Monday, June 22, 2009

More Ad Agonies

These days the ads are addressed to a clientele with an IQ far in excess of my own. Whether I have an unnaturally low IQ or whether the standards have gone up far beyond the levels achieved by my generation is a moot question.

Take for example the Pepsi ad where the young chap climbs over all sorts of junk including some clad in suits while repeatedly yelling “I can’t hear you’. When he issues his climactic yell of “I can’t hear you” with guitar in hand, I don’t know whether the audience was intended to get the message that the young prefer not to listen to the old. All I could think was that if Pepsi wanted to communicate the message that drinking Pepsi would render you deaf, this ad would do a fine job of it though it beats me as to why Pepsi should want to communicate such a message. There are enough people sending out messages about what they think are the deleterious effects of colas on various parts of the body so why should Pepsi be spending its ad budget on one more such message?

The Vodafone zoozoos absolutely beat me. I know I am in the minority here and it is quite likely because of my bias against those squeaky cartoon voices but these zoozoos really got on my nerves. Oh! The messages were simple enough but having seen them once, it seemed to be a real test of patience to wait through three cartoon characters troop in one after the other into a room and come out yelling in order for you to be told that beauty tips are available for a monthly price. Of course, with any ad, once the denouement is known the element of surprise is lost but you find it possible to sit through them simply because the faces and figures are beautiful enough to hold your attention. Whatever else one may claim for the zoozoos, beauty, I am sure, cannot be one of the claims – unless the eye of that beholder is seriously skewed! (Serious flak here, I suppose, since cute is next door to beauty and an amazing number of people found them cute!)

The ad for Maruti Estilo(?) was truly wonderful. If only my father had known that the reason why my school friends did not find me attractive was because he did not own a Maruti car! Where he would have gone for a Maruti car in an era of Ambassadors and Premier Padminis is not the point – it is merely the principle of the thing! The idea of solving childhood angst by throwing big cars at them can only strike a stupendously creative and socially aware mind! I have no doubt that all the people concerned with the ad went home and duly complained about the ‘pester power’ of their children!!

Having groused against one ad for being too complicated and another for having been too simple, you would hardly be surprised if a complaint against spreading social extravagance is followed by one against frugality! There is this Hamam ad where the mom sends her daughter out to buy soap. Since she didn’t tell her what soap to buy she gets anxious about her daughter’s entire future being spoilt because of her purchasing and using the wrong soap! I am a votary of frugality, all right, but this mom’s reluctance to throw the soap away - even though using it would, in her opinion, spoil her daughter’s entire personality and future – seemed like carrying frugality a bit too far.

From what I see from ads, I live in a world of women busily working at becoming fair by way of using ‘Fair and Lovely’ in order to attract men, who are on the hunt for ‘Fair and Handsome’ so that they can attract women! Deodorants, which are supposed to de-odor you i.e. rid your body of smell, are advertised for their fragrance which will – surprise, surprise – attract women to you. The entire fashion industry is in imminent danger of being run out of business. When you can attract women merely by brushing your teeth, why do you need all those fancy and expensive expedients? I have to log out now since I have to log in to ICICI Direct to short the entire gamut of fashion houses.


  1. Dear Suresh,

    Good write up! I am also with you on those zoozoo's! But I am told Vodafone blew up a heavy amount making those off-beat ads and they have clicked!

    As for the Hamam ad, what is implied is that the daughter will buy the bad soap and go for a bath without ever letting her mother know that she is alreay in the bath room and even one bath is sufficient to to the damage! And can you imagine, the first version said " aiyo! en peNNukkuk kalyaaNamE aagaathu!" until some feminists protested strongly to get it changed as "her entire future will be spoilt!"

    Some more ads which irritate me are " XYZ mixiekku naan guarantee!" Who cares for guarantee, however sovereign it may be, by a non- descript ad film actress?!

    Another tid bit: Muthu Nedumaran, a Tamil software developer from Malaysia, was shown as buying his clothes only from a particular shop in Chennai, postponing the purchase to coincide with his annual visit to India. When I congratulated him, he wrote to me that it is not he but a model and his name was misused even after he had refused to act in the ad when it was originally offered to him!

    I once wrote strongly to a mobile company against teasing the entire Tamil community by portraying an accountant named Mahalingam who is shown drooling, engaging himself in talks with "Call me please" numbers! They didn't respond.

    I was also upset when a lady celebrity from a respected artiste family in TN promoted a particular brand of broiler chicken on TV! After all, everyone knows that her father, grandfather and cousins were very orthodox and never ate chicken!

    Again about horrible translations! 'tEdha hai phir bhee mEra hai!' is translated in Tamil as 'kONal aanaalum ennudaiyadhaakkum!' I feel like shouting"enna ezhavudaa idhu?!"


    Cinema Virumbi

  2. Dear Ramesh,

    As far as the Hamam Ad goes, if the mother's only worry was that her daughter would take one bath with it, she would have been better placed to stop it by staying at home rather than running after her:):).


    C. Suresh

  3. Dear Suresh,

    After reading your writeup and commenting once, I carefully observed the Hamam ad twice. They have sort of anticipated your legitimate concern against execessive frugality! Having sent her daughter to buy a soap without mentioning the brand name of the soap (of course Hamam!), the mother panics and runs after her to the grocers, only to be told that the child had already left with a soap. With more panic, she rushes home to see her daugher come out of the bath room after a shower, all praise for the Hamam soap she had brought herself, without a tip from her mother!

    How do you like this?


    Cinema Virumbi

  4. This Hamam ad is one of the reasons i stopped watching Sun TV :) Not that it has much to offer on weekdays but i used to watch it on weekends. but now i dont dare to switch to that channel and see that irritating and stupid ad. Maybe they were going after the nag factor.