You can call it the power of social media or the perils of social media, depending on which side of this fence you are sitting on. But one thing is certain – the manner in which Tanishq was forced to withdraw its advertisement showing an inter-faith marriage – is a telling commentary of the divisive times we live in.
Late on Tuesday evening, the brand issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions” and that it was withdrawing the video.
For those living under a rock and who have not seen it, the advertisement basically showed a Muslim family celebrating a traditional Hindu baby shower ceremony for their pregnant daughter-in-law.
The campaign was released on October 9 and immediately led to the hashtag #BoycottTanishq. The 45-second film faced massive backlash on social media. Among others was actor Kangana Ranaut accusing Tanishq of not only promoting “love jihad” but also sexism. The trolling included threats to the company’s employees and directors.
By Monday evening, the ad was pulled off Tanishq’s YouTube channel. Tanishq later cited “hurt sentiments and the well-being of their employees, partners and store staff” as the reason for pulling their communication.
But that did not end the outcry. The withdrawal of the ad provoked a different kind of backlash with people calling out Tanishq and its parent company the Tata Group, even Ratan Tata for NOT having a spine to stand up to trollers.
Writer Chetan Bhagat tweeted that he expected a Tata group company to be fairer and braver. “Don’t get bullied,” he advised Tanishq. Actor Swara Bhaskar – among others – called it a sad lack of spine by the Tata Group.
The withdrawal of the otherwise routine ad was disappointing for many. After all, it was not really making any political statement and was just another feel good effort to promote Hindu-Muslim unity.
Advertising often mimics society and in this case the Tanishq ad was clearly an effort to showcase religious unity which has been part and parcel of the Indian way of life for decades. Giving in to cyberbullying and social media noise over a seemingly positive message gives the message that the brand foresaw some actual loss of goodwill amidst customers. Either that or the jewellery brand anticipated the cyber bullying to translate into on-ground trouble for its employees and store staff.
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