Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Ads

There were a couple of advertisement boards that caught eye today on the way to office. Not because they are any good. On the contrary, they are pretty bad. But they do not attract my attention because of their flagrant “badness” either. It is what the ads imply that pains me, irritates me, annoys me,…hmmm…in some cases angers me as well.

The first ad was for this product called Memory Plus. Apparently the tablets, if taken regularly, help in energizing your memory, and help you remember better. Until this point, I have no objections. There is a product, and this is what it does. Fair enough. Now comes the…hmm…let’s just call it “thing”. The ad goes on to proclaim how you can study well, crack the exams, study even more, and finally become a success. Let me not even get to how “success” is defined here. Of course, these ads do not leave it at that. They always have to depict the contra. And that is done by showing how a kid with poor memory sulks, and looks dejected. And this is where I get angry. Why the heck is how much you remember a barometer of what you would achieve in the future! Our education system is flawed precisely because of this premise. And we have products which go on to jeer at those that really do not “succeed” in a flawed system. Isn’t there something called sensitivity???

If this ad hasn’t done enough to get me riled up, I don’t have to wait longer to be served the full course. It is literally from the “deep-end” to the “shallow extreme”. If the previous ad was trying to impress upon the people the importance of a non-tangible characteristic, this is right opposite. The product goes by the name Fair & Handsome. Quite a segue eh? Again, just like the memory crap, this has its starting pitch of making a dark guy fair, or a fair guy fairer. No objections. I repeat, there is a product, and this is what it does. Fair enough. But not when the ad goes on to depict the supposedly “sad state” of the dark guys. You know what…let me not get angry. I actually have a proposition to make. I’ve seen the TV ad for this particular product. And sadly, it seems to be a throwback to the earliest archaic Fair & Lovely ads. C’mon guys!! move with the times. Here is my concept for the ad:
Cricket selections are going on. Person X sucks at bowling, batting, fielding, keeping, etc. And worse than this is the fact that he is dark-skinned. (shudder!) We have his elder brother dropping an F&H tube onto his lap. Voila! What a transformation!!! He goes, all fair, to the cricket camp. And obviously get selected. Now comes the match. [I feel we can get the Fair & Lovely team of Genelia & Srikkanth for the commentary part] And our man strides onto the crease, and is out for a duck. The commentators go, “Oh Cheeka. He can’t hold a bat properly, he can’t bow…he can do nothing actually. But what a find for India!! Look at that white skin of his!!!!!!!!”

People! Grow up! I remember this guy who had come to our IIMB campus and said quote proudly on stage, “If we Indians have the mentality that being fair is always better. That being dark is bad. And if a rival company shows a person using their product becoming an air-hostess, then I find nothing wrong in showing that our consumers go on to become pilots!” And there was applause. I repeat. Applause for that!!! And we wonder what is wrong with this country. Sigh!

The longer we tend to get ourselves ensnared in flawed systems that place emphasis on the wrong parameters, and the longer we reinforce our shallow perspectives with even cheaper struts, I do not see this country going anywhere. Absolutely nowhere!!!


At 1:35 AM, Blogger Srini at the Movies said...

I think for far too long, we've had these fair-dark, tall-short, fat-thin,"smart"-"dumb" stereotypes where we think that one is better than the other. Why only us? In many "developed" countries, there is still discrimination based on things like color,race,ethnicity...the so called glass ceilings.

So, I would'nt blame these guys for making such ads. They are merely trying to cash in on the popular sentiment. FnL makes its product because it knows there are n number of guys n girls who will buy it in search of a supposedly superior existence.

If anything, that (un) popular sentiment needs to be smashed with a more equitable and tolerant view of diversity. But, theres definitely a vicious cycle here with these ads and the way ppl think.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger sudeep said...

Fair and Handsome!!! Man!!

I dont know why guys are obsessed with the "Fair" sentiment...

But at the same time I kinda liked the Toyota Corolla ad with Rahul Khanna and some model.....Or probably a Rex Bailey kind of Personaltiy! That captures a guy's sentiment properly (i think! )

But AXE EFFECT just dupes consumers with clever ads...

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Randhir said...

I get your point. Some cliches keep getting emphasised in the ads. But I think they do the trick in terms of what their manufacturing companies want.

They anyway are appealing to the mass who feel that becoming fairer or being better mugpots will change their lives and not to the more sensible folks like you and I. So what do they care about social good or even our opinions on their ads.

Just a side note. You should see some of the ads in the US TV channels. You'll be left wondering what products they are advertising even after seeing the ads a 100 times.

At 3:11 AM, Blogger J said...

Ad 1:
Ad is bad. I cudnt agree with u more on it. But wots the thing abt bringing the Indian Education system into the picture?

Ad 2:
ROTFLMAO. The TVC sucks again. Haven’t seen the hoarding.

Moving away from that… did u know that 60% of the base of fairness cream users are men. So I think this thing as a product innovation is a good one. Oh btw, it’s called a complexion enhancer instead of a fairness cream, in case u didn’t know.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Sridhar Raman said...

Maybe someone needs to set the precedent in breaking these fixed mindsets. That might help...but knowing people, I still doubt it.

Very true. But "obsession" is actually quite close to the truth. Beats me though...

Forget non-sensible folks. I think there would be a lot of sensible people who fall prey to this trap, which is quite appalling.

Hmm...I don't subscribe to our system which places more emphasis on performance based on how much a student can remember.

"complexion enhancer"?!! Hmm...so would that enhance the dark colour for a dark guy, and the fair colour for a fair guy? :)) Sigh! Shallow world we live in.

At 5:09 AM, Anonymous U know me well enff said...

2 Ad: All what i know is that the ad cater for a particular market segment who thinks that the product is essential for them. I am not sure if there is a problem with the advertisment( In fact it captures the sentiment of those people very well). There is a problem with the mentality of few Indians who think fair skin has to be adored.But i think soon there will be a time when people wil realise that whats important is how you carry yourself.


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