In a country marred by social issues relating to sexuality and gender, one company in India has decided to air an ad on television that challenge the taboo of homosexuality. Fastrack is India’s largest youth fashion brand and appeals to a new, younger India.
Their new ad campaign begins with a pink closet shaking back and forth. One side of the closet opens and a woman exits while adjusting her skirt. Then, the other door opens and another woman exits fixing her shorts. The commercial ends with the message, ‘come out of the closet, move on.’
Fastrack has a reputation for being edgy, but never has it so blatantly touched on a hot social issue. Only once before in India’s history has there been an ad advocating homosexuality, in 2009 with an ad celebrating India’s decriminalization of homosexuality.
The company certainly has risked offending a large audience in India, but because of its specifically youthful market that reflects a changing, more modern India, they seem to believe it is a risk was worth taking. Fastrack’s Ad is yet another example of something in the advertising world called ‘branding equality’ in which a company seeks to address a social issue in order to portray their company as more progressive.
According to Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas (the creative agency responsible for the campaign), “It’s not controversial, but progressive, the idea is to ask people to let go of the unnecessary societal norms and embrace their preferences.””¨”¨The brief released from the agency describes how they set out to discover what would be the next step on the ladder called ‘move on.’
“We thought this space of challenging taboos was neat. It was hot, more edgy, and more contemporary, all at once,” Iyer adds.”¨”¨Critics of this advertising technique argue that ‘branding equality’ misleads the public into believing that the company is actively engaging and acting for the underprivileged group, when often it is not. Others maintain that private companies, whether or not they legitimately intend to, can play an active role in liberalizing social norms.
Whatever the case is for Fastrack, the ad is sure to raise some eyebrows.