Marketing Indian Classical dances

Have you come across the new 7UP advt that shows a person in Kathakali full regalia? Well, if not, see it in YouTube. Honestly, this is not the first time that an Indian classical dance form has been used for a commercial purpose. Remember in last year’s IPL match, and the year before that, when the cheerleaders were doing their part of “culture-dose” by cheering in Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam costumes? [1, 2]

In the case of 7UP, Kalamandalam has voiced its views. The New Indian express reports [3]

Kerala Kalamandalam had recently demanded a ban on the telecast of a TV advert of a soft drink, ‘7Up’, that portrays Kathakali, allegedly in a derogatory manner.

Marketing is rightly described as a “double-edged sword”. Giving the benefit of doubt to the creators of the advt, they probably had good intentions. Intended with a message that anyone who drinks 7UP gets the urge to dance, it is slightly off the mark of being hilarious (This is my opinion). Rightly so, “no dance form is off limits for PepsiCo”[4] with their Dance On contest all over the country.

On a general note, should dancers be happy that classical dance forms are getting popular with the masses or being crassed out?

What can be done?

Well, Kalamandalam has proposed one possible solution that needs some political will to happen. [3]

Suresh also called for the setting up of a cultural ethics committee along the lines of the film censor board to scrutinise (sic) the portrayal of traditional art in films and advertisements.

Maybe more introspection by marketers [5] is needed.

And yet, time and again, we don’t seem to take the time and the pain to gain a true understanding of what it is that people want, and what it is that brands can deliver to them.

Or maybe we should remember that Art is bigger than such silly stuff and it cannot be blemished by these advts and gimmicks.

Or maybe we should take a hint from R. K. Laxman and not take ourselves seriously, and laugh once in a while.Maybe!


  1. (India Today; May 2, 2011)
  2. (Deccan Hearld; April 17, 2011)
  3. (The New Indian Express; April 24, 2013)
  4. (Economic times; April 17, 2013)
  5. (Business Standard; April 21, 2013)

One response to “Marketing Indian Classical dances

  1. Comment moderated
    deleted have been donning Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam costumes since many years, and became “senior dancers”, creating plenty of pious sycophants who did not want to see it as an act of desecration when these dancers performed to pop songs and secular themes such as condom songs? Maybe 7UP advertisers thought if the deleted “senior dancers” have been promoting slimming belts or anti-wrinkle creams, there is no harm in promoting 7UP?

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