By Nisha Susan
I’m a sucker but I love this ad.
Tanishq’s Mia jewellery targets young working women. I’ve seen a few of the earlier ads for this line and found them a bit blah. Certainly even the blah ones were different from Aishwarya Rai jumping off a cliff into yellow water, the daddy-does-long-distance OTT emotional blackmail one (with no jewellery) or the rhyming one with Anushka Sharma and SRK or the psychotic wedding videos. As the ‘making of the ad’ video inform you they were trying to keep it real. (Btw, ‘making of the ads’ ads running alongside the ads on Youtube, preceded by ads run by Youtube. It’s all getting a bit Inception for me)
The older Mia ads and this Bluestone ad are quite similiar in their outlook: Life is annoying but luckily you can buy yourself pretty things without too much hassle. They remind me of my friend D who was persuaded to have a meal with a young man. D’s parents were convinced that the man’s Rome address would impress her straight into marriage. D, 28, self-employed and sure of herself was startled but unafraid when she noticed that Suitable Boy was blatantly checking out her behind as they went down the escalator into the restaurant of his choice. He insisted on ordering her wine, ignoring her protests that she didn’t drink wine. She was a steady beer drinker but Suitable Boy was too busy showing her how liberal he was to pay attention.
Then began the Rorschach tests. Boy asked D (among other questions) what she did to perk herself up when she was depressed. D said guilelessly, “I buy something small.” Boy sat up, snapping out of his mildly letchy languor. Clearly, this was not a good portent. He asked her sternly. “What things?” D, by now uninterested in even making a minimal impact on the Boy but still polite, said, “shoes”. Boy growled, “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” D replied, “12”. Boy was enraged, clearly fast-forwarding into a life when this girl would be spending his money to cheer her frivolous self up. “You have 12 pairs of shoes! Who do you think you are? Tina Turner? At least she has hit records. She deserves 12 pairs of shoes.”
Neither D nor I ever pursued this line of research so we don’t know whether Tina has 12 pairs of shoes. D never saw the Boy again. Random men telling you how to spend your money is one thing but a Tina Turner reference a decade too late is unforgivable.
The new Mia ad takes ‘keeping it real’ seriously. It is a world in which women can buy their own jewellery, enjoy it and refused to be judged. It is an jewellery ad which says jewellery has its place in my world but it’s not central to my existence.
In the ad, the slightly older and super pleasant female boss tells Megha that her presentation looks great but maybe she should take her dangling earrings off to not distract the client. Megha takes them off, clearly feeling like crap for a few seconds, like we all have when we’ve been ambushed by other people’s strong opinions on our appearance or deportment. (Like the time I was running to catch a plane in Mumbai and an airport security official stopped me to tell me that my bra strap was showing.) Megha had clearly not been thinking about her jewellery until a second ago. Now, her boss has told her that ‘working late’ and making a good presentation was all likely to be eclipsed by her appearance. Far less benign versions of this exist in the lives of most working women — caught between the pressure to look good and the pressure to not look too good, we’ve all had some strange days and strange years.
What I like most about this ad is that the boss is not a cartoonish villain. Her demeanour is supportive. More importantly, her own appearance attests to what she believes: do not distract the client. The saree, the loose-sleeved blouse, her discreet jewellery are all elegant but they are also markers, she believes, of someone who is focussed on her job. She is not hassling Megha. She is passing on the wisdom of the woman at the workplace, that was, no doubt passed on, to her by someone else. Or more likely, the wisdom of being the very first woman at her workplace
But Megha makes the decision to keep the earrings on. In front of the client, the boss makes discreet gestures to her to take the earrings off. Megha is upfront: Don’t worry. My work is more beautiful than my earrings. Revolution! Megha kills the Beauty Myth. And no one was hurt in the process of making this commercial.