It is said, ‘Don’t worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you’. This video by Child Friendly Australia just elaborates that point in a much deeper way.
I think advertising is depicted as the coolest profession around the world – Mad Men’s popularity notwithstanding. Across films, across genres, whenever one wants to show a hero as witty, smart, stylish, rich, of course with a lot of women hovering around, he is shown as an advertising executive. Of course, some Bollywood movies take the cliché further by usually making him work on an ad campaign for condoms: ref – Jhankaar Beats. I think I came across this cliché in some chic-lit humour as well with a woman protagonist. But then, we have also had What Women Want, haven’t we? There are too many to actually count. Makes sense by the way, how appealing is a hero working in his cubicle day in and day out, sweating out his engineering degree? Or that of a tax collector? Or an accounts officer?
Although, what I understand of it is that it is the most value-destroying endeavour there is on this planet. Success in advertising depends on the extent to which you can lie and to which you can dress it up so that it manipulates people into buying your product. When I say value, I don’t mean value as money. I mean value as values we try to inculcate to nurture a better society. You think I am stretching it too far? Am I really? Do you really think hot women will buzz around you like bees if you buy a particular bike (Pick any. They all use the same peg)? or wear a particular deo (Axe, the worst offender)? Do you think you can get ‘intimate’ with someone by sharing a bar of chocolate – (the Kiss Me campaign by Dairy Milk)? Do you think telling convenient white lies makes you smart and desirable (Virgin Mobile)? Do you think insulting someone by calling them ‘uncle’ makes you the happening youngster (Samsung)?
And, I must dedicate a special para to the fairness cream ads. I think these to be the lowest form of advertising. In fact, let’s call a spade a spade: advertising is a euphemism for creative lies. If any of these companies came out with the absolute truth about their products, they will start a much healthier trend. Advertising should be about communication and information and a proliferation of responsible and healthy ideas. Everyone rues materialism, capitalist consumerism, superficiality in our public lives at some point of time in their lives. We must keep in mind that advertising is a vehicle for all of these.
The media initiative cited above is a healthy trend in the direction of creating a more authentic world.