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Unfair And Not-So-Lovely: Indian Advertisements That Scream Stereotypes

When a company promotes its product on different forms of media (electronic, print, and digital) to do marketing, it’s called advertising. We watch ads on television, listen to them on the radio and come across them in the newspaper. There is a message in every ad and they’re known to have a massive impact on society.

What’s a stereotype? A set idea that people have about what someone or something is like. Most ads are stereotypes giving a stereotypical message to the audience, which in my opinion is wrong. Consequently, society starts following and accepting that notion assuming it to be the culture of the society. Advertisements can be one of the best tools for changing society. But instead of giving out the right message most of the ads convey a stereotypical message.

Indian Ads Which Personify Stereotypes

Johnson’s Baby And Other Baby Products

A screengrab from an ad.

Johnson’s Baby is a brand that makes baby products. But in most of the ads, only the mother is shown taking care of the child. For example, when it is a soap product, the mother bathes the child, or when it is an oil product, the mother massages the baby. It is like only a mother is responsible for child-rearing, and the father plays no role in taking care of the infant.

Isn’t it a stereotype? Do women always hold the responsibility of taking care of a child? Why is it that the men are never home in these advertisements? A father is as much responsible as a mother. Showing only a mother is taking care of her baby is a stereotype. 

Also, they only feature babies with a fair complexion. This is one of the biggest stereotypes in India. They promote the idea that only fair kids are cute, which is totally wrong. There is already discrimination based on skin colour in this country. Ads should change these stereotypes but instead, they are encouraging them. Resultantly, people in rural areas do not buy these products thinking they are not meant for them.

Kinder Joy

Kinder Joy Ad.

Kinder joy is a  chocolate product, which is currently famous among children. In the advertisement for this product, they show a pink kinder joy package for the girl and a blue one for the boy. Moreover, the gifts opened by the girl are generally barbie dolls, rings, kitchen related kits, sewing machines, and others which are considered to be enjoyed by girls only. And for boys, they put gifts like cars, superheroes, airplanes, transformers, and so on.

These ads exploit the idea that colour preferences should be gender-based. If a boy happens to like the colour pink, he will be teased. They try to imply that girls should play with Barbie dolls and kitchen kits because they are supposed to do that in the future, whereas boys are entitled to be free and drive around and are strong and powerful like superheroes.

Fair & Lovely And Other Fairness Products

Ads for fairness products.

Fair and Lovely advertisements are probably the most stereotypical,  with slogans like, “best ever nikhar” and “fairness in 7 days”, “fairness cream”, and so on. That shows that all girls should be fair to look beautiful and confident; which implies that girls who have darker skin tone are not confident or are not good looking. There is a similar product called Fair and Handsome for men, delivering the same message. 

The adverse effects of these ads are seen prominently in this era. Every girl wants to look fair because that’s become her idea of beauty too. Society calls a fair girl beautiful. These ads demotivate people with a darker skin tone. There are so many creams, soaps, face wash ads,  which have stereotypical scripts for advertisements. They always consider that beauty lies in fairness, and fair skin tone is the key to one’s confidence.


A man driving a car in an Indian ad

Most of the advertisements related to cars or automobiles feature only men as drivers. Implying a car is something which is only meant for men, and that they are the target audience is again a stereotype. A woman is hardly seen driving in an advertisement. Why? Can’t women drive? Can’t they buy a car?


Stereotypical ads for home appliances.

Home-appliance ads like those of refrigerators, washing machines, mixture grinders,  exhibit only females to be the consumers. This conveys the message that women are meant to be in the kitchen and do all those chores. Even if there are men in some ads, they never seem to use the products. They are mostly seen standing with their wives, who are the ones using those appliances. This gives a stereotypical message to the audience that, yes females are made for this and males are meant for that.

These stereotypes should not be broadcast because they are the biggest contributors to discrimination based on gender, skin tone, etc.

You must be to comment.
  1. Rumpa Pal

    Breaking the stereotype:
    As said and repeated, Indian ad industry is stereotype. Starting from fair and lovely ad to driving a car by a male.
    Agree, these were once very prominent as a part of sales strategy. But have you made an effort to look how the industry is changing. Though it is slow, but visible.

    Pressure cooker ad: Mr. Pankaj Tripathi advertising the product.

    Car ad: There has been an ad where the female is driving and her parents are accompanying her. She collects the courage to ask her parents for child adoption and they approve.

    Sanitary pad ad: A father understanding the needs of his daughter and buys her sanitary pads.

    Red label tea ad: 2 old age male friends talk and make tea. Not a stereotype though.

    As these ads are breaking the earlier laws made by us to rise and shine.

    If you want to bring change in the society show the positive side of the article. Showing negative side will only promote it.
    As said, if you repeat a thing again and again, it seems to be true. So even if you not comfortable with few customs, then show the good side. Showing the negative view will not make it true in the coming days.

    I do not intend to hurt anybody’s feelings. These are my own thought and highlighted the same.

    1. ekta Shukla

      Hey rumpa hope you are doing well, I am agreed whatever you are saying. And also I have seen all those advertisement what you are saying. But it is just starting of breaking stereotype. And those ads which u have taken are most affected ads, that’s why I have just mentioned these ads, also because of highlights of negative part of ads made them to break the stereotype. If nobody will highlight negative parts, ad industry will not bother to break stereotypes ads.
      Also because of these ads I have seen so many people are affecting, mostly the gender based and fair look.
      Gender based is still continues in rural area,s
      And for fair look you also may be knowing few girls who wants to look fair just for beautiful looks and to be confident.
      I am agreed with your opinion and I will now try to highlight a positive parts of advertisement.
      Thanks for your opinion it was good to understand the second part of advertisement.

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