Guilt Appeal – An Ad Trend


Guilt Appeal – An Ad Trend

Advertisements shift from stereotyping to normalising

Guilt Appeal – An Ad Trend

New Delhi: Recently there has been a noticeable shift in the advertising trends. Big brands have been adapting to a similar pattern of shifting from stereotyping to normalising. These are the same brands that stereotyped the concepts of gender, beauty and fashion for years to sell their products in the market.

However, now the guilt appeal seems to trend the market. Are brands really guilty? Are they really willing to bring a change in society?

We all feel guilty about something, whether it's gender equality or  stereotyping the concepts of beauty. However, for brands, guilt can be  a very desirable emotion as it is an effective way to attract consumer attention, sell products or even change the way people behave.

The book ‘Guilt Trip’, co-written by Alex Hesz, account director at  DDB, and Bambos Neophytou, head of planning at Exposure, claims that  guilt has taken over from fear as a dominant human emotion. It states that businesses need to adapt their marketing and communication to tap into this shift.

Brands like Mankind, selling prega-news, have been stereotyping the concept of pregnancy by depicting that getting pregnant is always a piece of good news to a woman. The brand, with a tagline that says “prega-news means good news”, is now coming up with ad-campaigns that tend to normalise women not getting pregnant and that motherhood is not restricted to a particular gender.

Titan Raga celebrated the ‘Woman of today’ in an empowering  advertisement. They showed us a strong and an independent woman who is  capable of making her own life choices. She has aspirations and is not  afraid to take control of her life in her hands.

Cosmetic brands like Dove & Lux are trying to rise above the  pre-existing notions of beauty. Lux, which portrayed celebrities as  the ultimate definition of beauty, has now launched campaigns like  “Lux Defying Judgements”.

Kamla Bhasin, a developmental feminist, activist, poet, author and social scientist said that she is happy that brands are recognising that their consumer base includes people from all genders. She also mentioned that big brands are concerned about the buying portion of  the population, and all they care about is sales. She added that the  brands have realised that modern women are capable of making their  decisions on their own.

Kamla Bhasin

“Jaha se paisa ayega, brands wahi ke geet gayenge (The brands will  sing whichever song gets them money),” Bhasin said. Women are more likely to buy their products from a brand that empowers them, and not stereotype them,” she added.

Renowned fashion brands like Zara, H&M and Moschino have also been taking part in this trend. Zara released its ‘Ungendered’ collection, and more recently H&M followed suit with its unisex ‘Denim United’  range. The response wasn’t as good.

‘Ad-Man’ Ninad Umargekar, founder of Onewall, said that conversation is the biggest currency. He said that brands are a reflection of how society is. According to him, the brands are picking up this trend just to be in  the conversation. He further added that some of these are nothing but ad gimmicks and that gender-neutral clothing is an example of the same as women’s bodies and men’s bodies are built differently by nature.

Ninad Umargekar

Barbie has been guilty of stereotyping over the years, furthering the ‘pinkification of little girls’ toys. The brand recently collaborated with Moschino and promoted an ad that featured a little boy playing with the doll wearing black clothes, aiming to celebrate the fact that all genders love Barbie and that the doll is not just restricted to wearing pink clothes.

In a conversation with CitySpidey, Anjali Gopalan, a human rights and animal rights activist, and founder and executive director of The Naz  Foundation Trust said that these are market forces at play and it’s not the brands or the advertisers that are affected by the guilt. The  brand trends are changing and responding because there is a need for them to respond, and this need is created by the market.

Anjali Gopalan

This is how big brands are changing their stances and are now not hesitating to shift from stereotyping to normalising. However, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues for long or not. The brands have raked in the moolah through their long tested strategies of stereotyping. It is definitely going to be interesting to see the future trends.