The one thing I’ve noticed in 2013 is just how quickly trends are cementing into standardized practices. A couple years ago, you’d see trends last a couple of years before being the norm; before that, it would take a good three to five years. Today, trends seem to be moving at lightening speed. What was a trend a couple months ago, is now already the new standard of doing things. Take advertising for instance. Earlier this year I talked about a new marketing trend for small business owners – one that encouraged a personal narrative highlighting the individual business owner. The idea was to develop a business marketing video that focused on your personality and your life, with the product or service being secondary. While that’s still the go-to strategy for small business and now already the norm, big business has evolved and cemented the concept for a larger scale: change the entire course of the industry’s conversation about the product.
It starts with India’s Tanishq jewelers. Hailed as wonderfully controversial and taboo-busting, the ad features a bride in non-traditional Indian bridal wear (a demure blush nude versus red or bright colors) clearly getting ready for her wedding day. We see that she’s nervous, uncertain, but anxious at the same time. We then see a little girl in the doorway, her daughter, who she ushers in to share a special mother-daughter moment with before the wedding. At the ceremony, the little girl gestures to her mother to be part of the ceremony of walking around the fire; the mother quickly quiets her. At this point we see the new stepdad pausing and calling the little girl over, before picking her up and looking back at his new appreciative bride for the heart-warming gesture – all before they continue on their way, together, to complete the ceremony.
Here’s why the ad works – and why it’s been so hugely successful that it’s not only been a hit in India but has also gone viral in the U.S.
- Using Cultural Cues. The opening sequence traditional wedding music gives away that this is a wedding scene.
2. Redefining the Narrative. Everything from not using a culturally coveted fair-skinned model (but instead using someone that looks like a believably South Asian), to sticking with a demure tone of wedding attire, lays the ground work for the narrative their shifting – that a second marriage for an Indian woman is a welcomed move.
Drawing on the first point here, the ad actually utilizes cultural cues to help strengthen their message. That the bride to be is demurely dressed, and even warmly anxious (displayed through traditional nonverbal cues), helps portray her as a modest and unexploited figure; there’s nothing threatening or provocative about her, and that helps the message get accepted by a broader audience – many of whom will have undoubtedly found this a big pill to swallow. Minister of Parliament, Naveen Jindal, was not of those. Wildly approving of the ad, the MP congratulated Tanishq Jewelry in a tweet hailing the ad as “breaking stereotypes with grace and power.”
3. Targeting the Message. By shifting the focus away from the glitz and glamour that comes with a traditional Indian bride, the ad is able to focus on the message which in this case is the wedding itself – more to point, a second wedding. As Adweek perfectly captures it, “in a nation where widowed and divorced women have historically been treated as outcasts, the theme of the spot—a woman’s second marriage, to a man who treats both her and her daughter with love and respect—is not only revolutionary. It is crazy bold.”
The takeaway here is to recognize that it’s not enough for your product to tell a story (that’s so last year). The new standard of advertising involves redirecting the dominating narrative. Do this by considering your product. Consider the convention around it. Now consider what stories are being told about it. Your job is to find the gap, identify the weakness, and challenge it.
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