In the world of advertisement where racism, sexism, gender stereotyping and prejudice are also sold alongwith products, there are few advertisements that dares to resist. Though rare but there have always been advertisements that touch our hearts, that continues to stay with us even after the ad is long gone and the new Vicks’ advertisement “Touch of Care” falls in this category.
As soon as its release, the advertisement had gone viral. It was reported that within 4 hours, it received a viewership of 4.6 million people. What was so phenomenon about this advertisement? A lot of things!
The advertisement starts with a young girl looking outside, at the world, the society from the bus window and narrating her mother’s desire and struggle to make her a doctor. She starts talking about her mother who is a single parent and had several challenges in her life including being abandoned by her own family. Gradually, the girl starts revealing details of how her mother is actually not her biological mother. She had parents but both of them passed away and she was adopted but her mother was able to fill the gap beautifully. She saw her mother as a source of love, care and security. The camera then goes to show her mother who is a transgender female person. She was also looking outside, lost in thoughts, memories but when she looks at her daughter, she smiles. It is revealed that she was taking her daughter to a boarding school so that she gets the best education and opportunities. As the mother starts to go, the girl narrates and asks that while in the civics textbook, it is written that everyone is entitled to basic rights but then why is her mother not entitled to them? As she sees her mother go, filled with emotions, she shares that this is why she wants to become a lawyer, not a doctor.
The advertisement, the acting, the way it is shot, is also beautiful and powerful. It compels one to stop and think. It is a revolutionary advertisement. In the industry where people with non-heteronormative sexualities are treated as objects of mockery and disgust, this advertisement shows them as human beings, as people to whom anyone irrespective of his/her sexuality can relate to. This advertisement is based on the true story of transgender mother and activist Gauri Sawant and her adopted daughter Gayatri.
While the predominant theme is of trans-parenting, it also sensitizes one about adoption. There are couples who go to the end of the world for biological kids but do not want to adopt a child who is also in need of care. It also raises questions on the farce rules concerning adoption in India. Legally, trans people cannot adopt. A single male cannot adopt a female child. These adoption rules stinks of homophobia, transphobia and sexism.
It’s time that those in authority of justice and in decision-making update their knowledge, broaden their understanding and the Vicks’ ad seems to present a good start for the same.
About the writer:
Devika Mittal is pursuing Phd in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi, India. She is a core member of Mission Bhartiyam and Covenor of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative. She tweets at: @devikasmittal
The advertisement :