It's time for Agnello Dias to resign from advertising, so one would believe by the comments on social media and the criticism of the new Airtel TVC in blog posts and reviews.
For example, on Firstpost, my colleague Deepanjana Pal took it to the cleaners, using as supports in her criticism the twitter celebrity @GabbbarSingh who calls it 'fkin stupid' and Sudarshan Banerjee (@additiyom), who calls the ad regressive.
I was late to the party, being down with an unusually aggressive 'flu, and, by the time I saw the TVC, the comments were flying in thick and fast, almost all of them taking Taproot, the creative agency behind the work, to the cleaners.
I looked at the TVC once, twice and three times, struggling to find fault with it.
Not going in a linear fashion, but with the benefit of having watched the whole TVC, I see a woman manager, whose husband reports to her. Nothing wrong with that. She wants a job completed and asks her husband, the subordinate, to work overtime and complete it, while she goes home. Nothing wrong with that, either. She reaches home, and switches from boss mode to home-maker mode - nothing wrong with that either. Millions of women do it every day, as do millions of men, from boss mode to husband/father/son mode. In her wife mode, she misses her husband and wants him to come home quickly. Nothing wrong with that.
Where's the problem?
The problem is, everyone's today an expert on advertising. If the Vodafone pug ad had been created today, we'd have debates on the choice of breed. Why a pug, which is so unusual. Why not an Alsatian, a Labrador, or even a Spaniel, far more common breeds?
All that the Airtel TVC represents is a competent ad - that's all. In addition, there are elements that raise the TVC beyond competent. The casting of the woman as the boss is brilliant, down to her short, easy to manage hair, her choice of sari as opposed to western outfits (think woman heads of banks in India) and so on. The fact that women in the work-place are growing in both number and in power and position is beautifully reflected.
Most importantly, the choice that the working Indian woman makes today - and it is a choice - of taking responsibility for the house as well as her arduous job, is common and not at all schizophrenic. It is a reflection of what we see in urban India today. Things might change in the future, but Taproot has held up a mirror on the India we live in.
I'm surprised by the criticism from ad types such as Addityom or near ad types such as GabbbarSingh, because advertising is replete with women who work like beavers and rush home after work to host a party.
They do so not because they are subservient or schizophrenic, but because they enjoy being the hostess with the mostest, they enjoy being praised for their home-making and cooking skills - as much as they revel in finding their names in the credits of a good ad.
Good for Airtel, though. Lots of conversation about a common-or-garden variety of ad. And my piece will add to the conversation.
Updated Date: Jul 31, 2014 10:51:29 IST