Aishwarya Ramesh
Digital

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

This isn't the first time the brand has dabbled in causevertising and other alcohol brands are doing it too.

"A brown guy wrote this ad..."

These are the words that come to life on the screen while watching Absolut India's latest video. The communication is a dig at racism, made on a black and white background, talking about equality. The rest of the video goes on to emphasise equality as a human trait and asks the viewer how colours were allowed to gain 'illegitimate' powers.

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

Absolut India's new video takes on racism

The video ticks all the boxes when it comes to making a communication that shows the brand standing for a cause... almost making it easy to forget what the brand actually manufactures...

These days, most brands are eager to jump onto the 'cause bandwagon' - but is it really necessary?.

It's interesting how even in this space, Absolut India has taken on something different. The ad tackles a topic that most Indians are not comfortable speaking about openly, i.e. racism.

Last year, Absolut India launched a campaign titled - 'Create a better tomorrow, tonight.' The videos in that series can be found on YouTube and have taken on a variety of causes. One speaks about saving the coral reefs, another talks about love and tolerance while the third discussed tiger conservation.

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

This video made a vague reference to deep sea diving and saving coral reefs

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

Love and tolerance was the theme of this video

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

Absolut India celebrates the increase in tiger population in the country

This still leaves us confused about what the brand is actually talking about. 2018 saw brand 100 Pipers Music CDs launch a similar campaign starring actor Rahul Khanna. The ad referenced doing good and rode on the theme of 'Goodness that Lasts.' The ad showcased him questioning what success really means while encouraging viewers to go a step further and give back to the environment and stand for something good.

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

This ad for 100 Pipers starred Rahul Khanna and celebrated lasting goodness

This pattern seems to be a breakaway from the way alcohol is normally advertised - in a glamorous, suave, stylish tone.

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

Priyanka Chopra for Blender's Pride fashion tour
Click on the image to enlarge

Priyanka Chopra is associated with Blender's Pride in India. The ads all have that same luxurious tone and the communications play out accordingly.

Alcohol brand Absolut India's stylised take on racism...

Priyanka Chopra's ad for Blender's Pride fashion tour

Some rules govern the advertising industry in India. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is the governing body that formulates these rules and regulates the ads that go live on various platforms. The ASCI Code prohibits the use of minors in advertising messages for alcohol products. The Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, the Advertising Codes of Doordarshan and the All India Radio and Norms for Journalist Conduct issued by the Press Council of India prohibit any advertisement that either directly or indirectly promotes the production, sale or consumption of wine, liquor and other intoxicants. Despite these restrictions, some states allow alcohol to be advertised via billboards, signboards etc. but this is subject to quite a few restrictions.

It remains to be seen whether causevertising is here to stay in the world alcohol advertising. We can only wait and watch...