Some TV and print adverts are fresh, creative, progressive, amusing and even harbingers of positive social change. Others, not so much… While there are those who take risks and try to change existing social perceptions in small, subtle ways, others are content to cement stereotypes, create ads that follow clichéd, predictable, and regressive patterns. After all, advertisers have to follow social expectations and cannot afford to antagonize their audiences, it is argued:

Yeh toh bada toing hai



So women must wash clothes; particularly men’s undergarments (with the rather snigger worthy name Amul Macho) while other women stare. Plus the woman must get incredibly turned on while washing those selfsame UGs. And then there is the inexplicable (now iconic) tag line Yeh toh bada toing hai…. This ad is so bad I developed a sneaking admiration for the brain that came up with it.


Clean and dry

Not just is this a useless product (promises to keep women clean, dry and fair down there; go figure), the ad is frankly nauseous too. The animated version of a woman’s privates changes from brownish to whitish; she changes from sad and ignored to happy and cherished. Can we say Ugh?


Gift a maid



So this one is sexist, classist and feudal! Lovely! Here the working woman is commodity to be gifted to another so she will do the menial chores that neither she nor her husband want to do. Apparently there is a website called that thinks this ad is not offensive.


Fat free something or the other



I don’t know what this ad is for and don’t care; but puke worthy it certainly is. See the husband warned her not to put on too much weight and ‘lose her figure’. So now the naughty girl must consume some ‘ayurvedic’ weight loss pills so she can be husband-worthy again. Cringe!


Every Fairness Creme Ad



She is sad and dark; then happy and fair. She is dark and unsuccessful; then fair and successful. She is dark and ignored; then she is fair and noticeable. The list goes on….


Pretty much every men’s deo ad



The guys are (mostly) scrawny, unattractive and forgettable; the women are all stunning. Add a random men’s deo to the mix and the former becomes irresistible to the latter. Ho hum.


Freedom of choice (to choose jewelry)



Yay for proscribing youth freedoms! And yay for women who are permitted to choose their jewelry! The makers of the ad clearly thought they were appealing to the nonexistent demographic who thinks that choosing jewelry is much more important than choosing a husband.


Marriage worthy



This fat loss clinic ad firstly tells us that marriage is not only desirable, but that it is the end all and be all of a woman’s life. Also it tells us how it is only right that a woman is valued for her waist size. The ad also tells us about some bogus weight loss plan which is either a lie, wildly dangerous or both.


Be a man!

What kind of a man are you if you watch soaps and use ‘female’ shampoo (it is inexplicable why men and women have to use different shampoos)! If you do this, you’re a ‘mere’ woman! God forbid! This is the ad equivalent of the choodiyan pehan lo ‘insult’.  Because if you watch football again you are a man and your wife will luuuuurve you!


Be racist, it’s OK!



Thankfully Kalyan jewelers quickly realized how racist, elitist and generally insulting this ad is and pulled it. But I have to ask whoever made the ad: nothing struck you as you made this demeaning, regressive ad that cements all the racial and class stereotypes in India and elsewhere?


Author – Reena Daruwalla