Friday, March 12, 2010

Mad mad ad world

In this age of voracious consumerism advertisement seems to be a money-spinner for the MEDIA- its audio, video and paper forms. Huge hoardings featuring half-naked girls on prominent public places challenge the restraint levels of young and old commuters passing by – a veritable hazard of distraction in the name of attraction. Handbills and posters are everywhere, even on signposts hiding the letters beneath from view- nonchalant irresponsibility.
The consumers find the products forcibly thrust upon them through ads dinned through all our senses – a majority of them rudely shocking the finer sensibilities of many: tasteless imagination, obscenity, cunning deceit, falsehoods galore.
Anything and everything is being advertised –soft drinks, snacks, textiles, electronic goods, undies, cosmetic items, insurance companies, international business houses – the list is endless.
It has become a fact that advertisement is the axis on which global commerce rotates. Very desperate is the rat race to make money. The sellers are willing to stand on their heads to push their product down the throats of the consumer.
Some jingles are catchy and easy on the ears while many are jarring and with irritating content. Eyebrows are raised at some novel concepts while some crass ads make one frown in disgust.
If cultural deterioration is a mark of many ads, many ads with children as target audience are doing irreparable damage to their health by making them addicts to highly harmful junk foods leading to childhood obesity and related diseases.
Eminent personalities from filmdom and sports world are roped in to promote products which may not pass the tests of quality. But a lucrative job for all involved in the business with the unsuspecting consumer fleeced for all the costs

Rich investment in ads of foreign brands sounds the death knell of struggling sudhesi products. It has been asserted by patriotic Indians that if our people boycott foreign products and buy local products- be it a soft drink or a cosmetic item – just for two years our Indian economy will definitely rise to unbelievable strength.
Wealthy, greedy global business houses are surely ravaging our lifestyles, our tastes and our values. Advertisement is the powerful tool in their hands to achieve such a mass transformation.
Often feminine beauty is the lure, the hook used to bait the masses and boost business. What have the feminist movements to say about their precious essence being cheaply ‘used’ in such a brash manner?
Is it not criminal to wreak havoc in the health of a nation’s children? The scrupulously chiseled figures and features (made up artificially) of successful model girls in ads have unconsciously made them the role models for a majority of young girls and women putting their health and future at peril. Fanciful ideas of beauty make them lose their potential for living as naturally original, creative, active, achieving persons.
Itch for buying, spending is the malady of modern times. Festival offers, discount sales, clearance sales, seasonal fairs- we have them throughout the year dumping on us articles which are not basic necessities. The feeling of contentment has fled our homes and the craving for acquiring more and more has us in its strong clutches. Children and adults alike are caught in the poisonous tentacles of ad world which is active round the clock bombarding them wherever they are with seductive charm.

I cannot help recalling an old vernacular proverb which asks ‘does a flower shop need advertisement?’ meaning its fragrance and beauty would naturally draw its clients. A quality item has no real need for advertisement. Not in this world of cut-throat competition, we might be told!
It must be acknowledged that there are occasional ads which do bring an involuntary smile, a sense of aesthetic gratification by the way they are conceived, conveyed and captured. Let me mention two which pleased me immensely making me remember them with fondness: the first is a Complan ad showing a grownup boy who has learnt bicycling and takes his mother for a ride in his cycle.
It is a silent classic where the actions and looks speak volumes of eloquent affection. As the mother perches on the carrier seat of the cycle the boy takes her hand and puts it on his shoulder, an act of effusive confidence and concern. The mother throws an amused, questioning look at his father who stands looking on. In the smile with which he replies her there is a happy sharing of parental pride and achievement. Such beautiful familial images touch the heart.

The second is another silent, sweet family picture in the ad for Chakra Gold tea. A young woman with her freshly washed hair swathed in towel opens the door in the early morning to pick the milk sachet. She prepares a cup of tea for herself. Just as she lifts the cup to her lips hubby darling casually snatches the cup from her hand and drinks it off with deliberate nonchalance.
Next scene shows the lady driving home her little son from school. At home she monitors his homework with a tired, harassed expression on her face. Pleasantly surprised is she when her hubby appears holding a steaming cup of tea to her. What a welcome treat at the most needed moment!

The silent bond, understanding between the couple is beautifully brought out. Most importantly, the lady is portrayed as an efficient, educated, modern woman with roots in old, traditional values. When we started looking for a bride for our first son I told everybody I am looking for a Chakra Gold Tea girl! Friends meeting me years later did not fail to ask me if I got her. Luckily both our daughters-in-law are exactly like that ad girl in character and behaviour.

To conclude, I only request the ad producers to follow decent guidelines, ethics in their job since it involves instant and strong impact on young and old minds in this madly ad-driven world.

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