The ad film opens on a soft-focus bridal stage. The camera pans down, showcasing the stage in pink hues with flowers decorated tastefully. As it pans towards the bride, it pauses to romance the jewellery on her forehead. A small glint of light makes you marvel at the craftsmanship of the jewels. The bride smiles, and the nose ring comes into focus. The camera lazily pans across an expansive neck piece that she is wearing. The diamonds and rubies are showcased as the camera goes closer. After romancing her lehenga in all its glory, the camera focuses on the bride’s hand as she raises it to a dance move. The camera slowly pans across from her arm band to expensive and well-crafted bangles and rings. The bride then hugs her parents with a small teardrop in the corner of her eye… she might even say ‘I love you, Mom and Dad’.
While watching the ad, the viewer too has a lump in the throat and is left with the feeling that this is how weddings should happen. Clearly, according to jewellery brands, weddings are about luxury, lifestyle, decor and obviously expensive jewellery. This formula of advertising for wedding jewellery hasn’t changed for the last 30 years. It has only become more decadent, as settings get grander and grander.
USE THE POWER OF TV
Television is a powerful story-teller. Brands can use the power of TV to either strengthen behaviour or drive change. Jewellery advertising has been peddling the same socio-cultural images for many years. There is a valid argument for the decadence that brands showcase. The brand has the right to push higher value and drive profitability.
Let’s look at this from another lens. If jewellery brands have the right to push higher value, so do fairness creams and soaps. For many years, they drove the insecurity Indians have about dark skin. They made dark skin into a curse. In the initial days of the brands, the narrative was all about girls not being able to find grooms as they were dark-skinned. Today, brands have been forced to drop the fairness promise and move to newer promises. However, even the fairness cream brands did read the changing societal demands and did build stories about success and achievement. Even talcum powders moved to achievement-driven narratives for young ladies.
NEED FOR CHANGE
This is where the jewellery brands have been tone deaf. I am sure they do enough market research to know what is happening in society. Yes, weddings have gone from grand to grander. I’d say weddings have gone from senseless to massive waste of money.
There is enough data available to know that young girls today do not think that their lives revolve around getting married. Their world revolves around getting educated, finding their calling, and often pushing weddings to priority level 2.
This is where jewellery brands need to change. As change-drivers, they can become much bigger than what they are right now. They can drive a massive societal change.
This is what I would like to see: a jewellery commercial that doesn’t build mindless decadence but celebrates the girl who has taken the call to get married. If there is something that girls do as service to mankind, then it’s taking their own call to get married. By doing so, they transform themselves, their families and eventually the whole society.
Why is it that jewellery brands can't see this beyond showcasing what they make? Imagine what they can collectively stand for. Maybe the next jewellery commercial will not open on a luxurious decadent setting, but inside a place of worship where there is a simple ceremony being held, where the bride is the one who is in focus.
I do live in hope.
(The author is Co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle)