Smriti Irani Condemns the Advertising Sector For Its Representation of Women In Advertisements

Smriti Irani Condemns the Advertising Sector For Its Representation of Women In Advertisements

By: WE Staff | Friday, 10 June 2022

The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) announced guidelines yesterday at an event to protect against negative gender stereotypes in advertisements. Smriti Zubin Irani, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, was also in attendance, and she questioned why it took the advertising sector so long to produce recommendations on detrimental gender stereotypes in advertisements.

Irani further stated that it is past time for women in the advertising sector to stand forward.

Irani questioned the advertising and marketing industry's emphasis placed on character, safety, and security, as well as how a woman is perceived in society. She said, “If you think we are of value then you will not need these guidelines. The fact that in 2022 we needed to come up with guidelines against harmful gender stereotyping is an indication that women are not valued truly within the industry. Then how will it create value outside the industry? The time for incremental change is over because we have lost much in this wait.”

Only three ASCI members attended the event, despite the fact that the organisation has over 800 members. Irani then questioned the sincerity of the members who were unable to attend the occasion. She said, “That is where the change needs to begin. If your members do not deem these guidelines important enough to be present here and support the organisation that means the change has to start from home. We need to contact the absent 797 members of ASCI and reflect on why their absence speaks louder than their presence on paper. If we can address this issue, I think the real change will begin.”

The advertising industry, according to the growth of women-led consumption of products and services and the rise of internet penetration in rural India, needs to take the issue more seriously.

Irani said, “80% of FMCG buying decisions are done by women in our country. There are 57% and 34% of female internet users in urban and rural India, respectively. We have 294 million internet users in urban India and 356 million users in rural India, which means there is more consumption of internet in rural India and 800 members of ASCI are missing. Pointing this out to just reflect on the situation.”

Recently, an ad for the fragrance brand Layer'r Shot sparked outrage for being "misogynistic" and "promoting rape culture," and was quickly removed from all digital channels.

In response to the ad, Irani stated that when money is at the forefront, gender is a subject that no one wants to discuss. “Behind the deodorant ad (Layer’r Shot ad) that was pulled down, there was an agency, a writer, a director, an actor, a TV and radio channel, and an internet service that gained from it financially.”

Irani began her career as an actress in a sanitary pad commercial before becoming a politician. She said, “But now when I switch on the television, I see the ad ‘Men will be men’ and have to work in my office to get a deodorant ad off the television.”

She also mentioned that when placing adverts in material, one must consider the sensitivity of the subject. Explaining the same, Irani said, “Why do advertisers need to tap into news items that are political, of social intent, speak about a tragedy and place women undergarment ads in it. Those are ad placements that are inconvenient and need to be spoken about.”

She concluded, “Releasing guidelines around gender representation is a very small step. A long journey awaits us.”