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Without Ash no ads, who says?

25-August-2005
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Without Ash no ads, who says?

Get real! Do you want to advertise for dreamers or for realists? Nike and Dove are bent on busting the myth that hour-glass bodies get the message across forcefully. Nike's fitness apparel campaign celebrating women with “big butts, thunder thighs and tomboy knees'' and Dove's Real Women, Real Curves series, which has ordinary women of all shapes posing in their innerwear for a new line of nourishing body lotion instead of supermodels, have consumers in the US and UK wanting more of such real-life women in aspirational ads.

Back home, ad gurus with some exception believe, that Indians may be getting tired of beautiful faces and anorexic bodies trying to push brands down their throat. Says Rima Gupta, country head, Henley Center, a WPP-owned brand consultancy, “Our studies show that 60% of the audience is impacted by the brand name, and not the face selling the brand. That actually strengthens the case for a more functional communication.''

Says Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT, “Brand strategy has to be rooted in the product, only then can beautiful models take them forward. There are magazines full of groovy models endorsing aspirational brands, but put the magazine down, and all remains is a clutter. You cannot associate a model with any particular brand. That's sheer wastage,” he adds.

So where does that leave the idea of making a brand aspirational? Analysts say companies tend to overstretch the idea and leave ordinary women consumers with a lingering feeling of inadequacy.

The-brand-is-not-for-me feeling could actually stall rapid expansion of sales, says a marketing head honcho of an FMCG company. “A more realistic and functional portrayal can get consumers empathise with the product idea and the brand,” he adds.

If the West is celebrating women's overweight bodies and protruding butts, India can at least celebrate its sari-clad ordinary women. While 87% of those surveyed in the US feels that ads should portray ordinary women because it's all about being comfortable in your own skin, there are those in India who feel that Indians are still obsessed with the straitjacket concept of beauty.

Says Santosh Desai, president, McCann Erickson, “While the West is sick of beauty titles, more and more girls in India are getting hooked to beauty pageants. Ads featuring real women or men can at best be an exception, not trend. But the learning curve is shrinking for India. We are getting there much faster than the Western countries.''

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