How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right.
View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
"Lessons in Advertising"
Anand Halve, Co Founder, Chlorophyll
"Don't be so serious, yaar".
I can almost hear the response this article will evoke from some people.Nonetheless, I believe it is necessary to make a statement about the attitudes and values being portrayed in some recent advertising.
At the outset, let me also address one other argument I have heard, when I raise this subject in conversations with my industry colleagues: "Yaar, people know these are only ads… they don't actually affect people's thinking".
Hello?!! I guess these persons don't realise the full meaning of their words. If that were really the case, and advertising did not affect attitudes and beliefs, all those crores should not be spent on advertising, right?
Since advertisers and agencies continue to spend them, presumably they believe that advertising DOES change opinions and beliefs. My concern, and the subject of this viewpoint, is that even as they attempt to build positive perceptions and opinions regarding soaps and shampoo, they also build negative and objectionable attitudes in other areas.
Take one of the 'lessons' being conveyed in a recent commercial for chocolates. Daddy has forgotten a commitment to meet Mummy at a certain time. A furious Mummy is on the phone talking to sonny boy, asking whether Daddy has left. Worldly-wise sonny boy sees the opportunity in the situation, and extracts a bar of chocolate from a grateful Daddy as the price of lying to Mummy.
Sonny boy - and other little viewers - have learnt the power of the bribe. (Is it perhaps the same little boy, who is seen in his grown up avatar in the Times of India TVC on bribes?!)
Such smart thinking of course only improves with age.
So we have the clever adult in a TVC for a vest, with a foreign-currency as brand name. The fellow is so comfortable in this particular banian, that "usko ideas aate hain" and he is able to confuse the retailer with some clever sleight of tongue.
The boy has become the man, and moved on from bribes to cheating.
But of course even as he hones his ability to manipulate, there are other developments taking place in this progression from childhood to manhood. On his way from school one day, he encounters a somewhat clumsy young woman in a skin lotion commercial.
As she spills fruit from a basket, he leaps nimbly to her aid, and the script and the lad contort themselves into a gratuitous posture to rub cheeks with her.Having communicated the softness of skin achieved by the woman using the particular lotion, he leaps about in a jig celebrating pubescence meeting tumescence. (Yes I know, adolescents have crushes on their teachers, and other older women, but every reality does not warrant portrayal in advertising. Incest too, is a reality, but need not be the context of an advertisement for a condom. Indeed, the very same lotion brand produced another TVC, which instead of using an adolescent boy, featured an old Chinese man, no cheek touching, and made the point quite beautifully).
In another direction of development in this kind of advertising, the young boy is growing up beyond minor things like patao-ing his dad to give him a bar of chocolate.
He has moved up to stealing.
In a commercial for jeans a young lad takes advantage of the fact that even the 'new' jeans of the advertised brand look so worn-out that he can wear them and walk out of the store without being caught for stealing. The fact that the brand name itself refers to a homicidal person may even offer further inspiration to the youth!
I suspect that the people involved in creating or approving these kind of ideas, see all life as shades of grey. "It's not sooo objectionable, is it?"
To me, there are no "degrees of virginity". Either one is a virgin or one is not.Let me, by way of illustration, narrate the anecdote about the beautiful girl at a plush nightspot.
A suave, well-dressed man comes up to her and says, "You are truly the most beautiful woman I have ever set my eyes on; the moon pales in comparison to your beauty and you drive me to madness. I want to dress you in the finest silks, adorn you with jewels that would shame a queen, and take you around the world on my private yacht! Will you come with me, my love?"
The girl looks down coyly into her pineapple daiquiri and softly murmurs, "Yes".
The next thing the man says is, "OK honey, lets' go to bed for five bucks".
The girl is outraged, and shouts, "what kind of girl do you think I am?!".
Unperturbed, he says, "I've already discovered that. Now, we are negotiating".
So is five bucks the price of character and virtue?
Yes, if you watch a commercial for an orange drinks. The question, "Peter kitne mein bik gaya?" from a hundred C-grade films is answered, as the brand's appeal leads to "character phisla jaaye" for five bucks.
In closing let me return to the thought I posed at the beginning of this article. Am I taking things "too seriously"?
Let me pose a counter question instead: In an era in which we see values being compromised more and more every day, can we take bribes, cheating, stealing and so on too lightly?
Your view will determine the ideas you choose to propagate. And thousands of GRPs of propagation is tantamount to justification.