There is a fine line between irreverence and irresponsibility, and advertisers need to be watchful of that
Okay, I am gonna be a little 'uncool' tonight. Yes, I do think it's great fun to watch irreverent commercials, particularly for brands targeted at the so-called Gen X.
It's a great way to break the clutter and connect with the younger consumers. Virgin Mobile ads are a good example, and they have been doing a fine job of whacky, outrageous advertising, and so is the case with many other brands.
However, there is a Lakshman Rekha between irreverence and irresponsibility, and advertisers need to be watchful of that. While offence may help the brands get noticed quickly (it's a cheap short cut… the best way to get a person's attention is to hit him, right?), its impact on the society at large cannot be ignored. Since the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India)… the desi 'watchdog'… lacks both, the bark and the bite, some amount of self-regulation becomes paramount.
Let me discuss two recent commercials to make the point (and there are more such on air). One is for Vodafone Football alerts. A dude is seen enjoying a romantic moment with his partner at a lonely park. Impatient to enjoy the game with his buddies, he leaves a life-sized doll next to her (while she isn't looking) so she can cuddle up with the thing, thinking it's her boyfriend. Not a very decent thing to do. Shows women in a very poor light, and also begs the question of safety issues, of dumping a girl alone in a desolate park. I am sure the intention wasn't harmful, but should these issues be considered while writing ads, is the question. Is this the new age morality? To treat your girlfriend like a dumb bimbo?
Another commercial is for Micromax (yes, the same cell phone that usually unleashes actor Akshay Kumar's highly repulsive laughter in its ads). This one features his missus Twinkle Khanna. She carries her twinkling cell phone to a fashion show. And smiles on cheerfully as the catwalk queens, blinded by the radiant phone, bang into each other and crash out on the ramp. Can anyone find this commercial even remotely funny? What sort of sadistic minds are the Micromax guys targeting?
Here's the disturbing trend: as competition gets harder, as ideas dry up, we can expect lots of irresponsible ads in the coming years. Advertisers and their agencies must watch out for this. You don't need research to tell you ads do impact people.
Not just in terms of product sales, but also in the way we see own selves, the way we think, the way we behave. Advertising, after all, does feed on our insecurities. In fact, public service advertising would be a sham if there was no behavioural change.
So, call me uncool if you like. Call me jaded if you like. But keep your ads cool, not crass. Let's not turn our youngsters into offensive cads.
Petrol will cost Rs3.73 per litre more, diesel price has been increased by Rs2 per litre, kerosene is dearer by Rs3 a litre and cooking gas price has gone up by Rs35 per cylinder
Petrol will cost Rs3.73 per litre more, diesel price will increase by Rs2 per litre, kerosene will be dearer by Rs3 a litre and households will have to pay an additional Rs35 per cylinder of cooking gas from today, reports PTI.
In a major decision to bring petroleum products in line with market rates, the government today freed petrol from all pricing controls and hiked diesel prices by Rs2 a litre, oil secretary S Sundareshan announced after the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).
Even diesel prices will be eventually freed of all administrative controls, Mr Sundareshan said.
The decisions, taken by the EGoM headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, were timed appropriately to take advantage of relatively lower global crude prices, which are hovering around $77 a barrel.
Besides, this would also help cut down on the government's huge subsidy bills, as also relieve the oil marketing public sector undertakings (PSUs) of staggering burden on account of selling these fuels much below the market prices.
Mr Sundareshan said that the government would, however, continue to "heavily subsidise" the cooking fuels.
Oil minister Murli Deora had, on more than one occasion, briefed the prime minister Manmohan Singh and Mr Mukherjee on the crisis that would befall oil PSUs if no decision was taken on hiking prices.
The decision would cause core inflation, already in double digits, to shoot up further.
In May, WPI-based inflation provisionally entered double digits at 10.16%.
State oil firms currently lose about Rs215 crore per day on selling fuel below the imported cost. At present, petrol is being sold at Rs3.73 a litre below its cost, diesel at a loss of Rs3.80 per litre, kerosene at Rs18.82 a litre and domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at a discount of Rs261.90 on every 14.2 kg cylinder.