Tanishq’s Ekatvam, the oneness, broken

Have you seen the new Tanishq Ekatvam ad film titled ‘Confluence’? No?

You cannot, anymore. Because Tanishq has officially succumbed to the online trolls and removed the video from all their platforms.

Watch a copy of the ad, here:

They started with comments enabled and Likes/Dislikes allowed. Then they disabled both. Finally, they have removed the video.


The kind of comments they are getting for the same video on Facebook would offer you a reason. Here’s a snapshot. There’s a lot more on Twitter that’s hundred times more vile and vicious, including naming and abusing specific employees of Tanishq.

To be honest, I was very, very surprised that someone at Tanishq and their ad agency considered this script, passed it for production, and were bold enough to release it now. That this needs to be called ‘bold’, in itself, is an odd situation to be in. We had a time when a Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre wore nothing but a snake to sell shoes and we used to call that ‘bold’.

Within days of its release, the ad has found virulent denouncement. And boycott calls too.

So what exactly is the problem in the ad according to the detractors? It supposedly normalizes “Love Jihad”, a term that has been categorically stated in the Parliament as a non-existent concept by the ruling party’s own junior home minister G Kishan Reddy in February 2020 (much like there is no record, meaning, explanation or context for ‘tukde tukde gang’, a term used to defame anyone not fitting a particular narrative).

Not all inter-faith marriages deserve to be called out derogatorily or sweepingly denounced or dismissed.

Does the ad claim that this is representative of all of India? No.
Does the ad showcase violence between people? No.
Does it show that people live in harmony, beyond their religion? Yes.
Is this kind of harmony impossible? No.
Is this kind of harmony needed? Of course.

So, what’s the problem then? The problem is supposed to be that since gullible Hindu women (who, under the ‘Love Jihad’ conspiracy theory, have no agency of their own and are mere puppets that can be led anywhere) are being lured by rabid men from Islam/other religions, according to the theory of “Love Jihad”, this ad shows the opposite – that a Hindu woman is living peacefully with her Muslim husband and family, who are arranging an extensive Hindu-style VaLai Kaappu ceremony (Godh Bharai/Indian-style baby shower) for her.

Is the man shown in the ad violent and abusive? No.
Is the family ill-treating their daughter-in-law? No.
Is this scenario impossible? Hardly.

I have at least 3 friends with the same set-up – Hindu wife-Muslim husband. They are living as normally as anyone else. They celebrate both festivals with equal fervor.

So, can’t the ad showcase what-could-be? Of course, it can. That’s what advertising does anyway – showing the what-is-possible scenario. And this is not necessarily a make-believe world – it is what it is, at least when I look at my own friends. The what-could-be is usually based on insights on user behavior, with the usual advertising-led exaggeration layered in.

Are there exceptions to what’s being shown? Absolutely, there could be.
Do exceptions become the norm? Not at all. They are not, and shouldn’t.

The other major gripe with the ad, as per angry comments is, “Why can’t they show the reverse? A Muslim wife and Hindu husband?”.

Yeah, why not? But, Closeup, the toothpaste brand, tried showing both, in 2 different ad films, in a 2018 campaign (my post from 2018 has all the context, but the videos have been removed by Closeup). Both got trolled heavily and Closeup withdrew both! There’s no end to this trolling.

So, I’m genuinely surprised that Tanishq and its agency actually passed this, knowing fully well the kind of reactions it may lead to. I’m fairly sure they do not live in a bubble to not know what kind of reactions to expect for this ad film.

All they are showing is a happy, sane and peaceful coexistence of religions. But in a situation where there is a constant need to hold up a villain for people to be perpetually angry and fearful about, this ad becomes yet another easy target.

Tanishq hasn’t done anything wrong, or haven’t shown anything to be ashamed of. So, it is sad that they had to succumb to the online trolling and withdraw their ad.

For context, here are a few other ads that tread this ground, between the 2 religions. Most of them have been trolled for assorted reasons and some of them have been withdrawn too.

