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Ranjani Krishnaswamy, general manager, marketing, Titan Co. Ltd, is both passionate and proud of the communication around Tanishq, the jewellery brand in their stable. The company, which has been increasing its digital media spends over the past two years, launched a new film last week.

The three-minute-long digital film rides on the ongoing wedding season to promote its engagement rings through an ad shorn off the characteristic flashy wedding lights and cameras. Instead, it allows a peek into honest discussions three couples are engaged in over mental health, adoption and entrepreneurship, prior to tying the knot.

The film is topical as there are 2.2 million weddings in India between mid-November and mid-December. Tanishq, as a brand, said Krishnaswamy, always finds progressive narratives centered around women and the canvas they engage in, including all the personal moments they celebrate with a piece of jewellery.

“When we celebrate the progressive bride, let’s also celebrate the honest conversations that couples should have around marriage," she said on the new ad.

The new narrative, however, makes one wonder if Tanishq is playing safe this year with this ad after last year’s fiasco with its Ekatvam film brutally trolled for showcasing an inter-faith marriage with a Muslim family celebrating the traditional baby shower for their daughter-in-law. The brand was accused of hurting religious sentiments as people called for a ban on the ad and a boycott of the jewellery brand. The company withdrew the film citing hurt sentiments as well as concerns over the safety of its employees, partners and store staff.

The new film may be relevant but watchful of not entering any controversial zone. (Like Dabur’s October film on a lesbian couple observing karwa chauth, that, again, had the brand scurrying for cover).

But Tanishq has got a thumbs up from experts. “Tanishq is doing the right thing and playing safe for sure. But it is getting people to talk possibly about the most important basics in a marriage—the meeting of minds," said brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor. It’s not about the venue, flowers or guests but positioned right as an engaging brand. “It steers clear of religion, religious practice and politics," he added.

Companies and brands will be far more circumspect in the current sociopolitical climate with some issues almost guaranteed to provoke trolling, said Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting. But Tanishq’s new film holds up quite well in bringing up a socially-sensitive, yet relevant issue with a much lower risk of “offending" anyone, he said.

With growing intolerance, experts see this becoming a trend. Brands will maintain the limits of their conversations. They will respect their non-target audiences in mass media as much as they must, said Bijoor.

Krishnaswamy said Tanishq introduces a thought starter every quarter—a campaign that sets the tone and is in sync with where consumer sentiments lie.

She doesn’t deny that last year’s thought starter—Ekatvam—took an unfortunate turn. “We live in a world which is sort of—I wouldn’t use the word “polarized" because that is over-indexed—but a world which is highly opinionated. I think we have always lived in a world like that but today there are avenues for opinions to be expressed freely—some responsibly, some not so responsibly," she said.

As a brand Tanishq always wanted to be inclusive, showing an imagined world which is really aspirational for a lot of people. A world that is progressive, that doesn’t divide but unites people, she said.

“While Ekatvam was a philosophy borne out of that, we all know what happened. I wouldn’t dwell on that because it’s a work we are quite proud of. But we are also mindful that sometimes narratives can be misconstrued," Krishnaswamy said.

This year, the jewellery retailer has systems in place so that it constantly puts in more “rigour" into the listening it is doing and be “absolutely certain" that at no point it disrespects any sentiment.

Of course, listening to the consumer was always part of the brand ethos, but the diversity of thought is more challenging now for brands to be more inclusive for a larger number of people.

Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing and advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.

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