Tanishq Ekatvam – Anatomy of the Campaign!

When you read this, I am sure you will be familiar with the latest product of the “Outrage factory” in India. Tanishq, Tata’s crowning jewel other than TCS provided the raw material this time. The outrage was around an ad which was put out to kick off its new Ekatvam campaign. The company soon pulled down the ad bowing down to the social media outrage but not before it went viral and divided popular opinion.

As a standalone ad, (see here) I personally liked it. The story is consistent with the purported theme of the campaign, where “the beauty of oneness” was being promoted. Oneness in this case was conveyed through the coming together of Hindu and Muslim faiths after a marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man in this case.

There was predictable outrage following the ad where many questions like “Will they show a marriage of a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy?” and “Why are they showing as if the Muslim parents were doing a favour by following the girl’s traditions” and so on. I am certain that if the ad was shown as above, there would have been exactly opposite questions. Newton’s third law – “For every action is there is an equal and opposite reaction” and Whataboutery are the cornerstones of today’s outrage factory.

My take on the ad itself is that it was a well thought out plan. The campaign was launched during IPL just ahead of the festivals which is peak season for brands like Tanishq. And during this period and particularly during IPL, it is important to cut the clutter. One way of doing it is to make a nice commercial but with a contrarian story line. It helps the ad to stand out and also ensures it goes viral. That’s what happened with the Tanishq ad. Today for most marketers, the starting point of a campaign is to make it “Go viral” and if it does, it is the ultimate take away for the bucks spent.  So, kicking off a controversy through the ad is one established method of making it go viral. Many companies in the past have done that and Tanishq is no exception. I had written about this in one of my earlier posts “Stir up to sell” and if you haven’t read that, please do read here.

It is unfortunate that the company decided to pull down the ad. At the same time, it is easy to criticize the Tatas for succumbing to social media pressure in taking that decision. But I believe that it was a pragmatic choice. Already the business is reeling under the after effects of Covid with showrooms just being opened up. And the peak season is just ahead of the company. At this time, it makes no sense to do grandstanding risking the safety of its retail staff and properties.

At the same time, due to the heat the ad cranked up, the ad went viral and more people have seen than probably originally envisaged. The ad and the brand have become talking points for weeks over and even this blog would not have been written if the ad showed a plain vanilla oneness story!

This post though is not about the journey of that particular ad. I wanted to use the window the ad provided to look at the strategy behind the campaign itself.

As I mentioned earlier, the campaign titled Ekatvam has been kicked off by Tanishq just ahead of its biggest season. In North India, the festive season around Navaratri and in particular Diwali/Danteras are peak seasons for buying gold jewellery. And any serious brand would not like to miss out on this high stakes season.

At the outset, Ekatvam seems to be a brand building exercise to build on its core values of “Trust” etc. So far so good. After having seen the ad that sparked the controversy, I went to Tanishq’s website which also showcases the Ekatvam campaign. And here’s the thing! It says “Tanishq presents Ekatvam – the beauty of Oneness!” It says the “thought” being, “Beautiful things happen when people come together. But today, we’re asked to stay apart, keep a distance and be safe. While we continue to do this, through compassion, empathy, hope and care, we’ve come together when it was needed the most.” And goes on further. “The beauty of oneness. One as humanity. One as a nation. Ekatvam. A confluence of India’s finest craft forms, intricately knitted into one stunning collection, bought alive by our skilled Karigars, where similarities and differences all become one!”

Beautiful thought and an excellent copy. However, if this is the Ekatvam (confluence of India’s craft etc.) Tanishq wanted to promote, where does this aspect come out in that ad? It is common marketing wisdom that when a company launches a campaign, it is showcased consistently across media platforms may it be Print, TV, Web site, Digital etc. I don’t see that being followed here. While the website talks of the campaign being a noble effort to bring together different craft forms and craftsmen, the TV commercial tries to convey oneness by bringing faiths together.  If you look at the print ads, the one in North India (see below left) is consistent with the theme in the web site. However, the print ad in South (see below right) doesn’t explain anything about Ekatvam beyond the tag line of “the beauty of Oneness” and looks more like a “Sales promotion” ad.







So, this brings back to my original hypothesis that the controversial ad was part of a game plan to “Stir up to sell”. The brief it seems was to deliberately bring in the Hindu – Muslim angle and showcase the oneness. And probably the company sort of expected the backlash. In any case, backlash or not, the ultimate objective was to make it go viral and maximise the bang for the buck. The outrage factory in my opinion completely missed this point and effectively contributed in making the ad and the brand top of the mind for few weeks.

What the controversial ad would do to sales would be an interesting thing to watch in the coming weeks. While some commentators feel that it may affect the retail sales a bit, I reckon it may not do much damage.

In final summary, just as you shrug off a lean business period after lock down and get into a peak season phase, why would you launch a CSR kind of corporate campaign of Ekatvam?

Post script: Another innocent question to the makers of the ad. When you wanted to showcase Hindu-Muslim confluence, why would you choose a Kerala family as a backdrop when the ad is in Hindi and aimed at festival season (Diwali) in North of India?

0 thoughts on “Tanishq Ekatvam – Anatomy of the Campaign!”

  1. A well written article with many perspectives..It can even be a good case study for those in Advt &Mktg …The stark lack of similarity between the ads meant for Northern/ Southern markets is a very interesting observation..I guess it was clearly a case od oversight at the top.. working in pockets! Wrt ur postscript observation..Kerala is one of the biggest markets for Gold Jewellery..Moreover i feel the secular spirit and manifestations are easily observed in Kerala than in any other part of the country…Kudos!

  2. 2 to 3 points I would like to mention…..1) a company like TATA or a brand like Tanishq would never indulge in Stir to Sell concept, especially when they have such high ethical business standards, 2) it is actually a very good add in my opinion, but nowadays there seems to be a trend where one boycotts if he or she dosent like and others follow them like a donkey. Though the actual stir began much later due to the war of words between some people. So the social media platform comes with a boon and a curse….. Feel tatas should never have bowed down as their intention was never wrong….same case was with HUL add.

    1. Hi Karan, Good to hear from you! I agree that it is a good ad. I am not saying that it was intended to stir a controversy but I conjecture that they knowingly stirred the pot! And they have done it in the past also – where they take a contrarian position to cut the clutter. And nothing wrong with that!

  3. Well written Anand. As you rightly stated, the company expected a backlash n planned to leverage it to their advantage.
    As a mktg professional, have you often seen advts missing the core theme ?
    Your post script throws another interesting angle. I understand Kerala is perhaps the only one or one of the very few states in India where Diwali is not celebrated as widely as other parts of India. Considering this, using a Kerala family as backdrop for the advt is well thought thru’ 😊😊

  4. Hi Anand,
    A well written article. I personally never thought in this angle of creating a type of conterversy and profiting kind of advertising. I didn’t saw the ad. Still I think they might have shown Kerala as background maybe to ensure the conterversy reaches more audiance. My point is presently in social medias lot of debates are happening between north and south indians views of present day poltics and society.so by showing a family from south will ensure people across India discuss and the brand gets more audiance.
    Ps.. I really liked one particular reply of yours.. I was reading the other comments and your replies which are professional type ones and suddenly I saw one .. “thankyou athimbar”…. 🌝

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