Surf Excel – Holi, February 2019 | Agency: Lowe Lintas Mumbai

Closeup Lost Loves: Naghma & Arghadeep, November 2018 | Agency: Lowe Lintas and VICE Media

Closeup Lost Loves: Adithi & Umar, November 2018 | Agency: Lowe Lintas and VICE Media

Brooke Bond Red Label – Ganesha, September 2018 | Agency: Geometry Encompass

Brooke Bond Red Label – Neighbours, April 2014 | Agency: Ogilvy

Kaun Banega Crorepati promo, July 2014 | Agency: Leo Burnett



8 thoughts on “Tanishq’s Ekatvam, the oneness, broken

  1. Tanishq hasn’t done anything wrong, nor have shown anything to be ashamed of. So, it is sad that they had to succumb to the online trolling and withdraw their advertisement. We are in the 21st Century, and believe in unity.

  2. Great article. Tanishq indeed displayed the right intent, but sadly succumbed to the parochial attacks. I wish they reinstate the ad. I saw other ads that are shared with this story from close-up, surf and brook bond tea…those are impressive, they touch my soul. Enjoyed the read.

  3. Interesting article. I ponder about several questions in this entire controversy –

    1. For a brand like Tanishq, how much of this social-media-boycott-calls actually impact their sales?
    2. What should the Tanishq leadership team do differently to not succumb to the social-media-boycott-calls?
    3. Do creative agencies feel the impact of such controversial ads?

  4. Keeping in mind the beautiful message that the Ad wanted to drive, I guess the creative heads at the agency missed the necessity of separating business from emotions. And while this fact may not be relevant all the time, it is completely relevant in the current times where messages of unity cutting thru the spectrum of social, cultural and religious differences act more as an irritant for the charged-up audience who are knowingly or unknowingly divided. When your audience are biased towards a certain thought process, its better to avoid or design your comm efforts which drive the intended message while avoiding such biases. As outrageous at this might seem, the Ad could have been completely re-designed to drive the message of Ekatvam and its only because of the sad way that such beautiful Ad and its message has failed to connect with the audience. The ad was beautifully done with clear messaging but alas!

    Guess one of the underlying principals of MARCOM is and will always be relevant for the times to come – Always tailor your message according to the audience. No matter how much conviction you might have for a tangential or a bold message, if the audience is not taking it then its better to dump the idea. Anyways, 5 star to the Ad!!

  5. Instead of taking their ad down, they could have made another ad showing a Hindu family welcoming a Muslim bride in their house. But they didn’t, and the sole reason for that is Islamic community doesn’t give the same freedom that the Hindu communities have been enraged for after this video which was supposed to bring them together. The concept of unity that people speak of, has to be welcomed by all communities but for that to happen, the content should be made to make every community feel the same way. While the ad made was very lovely, and didn’t deserve to be hated, It wasn’t showing an entirely liberal and equally fair perspective. I really appreciate the message ad tried to portray.

  6. Hi
    Your article brings to light the shameful face of intolerant and “full of hate” people who wrote their comments and inclination towards boycotting such a harmonious ad by tanishq.

    Somewhere I heard that more of such trolls are in reality not hate; rather signalling to the political groups that they are available to come into limelight and to groups that might find use for such people at their side sooner or later.

    Yours is a very well researched article by showing other such hindu muslim unity ads in the past. I remember the KBC ad. Back then it was just a lovely ad to me; But now seeing it again on your portal in comparison as to current times I dare not visualize what the trolls would be.

    We need more of such ads on tv to remind that we are all the same. But I am now sceptical as to whether they would be able to make any difference to people’s thinking or they would be withdrawn given the furious attitude of people. Also if you remember in the movie mulk, the girl was hindu and the boy mulim, yet in the family’s time of distress she fights their case and also wins it. I am sure the same hatful people of tanishq’s troll would have said that – “see, a muslim family could not have won without a hindu bahu. Such convenience is only theirs to hug.

    I see that few comments on your beautiful article are related to what hindu marriage laws & muslim laws say. And I wonder do these people really measure each and every ad / movie in the limelight of what Act will it come underneath and whether that act has been shown with all its clauses in the visual? Come on!! Are such people doing a critical analysis or just trying to bring themselves to the limelight?

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