An ad recently published in The Hindu for the luxury brand Kalyan Jewellers has sparked a controversy over colonialism, racism, child-labour and slave-fantasies as well as over public image projection and accountability. The depiction of movie-star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the fashion of a European colonial-era aristocrat, bejeweled, poised and shaded from the sun by an undernourished black child-slave, has prompted the outrage of several feminist and child rights activists as expressed in an open letter to Rai Bachchan and Kalyan Jewellers. The authors equally draw attention to the racist implications of the slave fantasy depicted in the advertisement by referencing the colonial heritage of comparable historic portraitures and to the romanticisation of child servitude. While Kalyan Jewellers promptly issued an apology and withdrew the image, Rai Bachchan’s publicist declared the final layout featuring the black child-slave was edited without the actress’ knowledge and consent and thus only the responsibility of the brand’s creative team. The activists countered by questioning this statement and Rai Bachchan’s alleged lack of control over her own public image. They demand Rai Bachchan to take a clear stand, both as an icon and in her role as UN Ambassador, against racism and the trivialization of servitude as well as take full responsibility for the commercialization of her public image projection.
There is a power shift in the portrayal of couples in brand marketing.
By Sunaina Kumar
Open Magazine, 10 November 2014
Of all media, advertising most likes to view men and women, especially women, as stock characters. The woman is usually circumscribed to the kitchen or bedroom—as the nitpicky housewife, the sacrificial mother, or the sexpot. It’s old hat to discuss advertising stereotypes. But, apart from selling products, sometimes advertising shows us the way we lead our lives, or the way we ought to. A series of commercials on television seem to be changing the contours of the most frequently used trope in advertising, that of the married couple.
Link to the article: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/second-sex-hang-on