I had brought a ‘kinder joy’ chocolate for my niece. But she didn’t like it and threw it away. I knew she always liked it. Without giving me seconds to think and ask, she yelled at me, “Don’t you know, it’s for boys. Why didn’t you bring a pink one?” Then, I realized that she likes ‘kinder joy’ not particularly for the taste, but for the gift inside. But what made me wonder is how did she know that ‘pink’ is for girls and ‘blue’ is for boys.
I always knew that mass media influences markets and customers in big ways. That’s why corporate spent millions in creating and repeatedly broadcasting commercials in national media. But that was the day I realized how powerful it is.
This incident made me aware as a consumer and as an informed citizen. I started observing commercials from different perspectives such as how they influence children, family structures, and division of work as per gender etc. I was watching a commercial on a national TV channel by Max Life Insurance. The commercial was showcasing the real people (not the actors) who were their agents and how they were guiding people to buy the right kind of insurance plans for a secure and better future.
The agent was proudly sharing how it’s important to be prepared for your son’s education and daughter’s wedding as these two are the most crucial responsibilities of parents apart from securing their retiring life by buying pension plans.
I watched thrice, to assure myself about what I was thinking is not overly sensitive. It’s the reality of the world around us. Parents give importance to their son’s studies and are always worried about the daughter’s marriage. Their son’s education matters as they would be the future caretaker of parents in their old age, whereas daughters (as per the age-old saying “beti paraya dhan hoti he”) will leave parents and go to another family.
Our culture also shames those parents who expect anything in return from their daughters. It’s popularly told by many that ‘drinking water from daughter’s marital home is also prohibited in our culture.’ So it’s obvious for parents to invest more in their sons’ future than daughters.’
When my mother passed away and my father became dependent on me, I realized that I had not saved enough to support him. I bought policies like accident/death insurance, pension plans for me. But I had never thought of buying pension plans for my parents. They spent all their savings on my education, wedding, and well-being. They never saved for their retiring life.
When I started working, they forced me to buy these policies, and I did. I realized that how these commercials I watched had subconsciously made me choose only these policies and no policies for my parents’ retiring lives. That incident made me understand the bias these commercials create and re-establish the hidden and untold gender norms of society.
So, I am going to review the most viewed insurance commercials by all companies regularly in my upcoming posts and would request everyone to keep an eye on my channel, to read the review of the commercials that you all are watching on different platforms. It’s important to know how these commercials are shaping our point of view in life and impacting our relationships with the women in our lives.