Pride Month: Campaigns that started conversations and sparked change in India
Revolutionary campaigns BI India
To mark pride month, we look back at some of the iconic advertisements that initiated an early conversation in our coun...

Pride Month: Campaigns that started conversations and sparked change in India

To mark pride month, we look back at some of the iconic advertisements that initiated an early conversation in our coun...
  • For years, talking about the queer community was a taboo in the Indian advertising industry. Today, while there have been some path-breaking campaigns in acknowledging the community and giving them a voice, a lot more still needs to be done.
  • To mark pride month, we look back at some of the iconic advertisements that initiated an early conversation in our country, which were still a taboo back then and created a ripple effect by bringing to light some of the issues that LGBTQIA communities continue to face.
The month of June is observed as Pride month all over the world, which is a movement that brings the entire LGBTQIA+ community together to spread the message of equality in all spheres of life, including the right to love. However, where are Indian brands? It has been 17 days since pride month began. Apart from the rainbow-coloured logos on social media, no brand has mustered the courage to normalise the whole spectrum and initiate a concrete conversation.

Since many Indian brands have failed to give the community a voice through their campaigns, to make the queer community a part of their daily life conversation and step out of their comfort zones, we decided to look back at some of the iconic advertisements that were created by brands who dared to speak up and break some taboos. These ads created a much-needed ripple effect in our country and started a conversation around issues that the community goes through. They simply reminded the audience that they care about queer community’s existence by acknowledging and representing different kinds of humans -- conveying that India is stepping out of its closest.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Fastrack’s The Closet

Way ahead of its time, Fastrack’s ad was quite special for India. It was the very first brand in India to show a lesbian couple. It encouraged the youth to come out of their closet of comfort and speak up, metaphorically.

In this commercial, the doors of a cupboard open, and two young women walk out, adjusting their clothes and hair. “Come out of the closet”, urges the advertisement and ends with Fastrack’s now famous tagline, “Move On.”

Anouk’s The Visit

Myntra’s ad for its ethinic wear brand Anouk was probably one of the first ads in India that attempted to normalise different sexual preferences, without looking at them through a lens of judgement or for sake of tokenism. Created by Ogilvy India, this ad left you mesmerised by the beautiful portrayal of pure love that can happen between any two people.

Vicks’ Touch of Care

Normalising trans motherhood in India, Vicks initiated a conversation everyone else was afraid to have. It highlighted how motherhood goes beyond biological ties with transgender activist Gauri Sawant, who also runs an NGO called Sakhi Char Chowghi. It showcased her real life story of bringing up a girl.

Conceptualised by Publicis Singapore for Procter & Gamble, the video shows how Gayatri, at the age of 6, loses her biological mother, a sex worker, to HIV AIDS. It ends with Gayatri vowing to become a lawyer so that she can fight for equal human rights and build an equal environment for her foster mother.

Brooke Bond Label’s 6 Pack Band

The 6 Pack Band was a story of six transgender singers from Hijra community, which is commonly ignored by most and misunderstood by all. However, this song concentrated on what they rejoice about being queer and trangenders instead.

It was an initiative created and driven by Y-Films, the youth wing of Yash Raj Films, to help further the cause of gender equality in India. This campaign also brought home the coveted Grand Prix in the Glass Lion category at Cannes.

The Times of India's Out and Proud

On September 6, 2018 the Supreme Court of India decriminalised section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. With this judgment, the gay community got a legal nod to sexual rights. While the laws have changed for the better, we still witness negative attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ people.

The Times of India in collaboration with FCB India was one of the large-scale campaigns that was launched to celebrate this historic milestone. Its campaign aimed to empower the members of the queer community to live a dignified life with acceptance and pride. It lent a medium to a community whose voice was buried for generations. It brought to light the discrimiation they face every day and reminded them how they always ‘had a place in our hearts.’

OkCupid’s #LoveAtFirstPride

Another brand that celebrated striking down of article 377 in 2018, OkCupid, digital campaign #LoveAtFirstPride acknowledged love beyond binary identities.

The idea behind the campaign was to cherish the freedom for all gender identities and this has been captured in the video with the LGBTQ community answering questions like ‘How much would you reveal about yourself on a first date? ,‘What are your views on moving on with your partner?’ and ‘What are your thoughts on PDA?’. The campaign was launched in the middle of the pride month and in less than a week, it received an overwhelming support of over a million individuals spread across platforms. The campaign is aimed at spreading the message of equal representation of different sexual orientations.

While all these ads revolutionised the industry in their own ways, legacy brands still shy away from including LGBTQIA+ community in their functional ads or an everyday sales ad. ‘Sexuality’ is still used as a plot twist in ads when we should be moving beyond tokenism and to normalise it further, we need to start including them next to a cis gender couple.