Recasting Women?



I can never forget Lalithaji, or the crusading Rajni. I’m not sure if there was any intended correspondence between the woman in the ad and the TV character, but it worked. But in a post-DD world of numerous cable and satellite channels, not much changed in terms of women’s choices being framed first and foremost in relation to the family. Husband’s health, kids’ health, soaps and detergenets, colors for the room, and so on – it seemed advertising agencies simply could not think about women beyond a heterosexual/family frame.

According to this story, there are signs of some change:

Over the last few months, several non-gender specific categories such as breakfast cereal, alcohol, health drinks and even services such as radio have launched products aimed at women. The launches are part of a trend that recognizes women not just as primary decision makers in the Indian household, but also a large enough specialist target group or so-called mega niche that marketers can address.

My question is, will this new demographic construct lead to shifts in TV programming? I’d like to know how many women in this category watch the “women-centric” saas-bahu soaps on TV? Why does TV continue to segment the “women’s audience” into either a “youth” (MTV, etc.) or a “saas-bahu-family” category? I’m not suggesting that the U.S. model of Lifetime is necessarily the best way forward. Just wondering if this shift in advertising/marketing might lead TV producers and writers to imagine new programming possibilities.


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