Gayatri, we wanted to bring a new dimension by going beyond the boundaries of a family.”

According to Mittal, more than a challenge, it was the doubt about the consumer’s reception to the unconventional relationship that kept them on their toes. “When we took the idea of talking beyond families in India, it was a very unconventional thought to touch upon. Initially, marketers were not ready with this thought process. We connected with a few consumers who to our surprise well received the idea. I think the common people are a lot more open-minded than what we believe,” she said.

Taking a stand on social issues earns brands a lot of relevance and strengthens their position on the consumer’s minds. However, the success of all these campaigns totally depends on the mark these have made on people’s minds and the changes that have been brought in the society.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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