Does Reli­gion Sti­fle Creativ­ity?

That’s what we asked a few cre­ative ex­perts, in the con­text of Jawed Habib’s re­cently trolled ad.

The Brand Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­nit Roy and Ash­wini Gan­gal

NARESH GUPTA man­ag­ing part­ner and chief strat­egy of­fi­cer, Bang in the Mid­dle

RELI­GION AND COMMERCE ARE LARGELY DIVORCED FROM EACH OTHER. THERE IS NO STIFLING THAT HAPPENS

due to re­li­gious sym­bols. What mat­ters is sym­bol­ogy that comes from mythol­ogy; the vic­tory of good over evil; the bad ef­fects of ego; and the loss of mega­lo­ma­nia all of which are good things and have been used in com­mu­ni­ca­tion. How­ever, we must re­mem­ber that brands have not com­pletely banned hints of reli­gion; they do ex­ist all across the spec­trum.

I don’t think we need to ap­ply a re­li­gious cen­sor. If that was done, then many pop cul­ture sym­bols would never have made it in ad­ver­tis­ing; for ex­am­ple the sin­door that was used by ICICI Pru­den­tial to build the nar­ra­tive of se­cu­rity.

The job of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is to cre­ate a fol­low­ing for the brand; awards and ac­co­lades can wait. The ads that win in­ter­na­tion­ally are those which re­main true to lo­cal cul­ture. Like the Aus­tralian ad for Lamb; if the cul­ture of the land is re­li­gious equal­ity then the sym­bol­ogy of sit­ting and hav­ing a meal to­gether can’t be faulted. Till ads con­tinue to bor­row and build on cul­ture of a land, we won’t have a prob­lem.

SANDHYA SRINIVASAN chief strat­egy of­fi­cer and man­ag­ing part­ner, Law & Ken­neth Saatchi & Saatchi

IF YOU OBSERVE MINUTELY OR JUST LOOK AT THE BIG PIC­TURE, THERE IS CLEARLY ENOUGH

(and more) hap­pen­ing in this world, in the name of reli­gion. This coun­try has seen good, bad and the ugli­est too in the re­cent past. Tem­pers get frayed, vi­o­lence erupts, and peo­ple get hurt when a sub­ject evokes a strong, of­ten neg­a­tive or dif­fi­cult emo­tion. Why un­nec­es­sar­ily tam­per with it?

Use reli­gion, if at all, to im­pact change in a mind­set, halt­ing detri­men­tal out­comes, in recog­nis­ing that it’s time to re-haul it, in pro­mot­ing plu­ral­ity per­haps or the need to el­e­vate be­yond that to ‘hu­man­ity’. This is what the world needs right now. That is the only role for reli­gion in ad­ver­tis­ing; the rest is just op­por­tunis­tic.

SUMANTO CHATTOPADHYAY chair­man and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, Soho Square

BENGALIS REGARD MAA DURGA AND HER FAM­ILY LIKE THEIR OWN FAM­ILY. AS WITH ANY CLOSE-KNIT FAM­ILY,

there is love and de­vo­tion. But equally, there is also good-na­tured teas­ing, jok­ing and laugh­ter. It’s all very light-hearted which, I be­lieve, any ma­ture per­son’s re­la­tion­ship with reli­gion should be.

I have seen Durga and her chil­dren por­trayed in all sorts of tongue-in-cheek sit­u­a­tions in books, films, art and, by ex­ten­sion, ad­ver­tis­ing. And I have seen Bengalis take it in the right spirit.

I am dis­ap­pointed at the re­ac­tion to the Jawed Habib ad. I wish it had been taken in the light-hearted spirit it was meant. A pic­ture like that would not have been amiss even in the typ­i­cal Ben­gali chil­dren’s mag­a­zines we grew up with. But with the trolling in so­cial me­dia, threats and court cases that seem to be the stan­dard re­sponse these days, I sup­pose one has to think twice be­fore bring­ing in any sort of re­li­gious ref­er­ence in an ad. It would be pru­dent, given the times we live in.

SANTOSH PADHI (PADDY) co-founder and chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, Tap­root Dentsu

WE ARE A MULTIDIMENSIONAL, RE­LI­GIOUS SENSITIVE AND EMO­TIONAL NA­TION, WHICH IS

the rea­son some of the re­li­gious par­ties are still stronger than some of the na­tional po­lit­i­cal par­ties to­day. Most of these re­li­gious par­ties just wait for op­por­tu­nity to flex their fake mus­cles by which such cam­paigns be­come a campaign for their par­ties and that’s how they sus­tain.

My big­gest reser­va­tion to­wards this is that we, the ad­ver­tis­ing and marketing com­mu­nity, are soft tar­gets when it comes to such is­sues. Many re­li­gious par­ties strip­ing each other’s re­li­gions openly are pro­tected and there are no con­se­quences. I have a big­ger ques­tion here – Bol­ly­wood, which is far big­ger than the ad in­dus­try and has a mega im­pact on so­ci­ety, are given many lib­er­ties com­pared to our in­dus­try; why? I’m not against them, but I be­lieve we should get the same free­dom of ex­pres­sion in a 30 sec­ond com­mer­cial.

Both so­cial me­dia and the me­dia play a very im­por­tant role in our so­ci­ety to­day, hence they have a big re­spon­si­bil­ity to shape the na­tion, how you por­tray the story clearly sug­gest which in­dus­try you’re in.

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