Provocative ads to revive Parsis’ numbers


November 12, 2014

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Jiyo Parsi | News

Good advertising has to offend someone to work,“ said Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of Madison World, at an event to elaborate on Jiyo Parsi, a Rs 10-crore scheme, funded by the ministry of minority affairs, to increase the Parsis’ dwindling population.

By Nergish Sunavala | Times Of India

A series of ads, designed by Madison, will be released under the scheme, which has a two pronged approach of creating awareness and providing fertility treatments. The print ads, meant for Parsi publications, range from the self-deprecating to the politically incorrect. In fact, some of them might have raised eyebrows -but for the fact that they are about a section of India’s population whose decline in numbers is serious enough to cause concern and perhaps explain, if not justify, certain catch lines.

“Isn’t it time you broke up with your mom?“ asks one poking fun at 40-year-old Parsi men, who are unable to cut the “umbilical cord“. Another reads, “We’re superior. We’re cultured. We’re educated. We’re about to be extinct. Get married early , have babies early .“

Dr Shernaz Cama, director of the UNESCO PARZOR Project, which is implementing the scheme along with a number of community organizations and TISS, explained that the adverts weren’t meant to cause offence. “We aren’t trying to say that we are superior. That is just a joke,“ Cama said. “We regard every culture as equal but equally distinct.“

While India’s population has more than tripled in the last 60 years, the number of Parsis has fallen by 39% from 1.14 lakh to 69,000. There are 800 deaths for every 200 births and according to various studies, the main culprits are low fertility caused by late or no marriages, singlechild families, immigration, intermarriage and divorce.

The function was attended by Bombay Parsi Punchayet president, Dinshaw Mehta, gynecologist Dr Anahita Pandole, the project’s brand ambassador Perizaad Zorabian and chief guest, HE Masood E Khaleghi, consul general of Iran. While Khaleghi urged community members to be less “individualistic“ and consider the greater good, Zorabian spoke about the challenges of balancing a career and motherhood. She also suggested creating a Parsi networking site to cater to the “Facebook generation“.

A few speakers blamed youngsters ­ particularly women ­ for having unreasonably “high expectations“. And there was an advertisement to drive home the point. “Will your boyfriend ever be as successful as Ratan Tata?“ it asked. “Who are you to judge, Nicole Kidman?“ Another played on the minority’s fear of becoming extinct by showing a young woman outside the fire temple in Dadar Parsi Colony staring at a street sign that read, “Hindu Colony“.The bold print above explained, “If you don’t get married and have kids, this area will have a new name in your lifetime.“

Besides the ad campaign, the scheme also counsels Parsi couples on the importance of having multiple children at a young age and urges them to diagnose and treat infertility. Its medical component offers treatments like In Vitro Fertilization and Intrauterine Insemination free of charge to couples whose annual family income is below Rs10 lakh. While the non-Parsi wives of Parsi men can avail of the treatments, Parsi women, who have married outside the faith, will not benefit. “We are governed by the government’s Parsi Marriage and Divorce act, which is patriarchal.Therefore, if a boy marries outside, his children are accepted into the fold whereas a girl’s children are not,“ said Cama to explain the scheme’s discrimination against Parsi women with non-Parsi spouses.

Already the scheme has had a certain degree of success with the delivery of a pair of “bouncing“ twins and two baby girls. Over the course of the next six years, it hopes to facilitate an additional 200 live births. At an overall cost of Rs 10 crore, that is Rs 5 lakh for each precious Parsi child.


Ad campaign tickles funny bone to urge Parsis to have more babies

Article by Jyoti Shelar Mumbai Mirror

 Be responsible. Don’t use a condom tonight.

Isn’t it time you broke up with your mom?
Will your boyfriend ever be as successful as Ratan Tata? Who are you to judge, Nicole Kidman?

From making fun of the unmarried Parsi men in their 40s, who are still living with their moth ers, to taking a dig at choosy women in the community who want extremely well-to-do husbands, the Parsis have gone all out to laugh at themselves and make a point`make more babies’.

On Monday, the community launched a first-of-its-kind advertisement campaign to tackle the issue of their dwindling population. Ad veteran Sam Balsara and his team at Madison, known to have worked on several campaigns for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have designed the campaign to urge Parsis to make more babies. The campaign also urges couples to get medical help under the Jiyo Parsi scheme that funds infertility treatment for couples.

“We wanted to appeal to young couples without the ads looking like sermons. What would be a better way than making fun of ourselves,“ said Lara Balsara, executive director at Madison World. More than 15 quirky print advertisements will make way in the Parsi press and the digital media in the next fortnight and the campaign will be led by actors Perizad Zorabian and Boman Irani.

“We have used real Parsi people depicting their real relationships in the ads,“ said Balsara. One such print ad is of a couple who recently delivered a baby girl after their infertility treatment was funded under the ministry of minority affairs scheme Jiyo Parsi which was announced in September last year.The woman, Persis Kamakhan (35), and her husband Asti had the baby after 11 years of marriage.

With a funding of Rs 10 crore, Parsi couples having trouble conceiving can undergo in-vitro Fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination (AI) and other infertility treatments and get the money reimbursed under the scheme.

The attempt at being witty, however, did not go down well with all the community members. A young woman felt that an ad depicting a woman looking at a Parsi Colony renamed as `Hindu Colony’ which stated “if you don’t get married and have kids, this area will have a new name in your lifetime“ was offensive. Sam Balsara, however, promptly addressed her concern saying he will not run the ad if it appeared offensive.

The Jiyo Parsi team is hopeful to add at least 200 more Parsi babies to boost the population. While a pair of twins and a baby girl have already arrived, about a dozen babies are due in the coming weeks. “We are positive the campaign will bring about a difference and reach out to the young,“ said Shernaz Cama, member of the executive council of Parzor, a project to preserve Parsi Zoroastrian heritage that is working on the campaign with Madison.


The city’s Parsi population is estimated to be 40,000. The community also has an extremely worrisome birth and death ratio, with merely 200 births annually as compared 800 deaths. The declining numbers have been attributed mainly to late marriages, several choosing to remain single, couples deciding to have only one child, infertility issues and marriages outside the community.


You can see the entire updated ad campaign here: