21
October , 2017
Saturday

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To Marshall McLuhan, advertising was the greatest art form of the 20th century. Whereas H. G. Wells thought that advertising was legalized lying. To each his own, much like the opinions on the Indian cricket team. For a layman though, advertisements are a means of communication between the seller and the buyer. But today, they have become much more than just communication, they are a way of life, a lifestyle. They affect us more than we give them credit for. Here are 10 ways that explain how.

1.To the fairest of them all
“Khoobsurati bas mein, duniya kadmon mein!!” proclaims the tagline of a fairness cream ad. So, only if one is fair, is one beautiful and can be confident? Presumptuous much? YES, but the fairness cream industry, which has a multi-billion rupee industry in India, is only exploiting a notion that is all too fixed in the Indian psyche. The advertisements show the dark skinned women becoming successful in terms of marriage and carrier only after they become fair skinned. Being successful has to be equated to being fair. And now, men have made a foray into the world of ‘Fair and Handsome’. With more than half-a-dozen brands to choose from, the new metrosexual man is losing his hair over being fair.

 Pester Power!  Credit: www.moneywise.co.uk

Pester Power! Credit: www.moneywise.co.uk

2.Perfect lives of the People of the Perfect Planet
“Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.” said Will Rogers almost eighty years ago and it’s incredible how it rings true even today. The lives in the ads are portrayed as the ultimate way of living where one experiences nothing but pure bliss. From the infomercials to ads of soaps, every ad is caught up in recreating Utopia. And man being man, especially one with a lot of whims, wants his life to be perfect which generally results in spending more than what he requires just to make his mundane existence more fulfilling and complete.

3.“Mom! I need this and that and that”
“My kids want everything in the store. I’m afraid to take them out for shopping these days, even if it is only grocery shopping. It is a nightmare!” complains Shanta Verma, mother of a 4 and a 6 year old. Earlier, the most effective way to sell products to children was through concentrating on parents. But now, the advertisers have realized that the power lies with the kids. They have the capacity to buy not just their products but influence the buying habits of their parents too. Today’s advertisers have awakened the dormant monster called ‘Pester Power’ in kids. And with the media and technology more accessible to children, the ad-walas seem to be making their army stronger taking into stride the ever efficient child soldiers (pun intended).

4.Anti-ageing timeless beauties
Myth: Anti-Ageing creams are miracle workers and stop the process of ageing and make one look young.
Fact: Ageing cannot be stopped. It could probably be stalled, but there’s no stopping it.
These days there seem to be about a million products that claim to slow the aging process and make one look youthful once again. Aging gracefully has taken a whole new meaning. The simple logic behind the entire hullabaloo is that the ad-walas are preying upon the unspoken fear of aging, especially among middle aged women. As simple as that.

 Subliminal Brainwashing.  Credit: www.redicecreations.com

Subliminal Brainwashing. Credit: www.redicecreations.com

5.Brand obsessed junkies
The birth of brands has led to the birth of a whole new generation of brand crazy people. Be it clothing, sports and exercise wear (we now need branded clothing to sweat in!), accessories or even the place we eat at, it has to be branded. Experts say that young adults and adolescents are targeted more by the marketers because they form a huge portion of their customer base. And by using these products it’s not just the teens but also the brand that gets the “COOL” status.”I think people should exercise discretion while purchasing things. They should look for quality rather than mere brand value. Blind faith and expenditure on brands without being aware of alternatives, which may not only be better but also more economical amounts to stupidity.” says Aditya Kumar, 20, who is not a part of the bandwagon.

6.Weighty Issues
We’ve all seen the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures and the dramatic weight loss they represent. But what we don’t or refuse to see is the effect these pictures have on people. A study conducted on Health Education showed that adolescents, especially girls begin to see weight loss as extremely important leading to eating disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia in them. The ads of weight reduction centers and diets exploit the desire of people to attain the elusive ‘perfect look’, where both men and women are preyed upon. A check on weight and being healthy is certainly important but this should not transform into the monstrous pressure that is sometimes put intentionally on people.

7. Subliminal Advertising
Like the name suggests, subliminal advertising is acceptance of products at a subconscious level. How does it work? “What subliminal advertising does is pass messages or signals that are generally not recognized by the conscious mind using another medium. But the unconscious mind registers them and that can influence the mind either positively or negatively.” explains Krishna.N, a media-studies student. There have been many instances where subliminal messages have been used, both in advertising and other media. “Popular brands like Coca-cola and McDonald’s have been known to have used this to boost their sales.” adds Krishna.

 *Conditions Apply  Credit: www.saveondish.com

*Conditions Apply Credit: www.saveondish.com

8.An affair with alcohol and tobacco
With a ban being imposed on advertising tobacco and alcohol between 2004-2007 by the Government of India, the question that still remains is why is the sale and consumption legal when the advertising illegal? Well, the answer sneaks in somewhere in the form of large percentages of taxes that the government sustains on. The alcohol and tobacco manufacturers are also looking at diversifying their range and entering other areas. As a result, tobacco giant ITC has changed its priorities and has moved into areas like food, travel and hospitality with other companies adopting similar paths. But the ban hasn’t resulted in the death of alcohol advertising. Instead it has resulted in a phoenix like rise in surrogate advertising with sodas, music, parties and sparkling water being promoted by the companies instead.

9. Celebrity Endorsements
“Do you think Aishwarya Rai really uses a LUX soap that costs her 10 bucks?” asks Asmi, a student. The aura that the celebrities have and the image that they represent, be it film stars or sport stars (cricketers, in India), attracts the normal public to a large extent. The human tendency to imitate others, especially the supposed role models makes us drink the same health drink; use the same hair-oil and buy the same TV as them, conveniently leaving out the fact that the product may not be useful or necessary. “Gone are the days when you’d see a boy/girl-next door in the ads, these days you see celebrities endorsing everything and companies cashing in on the image.” adds Asmi.

10. *Conditions Apply
“Conditions Apply makes an ad two faced. The ads convey a clear idea but these words on the bottom of the screen/page make it ambiguous. Gives one an impression that the clause is a getaway for the companies if they can’t deliver what they promised” says Seema. The little star that generally appears on the price, has attached to it conditions, in almost illegible writing, that throw the customer off his original view of the advertisement. Take the SUN DIRECT ad for example; it proclaims that one can get a cable connection with a variety of channels for Rs. 99 only for a month. But at the bottom of the page, where one generally wouldn’t look at the first glance, the ad reads that another 1000 rupees will be charged for the instillation and further down is a list of conditions about the channels available and extra taxes.

Love them, hate them or love to hate them, advertisements also do a lot of good and are very useful, considering the jobs they create, the awareness they spread and the fact that they are the life-blood of the media. There will still be a galaxy of other reasons that make them an irreplaceable part of the society, something we just can’t do without!

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