Portrayal of women in the media, and particularly advertisements, has been a topic of debate for long. However, the recent Delhi gang rape incident has provided the impetus to society to take active steps towards gender sensitisation. The Indian chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA), in its part, has apparently decided to take the issue by the horn and launched an initiative to stop Violence On Women (VOW).
The second phase of the initiative comprises a contest to create a multimedia campaign to address the issue of eve teasing. IAA will invite creative people and agencies to develop the campaign in English and regional languages, out of which three-four will be selected by a jury consisting of eminent people from the industry and outside the advertising world.
"We believe eve teasing is the mother of most evils afflicted on women. If this is addressed, you can address most kinds of violence perpetrated on women," Swamy says.
Concurring with him, Kaushik Roy, chairman, IAA Public Service Committee and president, brand strategy and marketing communication, Reliance Industries, says that based on their discussion with the NGOs, the issue is critical to tackle as in most cases a rapist starts off as an eve teaser.
Explaining why gender sensitisation is needed for the media and advertising fraternity, Roy states, "TV has tremendous impact on all of us. And, in most cases, advertising reinforces stereotypes while portraying women. IAA plays an effective role in advocating self-governance. For instance, you don't find cigarette ads on TV in India. Hence, this initiative will align with self-governance, as we don't want to reach a point where it becomes necessary to have censorship."
According to Roy, TAM figures indicate that ads on cosmetics, hair care, personal care and hygiene addressing women audience occupies 23,000 spots a day out of the total of 1,23,000 daily spots. Also, the reach of satellite television in urban homes has increased by 74 per cent, as per IRS figures. Added to this, the average number of ads viewed by a person has increased from 296 to 337 per week, courtesy the increase in television channels.
Most activities under the initiative will take place in the early part of this year.