FCB and The Times of India invite the LGBTQ community to come out via classified ads

FCB India and The Times of India, a leading Indian newspaper have created ‘Times Out and Proud’, a campaign that aims to increase the acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

While homosexuality was decriminalised last September, the community still encounters stigma and discrimination.

The campaign aims to address this via the launch of ‘Times Out and Proud’ classifieds. It gives members of the LGBTQ community a chance to share their highs, lows, celebrations and announcements via the classifieds section of the metro editions of the daily. The classifieds will be run free of charge for the duration of the campaign.

Speaking to Mumbrella about how the ‘Times Out and Proud’ was conceived, FCB India chief creative officer Swati Bhattacharya said: “Since our last Sindoor Khela campaign, the tagline for The Times of India ‘Change Begins Here’ has acquired a new meaning. It has affected everybody. This is not something for an award jury or business heads. It is something the consumers feel.

“Because of Sindoor Khela, we forged connections with different communities. There were many stories and a lot of sharing. A young boy from our Mumbai office Jason Samuel had an idea about a personal classified ad as a way of announcing coming out and we all saw merit in that idea.”

The campaign was admittedly not an easy one to execute. Bhattacharya added: “There was of course some uncertainty. There was a fear that we shouldn’t be doing anything that is disturbing to a set of consumers.”

However the team was driven by the desire to change the tenor of the portrayal of LGBTQ characters, especially in advertising. Too often, commercials in the subcontinent were set up with the sexual identity of the characters presented as a ‘twist’ in the narrative.

Bhattacharya said: “Often fashion brands have used people from the community and concentrated on highlighting the difference: whether it be in terms of sex or flamboyance.

Bhattacharya: Trying to create a new normal

“It was important for us to show them as they are. Which is just like all of us. I keep saying there’s no such thing as homosexual laughter or lesbian shyness. We feel the same things and so we need the same rights. This campaign is trying to create a new normal.”

The people featured in the launch advertising were from the circle of acquaintance of Bhattacharya, film director Jaydeep Sarkar and producer Prithvi Raj Luthra. The team realised they needed to get people who were confident about how their stories would be told and were comfortable with being on the front page of a newspaper.

Bhattacharya hopes the classifieds take off to the point where several currently acceptable behaviours get corrected. She said: “I’ve had so many trans friends tell me they didn’t know which beauty parlour to go to. One of the people I met, told me about visiting the doctor, burning with fever and being told to come after the clinic closed because the other patients would be uncomfortable.

“I want this initiative to open up opportunities. It is about how small solutions can make the big problem disappear. This is not just about verbal support. We have to make things normal: open doors. The government and supreme court can do their part but this is a problem society needs to solve. I want companies to say ‘we are looking to hire people from the community, please join us’.”

‘Times Out and Proud’ will be built around multiple initiatives across print, digital, TV, radio and on-ground events.

Commenting on the campaign, The Times of India director of brand Sanjeev Bhargava said: “At TOI, we believe in celebrating the differences in an inclusive society. The LGBTQ community has always had a place in our hearts, now they also have a special place in our paper.

“Through this campaign, we aim to provoke the readers to debate archaic notions and adopt a progressive outlook towards modern living. Acceptance and inclusivity are the two biggest challenges for all those who are born different or choose to be non-conventional.

“Through the Times Out and Proud campaign, we hope readers will join hands with us to tackle prejudices and extend a warm welcome to the LGBTQ community to live happily and productively alongside the mainstream.”


Client: The Times Of India

Creative agency: FCB India

Creative team: Fred Levron, Swati Bhattacharya, Keegan Pinto, Jason Samuel, Vishakha Khattri, Anindya Banerjee, Shailesh Khandeparkar, Nikhil Kerkar, Amol Annaldas

Account management: Rohit Diveker, Raghav Mahendra

Director: Jaydeep Sarkar

Producers: Prithvi Raj Luthra and Radhika Puri

Production house: Native Films


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