Gender-bender

Reviewer: Priti Nair

Priti Nair, director of Curry-Nation, has more than 22 years of experience in advertising. She has worked on campaigns for brands such as Surf Excel and Clinic All Clear.

Campaign

The latest ad by Taproot for telecom company Bharti Airtel Ltd is about a surge in the adoption of data services owing to the increasing use of smartphones. The ad, a contemporary take on marriage and relationships, shows a female boss talking to her subordinates about an urgent assignment that needs to be finished the same day. A man argues that it’s not possible. She apologizes but asks them to get cracking. A while later, she leaves the office, goes home and starts cooking a nice meal. She then video-calls her husband from her smartphone and asks him to come home—that’s when the viewer realizes that the man in the office was her husband. The message: Smartphones can bring a little magic to everyday life.

What are your first thoughts on the ad?

It stands out as a film. I was impressed that it seeks to explore a rather new-age equation. I loved the casting, really fresh faces and nice, controlled performances.

What would you have done differently?

I would have perhaps had the product role in a little more meaningfully. That is a bit diluted. With the kind of people they have shown, I am sure they could have done something more with the technology than sharing a food video.

Given the social media criticism that the ad is suggestive of gender bias, what’s your take?

What gender bias? That the woman/wife is the boss? How is that a bias? It is gender equality. For years we have only shown the boss as a man or a husband (who) works and the wife cooks. Husband comes home tired, wife plays maid. It’s high time that one should change that. In fact, I am of the belief that large brands should, as a mandate, use their equity to improvise on social conditions or cultural regression by exploring more progressive situations and relationships. This one is doing that. I am glad someone is showing other, more interesting facets of marriage. And believe me, they exist, only not in the open.

Any other ad in the telecom sector that has high recall value in your view?

The one I still love and can watch over and over again in this sector is the Airtel kanjoos friend ad: “Missed call diya hai,phonekarenge (I’ve given them a missed call, they’ll call back)."

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