India @75: Anisha Iyer on the revolutionary ad campaigns

As India gears up to celebrate her 75th year of Independence, we at Adgully are tracing the journey of Advertising and its contribution to the Indian society at large – whether it is bringing about a change in mindsets, or a societal pattern, or empowering different communities or ushering in new thoughts – basically, Soch badal ke rakh diya.

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Our aim is to collate 75 most impressive and significant ways in which Advertising has impacted India over the decades. For this, we are reaching out to the Advertising Honchos of India to share the most significant contributions of Advertising to the Indian society and why they consider them to be important developments. We will serialise the story on Adgully’s website in the lead-up to the Independence Day this year in this special series: India @75 – Through the Advertising Lens.

In conversation with Adgully, Anisha Iyer, Chief Executive Officer, OMD India, looks back at some of the revolutionary advertising campaigns that wowed people with their innovative approach, empowering messages and social value.

“There is no denying the fact that advertising is a powerful tool that has the ability to shape the perception of people and in many ways, it mirrors our society,” remarked Iyer. The advertising industry in India has evolved over the years and many brands have taken it upon themselves to be agents of change and use their campaigns to spark social change. “As we celebrate 75 years of Independence, it is important to look back at some of the revolutionary advertising campaigns that wowed people with their innovative approach, empowering messages and social value,” she added.

Dove - Real Beauty

Dove has always been a purpose-driven brand. It has been at the forefront of advocating diversity much before it became the norm. The brand truly is an original trendsetter who paved the way for modern-day inclusivity, something that is so readily visible in campaigns carried out by other brands today. It was a huge step forward in advertising and it remains one of the first brands to get inclusive marketing right and ignite the spark of diversity in brands.

The ‘Dove campaign for Real Beauty’ focused on body positivity, acceptance, and inclusivity, which broke the traditional mould and set an example for others to follow. Dove sent out an important message in the process that resonated with all the women out there and spoke to them on a personal level. Over the years, the brand has continued raising the bar on its advertising since. So, it should really come as no surprise that the impact of this one stands out in the advertising space.

Apple - Think Different (‘The Misfits’ ad)

When we think of advertising, Apple is one of the top brands that come to mind, owing to its long history of creating some of the most impressive campaigns. As a brand, it has always been way ahead of its time. Their campaign ‘Think Different’ is a testament to Apple’s unique approach to all that they do – including their advertising.

The ‘Think Different’ campaign wove in a touching portrait of visionary leaders and figures in history who dared to be different and conveyed a powerful message that resonated with people across the globe. It rightfully cemented Apple’s standing as one of the most innovative leaders in marketing. The fact that no Apple device was on display in the advertisement speaks volumes about the brand’s unique ability to draw in people. They chose to stand out from the crowd and it is why they are a Goliath amongst giants globally today. 

Tata Tea - ‘Jaago Re’

Tata Tea’s ‘Jaago Re’ is a campaign that has probably had the most impact in terms of connecting with people from all backgrounds in India. No other ad campaign has had a rippling effect on this scale. It traversed the boundaries of age, gender, caste and more to give us some of the most powerful advertisements that ingeniously incorporated relevant social commentary.

Tata Tea set out on an ambitious mission to not only stand out from its competition, but also address a critical issue. The fact that many Indians were generally apathetic to socio-political issues and there was a desperate need to give them a wake-up call. That’s where Tata Tea came into the picture. The campaign worked wonders and inspired people everywhere in India to step up and vote responsibly.

There is no doubt that it left a huge impact, as was evident by the increase in the number of voters across the country after the campaign came into the picture. The social activism footprint of this campaign has been far-reaching and has over the years, inspired Tata Tea to do more, do better with its brand of self-actualization, increased civic consciousness and heightened awareness.

Ariel - Share the Load

To me, this campaign was more than just the dynamics between a husband and a wife. It brought to the forefront an important issue when it comes to parenting. The campaign cleverly highlighted the role gender played in the upbringing of children and relayed an important message, serving as a wake-up call for parents and people in general.

The ‘Share the Load’ campaign turned traditional gender stereotypes on their head and taught parents the importance of keeping equality in mind when raising their children. It was a rather effective way of doing subliminal advertising and unsurprisingly, people found it thoughtful and moving.


Last but definitely not the least, is a brand that has consistently pushed the boundaries of advertisements, Tanishq. With a progressive agenda in mind, they have brought ads to life that touched upon many relevant social issues, including widow remarriages, live-in relationships, inter-faith connections and more. Tanishq has been breaking down traditional barriers with its inspiring and progressive ads for years.

With the aid of social commentary, the ads are meant to impress upon the fact that jewellery is more than just a stereotypical embellishment. That it is not just a piece of adornment but a reflection of your personality and unique sense of style.

Despite all criticisms it has faced, Tanishq has stood its ground firmly over the years. This speaks volumes about the brand and how they are committed to a strong and progressive mindset that the world today desperately needs. Yet another advertising masterpiece from the house of Tata!

In Conclusion

These are just a few vignettes that go to show that if advertising is done right, it can do more than just sell a brand’s products. It can inspire, motivate and engage the audience on a massive scale. “The advertising industry in India is growing rapidly and I hope that we continue to push the boundaries and create innovative and audacious campaigns that the world sits up and takes notice of. The possibilities are truly endless!” remarked Iyer.


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