Tuesday, September 02, 2008


“A pretty face almost always sells a product.”

This perhaps is the sole motto on which the Indian advertising industry runs. If it is a premium bathing soap that is your product, get a young actress, throw in a waterfall or a lake, a ‘just about there’ dress, pulsating music in the background, and get the pretty young thing to prance in the water; and hey presto! You have got your advertisement. Does the summary ring a bell? That was a description of the Lyril ad that launched Preity Zinta’s career; she captured the imagination of millions with her dimpled smile and cute looks. Sadly the rumored botox treatment has made her smile artificial today. Then all the Lux soap ads with the beauty queens of each era-Dimple Kapadia, Karishma and Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, and then they did a complete U-turn and had Shahrukh Khan surrounded by a bevy of beauties selling Lux soap! Yuck! The height of metrosexuality.

The soft drink ads-Aishwarya started with Pepsi then endorsed Coke, now we have Deepika Padukone endorsing Pepsi.

Then we had the ads for detergent powder, washing soap, and dishwashing soaps.

Some ads that remain fresh in mind are:

The Washing powder Nirma ad.

Ariel ad where in the lady says, “Daag dhoondte reh jaooge.” The small boy who appeared in that ad is none other than Kunal Hemu who is a Bollywood hero now, with three or four movies to his credit.

One particular ad that brought out the wonderful relationship between an old lady and her grandchild was the Borolin ad, I do not know how many of you remember it. It had a wonderful jingle that went “Antiseptic cream Borolin, Borolin, ting.. ting.. ting”

The Rasna ad where the chubby little girl says “I love you Rasna.”

An all time favourite ad would be the one for Woodwards Gripe Water, three generations of ladies describing the merits of TTK Woodwards Gripe Water-

"Are kya hua?"
"Bachcha roraha he"
"Tum use Woodwards gripe water kyu nahi pilathi? Jub tum bachchi thi, toh me bhi tumhe wohi pilathi thi"

These are all examples of some of the good old stuff of Indian advertising. The current trend of using women for products not related to them at all isn’t healthy.

Why do you need women in an ad for men’s underwear?

The Lux Cozee underwear series of ads is extremely insulting and the Regulatory Authority was correct in its decision to ban it. A woman is shown washing a brief and fakes sensual pleasure in her action as other women stare at her. Downright cheap!

Similarly I do not understand why you need a woman in an ad for a Gillette Mach III razor.

Women continue to be used as glamourous accessories to sell a product. It is the same sorry story with the Bollywood film industry. They used to run with the hero behind trees, now they wear swimsuits and run on a beach in Bali or Phuket. They are very few movies that give women a solid author-backed role and give them a chance to showcase their talents. A bit of a lengthy role and 9 out of 10 the lady gets to play a negative role.

The government has to take strict action against producers who portray women indecently. A movie is branded as adults only, but what about ads that are broadcast on television. Some ads border on sexuality and make veiled comments. Remember the rediff ad. “Is it really big?” Or Bipasha’s Panasonic mobile ad, “I will dance with the man who has the smallest?”

Somehow I find the ads for all the sanitary napkins strange. Do we need them to be advertised, same for underwear, people know what essential to buy and use.

The consumer is not going to be coerced into buying a product because a beautiful woman or for that matter if a hunk endorses it. They might try it once but if they do not find it satisfactory they are not going to use it.

It is time that sensible ads were made with women being given respect.

I guess that will not be accepted by the ad gurus and celebrity endorsements won’t work, so things will remain as they are now. :)

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