Not many people will disagree with me when I say that advertisements these days try to sell you things you don’t really need or just put up impossible standards of beauty and perfection that we can’t really reach. I’m pretty sure this is a universal thought but I’d have to argue that we feel it more in the third world. People trying to sell you breakfast cereals in a country where we cook all three meals with garden fresh ingredients. People trying to sell you fairness creams because “White is beautiful” knowing fully well that you need something as drastic as plastic surgery to truly whitewash your skin.
I studied film and media and advertising was one of our subjects. In doing our research, we did find that there were TV spots in the past that promoted good health and mental well being.
Case in point, this wonderful ad about doodh which is Hindi for milk. The ad has a really catchy tune about how you should drink a glass a day and all the benefits it has – it features real people, truly jolly people and I remember asking for glasses of milk just because of it.
(Transcript – Milk is fun in every season. Drink milk for healthy reasons. You will stay fit and fine and live past 99. Drink a glass full of milk. Wonderful milk. )
Or this beauty from the National Egg Corporation. It is set to the tune of, well, you’ll recognize it. To a nation of vegetarians (egg is not veg!), it tries to tell you of the goodness of eggs. Most ads those days were public service ads of sorts. Things that are beneficial.
(Transcript – The tag line for this ad is “Sunday of Monday, eat egg everyday“)
Then there was the era of fun and playful ads. This was my favourite at the time – an ad for Happy Dent White, a chewing gum that helped you keep your teeth sparkling white. Ads became more about creativity. We used to look forward to these appearing on TV more than we were about the shows.
I look at these ads with a great sense of nostalgia which has hit me like a brick because of how TV is today. It’s cricket season, which means we are being bombarded by ads, not about things that are good for us, but things that cause us utter depression. Depression. Yes.
Look at this ad for Veet, a hair removal cream
Erm, yes. Use a hair removal cream on a woman with silky smooth hairless arms. Wouldn’t it sell a product better if you used it on a gorilla?
And this one depresses me the most – it is a Kellogg’s ad about a 2 week weight loss challenge that is taken up by one of India’s best known actresses, because she seriously needs to lose weight.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m a 90 year old woman reminiscing about the good old days but am I the only one who is disturbed by these ads? It makes me realise that we create a market for it, why else would it exist? Advertisers usually play off our psychological fears and needs and if ads like these are mirrors to what we really fear, what message are we receiving from it?
Happy Moanday to you all!
Okay, Monday rant is done. I’m leaving you with one of my most favourite ads of all time – it is for English speaking lessons and how I learnt to speak the Kween’s Anglish!