Grand Vitara ad sparks debate about portrayal of women in ads

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The advertisement for Mahindra’s new ‘Thar’ in February 2022 offered a welcome diversion from the usual sports utility vehicle (SUV) commercials. This advertisement for an SUV featured a woman taking the wheel while keeping all the other characteristics of an SUV commercial, such as the rough terrain, the sound of the engine, and a dust storm. Five months later, Maruti Suzuki, another well-known automaker, debuted an advertisement for its brand-new SUV, the Grand Vitara. This time, the woman is not driving; instead, she is observed gazing at the vehicle and doesn’t contribute anything to the worth of the product. Industry professionals have criticised the company and the advertisement for how they depict women on social media.

The sexual objectification of characters of any gender or the sexualization and objectification of persons for the goal of titillating viewers are prohibited, according to ASCI’s rule of self-regulation. This would involve utilising linguistic or visual elements in situations completely unrelated to the product.

The ASCI has not yet received any complaints regarding the advertisement, despite the fact that it has drawn some criticism on social media. As a result, it has chosen not to comment on the advertisement.

Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director (marketing & sales) of Maruti Suzuki India, comments on the advertisement: “Putting an attractive male or a sexy lady in an ad doesn’t mean that you are objectifying them. It simply serves to appeal to a younger, more liberal audience.

According to Srivastava, the company cannot simply display the vehicle because its purpose is for admiration. Instead of just presenting the car as it is, the intention was to display it through the perspective of the viewer.

Second, the company doesn’t want to restrict its target to only families, business executives, or newlyweds. We didn’t want to highlight a certain car user. We wanted to give it a human touch. We wanted to demonstrate the functions and aesthetics of the car to someone, he continues.

However, experts believe that the ad’s sensibility is outdated. Because of this, it blends in and is unlikely to make an impression on spectators.

Bang In The Middle co-founder Naresh Gupta believes that the company would not have created the advertisement if it had given its mission more consideration.

The ad has a basic strategy, and its execution is even weaker. It’s so 1970s to use a lady as a prop to sell a car. Today, women make up a significant portion of the car market (SUVs). The advertisement will give you a bad vibe if you’re a family trying to move to a larger Suzuki product, says Gupta.

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