Sunday, 15 August 2010

FREE*DOM


It is Independence Day and the newspapers are filled with
advertisements.

That shouldn’t be a surprise because it is also a Sunday, a day when the mighty middle class (MMC) of India wakes up late and picks up the newspaper in the hope that there will be something in there that will wake it up with a jolt – like a ‘Buy one get two free offer’.

Today the MMC would have suffered multiple jolts. Here are my Top Eleven* Picks, why not ten you ask? Hang on until the end and you will be get the answer. Thanks for cheating and going to the end right away.

Talking of cheating (there he goes again, on a tangent, like a crazy ball banged with too much force), there is a law that says the Indian National Flag is sacred and its sanctity is not to be violated by using it in advertisements that are nothing but messages released for commercial gain. That is, the Government can use the flag in its ads because they are not released for commercial gain. In fact, they are released for commercial loss because no one believes in their messages and money spent on them is like money spent on the Commonwealth Games. 

Damn. That’s a tangent within a tangent; this ball is crazy.

But the advertisers have learned the first law of tackling Indian laws. Where there is a law there is a loophole. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that the all the laws in India have been formulated by a committee in this fashion:

Committee Member 1: Here’s a loophole.
Rest of the Committee: Great. Now let’s build a law around it.

The ball regains its sanity and returns from the tangent. The savvy advertiser has known for a long time that the best way to exploit the loophole is to use the Indian National Flag without the Ashok Chakra. Yeah, just use a saffron-white-green flag or just the colours and voila! You have used the flag without breaching the flag code. It is like the pre-liberation era Hindi movies. Hero and heroine come close-closer-closest. Cut to two pigeons ‘beaking’. There, you have showed a kiss without getting the members of the censor board all aroused. Sorry, without getting them all pissed off about your movie not upholding the sanctity of Indian culture. This practise, of pigeons beaking, had to be discontinued in Hindi movies because of the arrival in India of a group called PETA (as explained in an earlier post, the letters stand for Pornography for Ethical Treatment of Animals). The movie producers and the censors agreed that showing a kiss on screen was a lesser evil than grown-up women showing up at every street corner wearing nothing but a pigeon feather.

The ball is truly bouncing all over the place today. Time to rein it in and get on with the Top Eleven:

1] Special Freedom Blast – Mix Hummus for Rs. 63.
Ah, it’s not only the ball’s that crazy today. It’s also the brains of advertising professionals. Please pause to appreciate the many-layered offer: A recipe from Lebanon with the word ‘Blast’ in its name and offered at a price that is the same as the number of years of Indian independence. Take a bow versatile advertiser.

2] Celebrate 63 years of freedom with XYZ. Take home an XYZ product for just Rs. 63*. 63 years of independence. 63 years of progress. 63 glorious years. To celebrate this 63 years of freedom all you need is Rs. 63*. Buy any one of the products mentioned below… and bring it home for just Rs. 63* and pay the balance in 10 equal monthly instalments…
Notice the subtle use of 63! And the sincere and heartfelt effort to make its products available to all Indians at a low price of Rs. 63! Like all great advertising this one has a great consumer insight too – Large swathes of this great country have people who earn Rs. 63 a day or even less. Socio-economic consideration in promotional offers is rare or non-existent… But what’s this? The offer is valid only in the top 5 cities?! Ah, that’s a minor thing of course. After all, every offer comes with a disclaimer, ‘Conditions apply’. Here it probably means, ‘Conditions apply. Ordinary human beings need not’.

3] A little step by our Government
A big leap in our lives
Best wishes on Independence Day
This one is from the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation. The ad has one picture of the urban poor and lots more of political leaders. This is a classic ad where the full meaning of the text can be understood only when you see it along with the pictures. So let’s put those two together: A big leap in our lives + Pictures of political leaders. And, 
Best wishes on Independence Day + Picture of the urban poor.
Classic.

4] Maharashtra, the arch-performer, the torch bearer, the glory of India salutes the Tricolour - This one has been released by a department of the Government of Maharashtra. Hello, isn’t this a message to celebrate the nation? Then why are all the glorious nouns in the ad about the state releasing the ad? For the answer refer to the unwritten book, Golden Rules of Indian Politics, page 1: Blow your own trumpet. Follow this by beating your own drum.

5] Introducing the Cent Swadesh Term Deposit announces this one from a nationalised bank. I think this headline is lifted straight from an international advertising awards book and in the hurry to get it out everyone involved forgot to replace ‘cent’ with ‘paisa’.

6] Enjoy your freedom with Quick Heal Independence day offer says ABC, India’s No. 1 AntiVirus Software. Scathing! The only one to admit that India’s independence is riddled with virus like any other software and needs healing. Gandhi caps off to you.

7] Freedom to live a better, healthier, happier life. This Tagoresque line of poetry comes from a group that dabbles in foods, properties, financial, media, infrastructure and construction and energy. I am still trying to make the connection but maybe I need to attend a poetry appreciation class first…

8] It’s your Independence Day. Cheer the loudest today. Raise the flag. Cheer even louder. And celebrate your Independence Day like never before. Pick up a PQR phone and celebrate your freedom.  I just wish this Japanese company would stop saying, ‘your Independence Day’ and ‘your Independence Day’ and ‘your freedom’ and tell it that after 63 years of independence we don’t have to depend on Japanese goods to celebrate. We now have the freedom of choice from Korean, American and European goods (all made in China of course).

9] We tripled our production capacity* because India’s progress cannot wait. 
I just wonder why this cement company had to wait for 63 years to do that. Had they tripled their production capacity* (*conditions apply) in 1947, we would have progressed far beyond the USA by now. Damn! Damn!! Damn!!!

10] Azadi ke shubh avsar par, ab lelo sapno ka ghar. 
Someone’s recycling Diwali, Dussehra or some other festival ad here. Or has confused Independence Day to be another festival – The date is red on the calendar and it’s a public holiday; has to be a festival, huh?

11] Do it the Indian way. 
No, it is not an ad for what you are thinking you dirty bugger. It is an ad for a Japanese manufacturer of calculators and musical keyboards who has realized that if its profits have to go North in the new world order, things have to be done the Indian way.

*It is our Independence Day and I am not the kind to be left behind. This is my offer: Read Top Ten offers on this blog and get the eleventh absolutely FREE*
*Human? Don’t bother to apply.

2 comments:

  1. No.10 is a game, tradition, convention-changing idea! I-Day is now a festival!
    But seriously, I had been to my cousin's place on I-Day, and there were poojas happening all around, like it was some festival!

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  2. It's dam amazing and so true.... a very good take on Fee-dom!!Loved it :)

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