Clash Over Titan: Ad For New Watch Collection That Celebrates Tamil Culture Runs Into ‘Dravidian’ Trouble

by M R Subramani - Dec 9, 2019 08:31 AM
Clash Over Titan: Ad For New Watch Collection That Celebrates Tamil Culture Runs Into ‘Dravidian’ TroubleTitan watch inspired by temple architecture (Pic via Twitter)
  • Titan chose the collection in view of its deep-rooted connection with the State that began in 1988.

    Tamil Nadu accounts for around 12 per cent of Titan’s business.

    But many loyal to the Dravidian cause say the culture Titan is celebrating is ‘Brahminical’, and not ‘Tamil’.

An advertisement released by Titan to promote its “Namma Tamil Nadu” (our Tamil Nadu) range of wristwatch collections has created a controversy on social media with views for and against it.

Titan, a joint venture between Tata and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO), however, withdrew its advertisement after the controversy.

The advertisement captures the rich heritage of Tamil Nadu through glimpses of its Darasuram, Brihadeeswara and Kailasanathar temples, the architecture, its flowers that “gives the fragrance of history”, the unique “zha” in the language and Kanchipuram silk. It says “the path of our forefathers was towards future”, adding that it is the home to humanity.

Titan’s Chief Development Officer Revathi Kant told media during the release of the “Namma Tamil Nadu” range that the collection was based on inspirations of Tamil Nadu’s textile crafts, temple architecture and Tamil scripts.

She said Titan chose the collection in view of its deep-rooted connection with the State that began in 1988. Tamil Nadu contributes 12 per cent of Titan’s business and the company sees that there is a lot more to unearth from Tamil Nadu’s creativity point of view.

While the advertisement on the collection received a positive response from many on social media, there were some, describing themselves to be supporters of Dravidian ideology, who tried to portray it as a negative development.

For sometime on Saturday (7 December), the hashtag #boycottitanwatches trended on Twitter, forcing Titan to withdraw its advertisement.

One critic said it showcased the “Brahminical” side of Tamil Nadu and the advertisement had “visible markers against Dravidian culture”.

Another said that Brahminical books, culture, food and anti-Tamil writers were projected as Tamil Nadu's culture and there was nothing Tamil in it.

But the objection to the advertisement seems to be a caricature of freedom fighter Subramaniya Bharathi and a glimpse of his name among the books that it shows on a bookshelf. The advertisement did not have anything about food.

There were many who found nothing wrong with the advertisement with one person saying he had ordered a Titan watch online.

Another person vouched for its brand, while a woman, who found the advertisement “beautifully encapsulated”, said Titan probably reacted needlessly to the reaction of “Hindu TN”.

The "Dravidian reaction" to the advertisement forced many to resolve that they will buy Titan watches henceforth.

One person posted the photo of the watch and wondered why there was a boycott call when it was equipped with the rich canvass of culture, art, and language of Tamil Nadu.

The advertisement has, in fact, won more appreciation and “spot on” comments with some even saying they would like to gift it to their friends.

Kant, during the release of the collection, said the design was as simple as possible with an idea to have a mass appeal.

Going by the positive responses to the advertisement, looks like it could be a good gift item for New Year and Pongal.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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