Weddings are powerful in advertising because they imply more than just the joining of two people—they signal the belief that we can attain, and deserve to attain, the happy ending. Of course, life doesn't end after a wedding, but for most people, the rest of the story can be summed up with "and they lived happily ever after." Conversely, when people don't see their story told in advertising, one of modern culture's most pervasive means of storytelling, they begin to feel as if they can't attain—or worse, aren't deserving of—that happiness.
That's why India is currently mesmerized by the ad below, which may seem to outsiders like yet another commercial about yet another happy wedding. The spot, in and of itself, is cute. A bride is seen getting ready on her wedding day. Boy, is she stunning with her incredible new Tanishq necklace! She and her adorable daughter walk to meet the groom and then perform the wedding rites. The daughter wants to go around the circle with them, but Mom tells her to be quiet. It's the stepdad who invites his new daughter to join the ceremony. Afterward, the girl asks her stepdad if she can call him Daddy. The feels—oh, the feels!
But in a nation where widowed and divorced women have historically been treated as outcasts, the theme of the spot—a woman's second marriage, to a man who treats both her and her daughter with love and respect—is not only revolutionary. It is crazy bold.
Adding more fuel to the fire, agency Lowe Lintas chose a lovely model whose skin tone is apparently "duskier" than that of most advertising brides. So, not only can you find happiness in your second marriage, you can find happiness regardless of your skin tone (the makeup people aren't going to like that!). Arun Iyer, national creative director at Lowe Lintas, explained to Livemint that that the casting was everything in this ad, saying "it had to look like a marriage of equals, not something that was done out of pity." From that, I learned that the social status of a widow is such that people seeing the ad might automatically think someone was marrying her out of pity.
Incredible work from Lowe, but it might take a few more jewelry ads to make a real change.
UPDATE: AdFreak reader Rini Joshy directs us to an even earlier remarriage spot from India, a 2001 ad for women's magazine Femina.