In 1994, using the term “sexy” in Bollywood songs created such a huge backlash it had to be replaced by a more socially acceptable word.
Fast-forward 20 years. Today, Big Boss, the Indian TV reality show introduces Sunny Leone, a renowned “adult movie” star, and audience accepts her, not only as a reality show participant, but also as a mainstream actor in Indian cinema. The Indian audience has really grown up!
Even advertisers have changed their communication style, connecting their messages with themes that until recently were considered taboo. These themes include: infidelity (a husband finds his wife’s lover hiding in the closet with VIP Skybag luggage); remarriage (a bride and her daughter wear Tanshiq wedding jewelry); and sexual freedom (two young women emerge together from a closet in an ad for Fastrack watches).
Being bold helps a brand stand out as different – more so in today’s India. However, care should be taken that boldness doesn’t contradict the brand’s ethos or risk alienating its core audience.