New Delhi: In the latest Raymond suiting commercial, a young woman pauses at the doorway to her house and turns away in consternation when she sees her parents chatting with a man—a suitor for her probably. Her mother follows her outside and the two quarrel.
The daughter’s anger melts when the “Complete Man” helps lift her books, which drop to the ground when she brushes away her mother. Cut to the next scene. The couple is happily married and smiling after the arranged match.
The theme of marriages arranged by families resonates in some other commercials, too, that are currently on air across television channels, coinciding with the wedding season, spanning products ranging from pizza (Domino’s) to paints, (Asian Paints). The willingness with which the couples in the ads accept the concept of arranged matches is a departure from ads of the past that celebrated the rebellious streak of the young.
“It is a classic-contemporary mindset approach the brand is taking which is not modern per se,” said Mrinmoy Mukherjee, director of marketing and business development (retail) at Raymond Ltd. “The concept of modern arranged marriages is alive since individuals are keen to ensure that marriage is given the right kind of support (from parents and the rest of the immediate family).”
To be sure, parents arranging the marriages of their progeny after completing rituals such as matching the horoscopes and deciding the wedding gifts to be exchanged is an age-old concept in Indian society. Popular media such as films, however, have traditionally plugged love and romance as the bedrock of marriage and the concept has been borrowed by other media such as advertising. Marital union usually takes place in the teeth of parental opposition.
Dheeraj Sinha, chief strategy officer (South and South-East Asia) at advertising agency Grey Worldwide, would have you believe that today’s youngsters are toeing the family line as far as arranged matches go.
“Gone are the days of Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla running away to the hills to get married,” Sinha said, referring to the 1988 Bollywood box-office hit Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. “Young India has become very practical. Affairs may be fine, but any marriage must have the parents’ consent. They do not want to go against their parents.”
K.V. Sridhar, national creative director at advertising agency Leo Burnett, agreed. “Ninety per cent of Indians have arranged marriages. One cannot dispute this fact and as advertising is getting more real, it is only natural to pick the real insights around marriages than a fictitious Bollywood rebel love marriages,” Sridhar said.
At match-making website Shaadi.com, registrations by people looking for spouses are increasing by 30-35% year-on- year although most of the profiles are posted by the would-be husband or wife rather than their parents. Sixty-five per cent of the users are male. The website has three million active members, aged between 21 and 35 years.
“Love marriage is more of a hope. People nowadays are more happy to be in control of the process. There is more pragmatism for the idea of arranged marriages,” said Gourav Rakshit, chief operating officer of Shaadi.com.
Take the case of the commercial by Platinum Guild International, which is the lobby group for platinum producers and plugs jewellery fashioned out of the metal. The ad explores the idea of love post marriage in an arranged alliance. The commercial shows a newly married woman preparing to visit her parents and depicts the anxiety of separation between the young couple. “It resonates well with the Indian audience because that is the norm,” said Vaishali Banerjee, country manager, India, Platinum Guild International. “But that’s not to say that the advertisement is only for those seeking an arranged marriage.”
For brands then to showcase arranged marriages is becoming relevant. Harneet Singh Rajpal, vice-president (marketing) at Domino’s, owned by Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd, did not comment directly on why the pizza brand showed a couple in an arranged marriage scenario in its new commercial. He said: “Marriage is a key relationship that we love and honour, and it followed into the brand’s folklore of advertising”, which centres around relationships. The commercial, with the tagline Yeh Hai Rishton Ka Time (this is the time for relationships) shows a newly married couple on their honeymoon. There is a certain formality about their interaction that gradually fades away as they discover more about each other through vignettes about the wife’s premarital life. Culturally the belief and desire for marriages to be family-inclusive is still predominant. “Plus parents are happy to be part of the celebration and pay for it, so why not?” said Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive officer at brand consultancy Futurebrands. Additionally, weddings as an occasion in India is a high point of consumption, so targeting the occasion and the individuals involved makes sense. “Wedding spends have been growing every year so it makes sense for brands to be part of the occasion,” said Desai.
The promoters of HT Media Ltd, which publishes the Hindustan Times and Mint, and Jubilant FoodWorks are closely related. There are no promoter cross-holdings.