The Tanishq issue is not a moral commentary on respecting the role of advertising in a society but a wake up call about something which is playing deep with our thinking for the vested business interests of few.
Of course, the portrayal and intended messaging of Tanishq is absolutely not wrong. Of course, a progressive brand having a POV on culture is not wrong.
Of course, ASCI finding it not in violation of any code is not wrong. And lastly, Tata withdrawing the ad to protect its employee is not wrong.
No one is wrong! I don’t think this merits any debate at all.
There have been countless examples in advertising, where brands have expressed their POV on society, culture, humanity – Surf Excel, Red Label, Google, Fastrack, etc. These brands had all brought in a POV and hopefully made a large impact in our thinking. And they were right. What cinema used to do societies (and probably still does), advertising should and must do the same. Nothing wrong in it either.
But lately, there has been something drastically wrong. And we can easily fix this – the liberty and power that has been handed over to faceless, nameless, crass, abusive trolls by a few social media channels. The ones who fire up at anything and everything to get some thrills. This twisted mentality comes at the cost of people, lives, society, culture, and mental health. Yes, freedom of speech is crucial to our fundamental right, but the freedom to fire in a cache mode is not.
And it is a sick and a coward mind who triggers such conversations for some other innocent fellows to follow. Anonymous social media access has given them an easy handle to create such furore at the click of a button. And no real effort.
Tanishq was forced to pull down its advertisement featuring an inter-religious marriage, after much outrage from social media users. The controversy has sparked off conversations across media and advertising circles about the threat to freedom of creative expression.
But we can stop these misdirected frustrations of such faceless people. By introducing a stringent KYC on such social media sites. Social media is not just an entertainment corner now. It is manoeuvring people, transforming lives, selecting presidents, starting global movements and whatnot.
If Airbnb has made KYC mandatory for all users, why can’t giants like the Facebooks and Twitters of the world? They are providing more than bed and breakfast, and we spend more time on their websites than in any BnB.
The moment the twisted minds get a face, they will go back to their holes. And they can’t afford to get exposed, because then they will be publicly shamed. I wonder how many such trolls will ever come to be recognised and stand up to provide a valid explanation if asked.
The Tanishq issue is a great opportunity to propose and regulate some social media sites to make KYC mandatory to open an account. It might reduce the concealed business agenda of generating traffic, engagements for various brands, political leaders, influencers in the short term- but it will surely help these sites to stay credible, provide real quality engagement and metrics for many years to come. It’s their responsibility. It’s our responsibility. And it is not wrong.