Raksha Bandhan: How Brand Campaigns Are Cheering Gender Role Reversal

·3 min read

We all know Raksha Bandhan as the festival to celebrate the love between brothers and sisters. Usually, on this day sisters tie Rakhi (a sacred thread) on the wrists of their brothers — which is meant to protect them against evil influences and give them the boon of long life and happiness. They, in turn, give a gift or a promise to protect their sisters from any harm.

Although the spirit of the festival of Rakhi is still alive, it has surely met with many modernized updates every year.
Although the spirit of the festival of Rakhi is still alive, it has surely met with many modernized updates every year.

Traditionally, the day has celebrated the bond between brothers and sisters. However, the festival of Raksha Bandhan has evolved in sync with the changing times. Although one could say the spirit of the festival of Rakhi is still alive, it has surely met with many modernized updates every year.

Raksha Bandhan In COVID Times

With businesses across verticals starting operations anew after COVID-induced lockdown relaxations, brands are encashing the opportunity through digital media campaigns. For brands, it is a prominent way to drive engagement with storytelling and eventually having long-term relationships with their customers.

Innovative Rakhi campaigns are not a novelty altogether. In fact, brands have attempted to create something unique in a bid to break stereotypes in the past few years.

Also read: Rakhis for Jawans: Women Artisans Make This Raksha Bandhan Extra Special

But unlike previous years, the impact of COVID-19 has altered the larger outlook. The virtual celebrations and video calls seen in ad campaigns called for simpler celebrations encouraging consumers to appreciate even the smallest achievements.

This gave brands the opportunity to portray themselves as the friend that could help add joy to the festivities.

Some brands invoked the sentiment of gratitude towards ‘corona warriors’. In a Mankind Pharma advertisement of 2020, a Covid patient was seen tying Rakhi to one of the staff nurses for protection like a brother while being a sister, the sister of the patient was seen wishing the security guard with Raksha Bandhan greetings.

A screengrab from the Mankind Raksha Bandhan ad campaign
A screengrab from the Mankind Raksha Bandhan ad campaign

The campaign played on the term ‘sister’ (colloquial term for nurses). Some also touched upon the idea of tying Rakhis to professionals in essential services.

Gender bender

Over the past few years, brands have pushed for a gender role reversal through its campaigns by stating that it need not be the brother who protects. Many brands such as the Man Company tried to put out a message of gender-agnostic Rakhi showing incidents of brothers tying Rakhi on sisters.

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The men’s grooming company acknowledged the concept of protecting the sibling, one that is traditionally associated with the festival of Raksha Bandhan, and spoke about how the festival can be used as an event to express gratitude.

Another advertisement by Shoppers Stop acknowledged the care and love of sisters . The househelp who not just worked but also took care of the house owner was seen celebrated in one of the retail chain’s advertisements.

Many brands utilized the festive season to promote their products and at the same time bring in some message through their advertisements. Some were the thought-provoking route, while others melted hearts.

However, one message that was loud and clear was that celebrations should be inclusive.

(Edited by Sanhati Banerjee)

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