I have a guest! :)

I was a little apprehensive, but I still asked Amit of Mashed Musings fame to do a Guest Post for me. And it turns out, he agreed – Just like SRK says that the universe conspires to fulfill wishes of people who dream! 

Amit needs no introduction here, but for those who don’t know him, a click on the above link can change your life forever, for good. I landed on his blog a few months ago, via a few random clicks and it was love at first read. I couldn’t keep away as I can’t afford to miss a dose of humor served on a platter by this talented man who (oh so adorably) calls himself a male feminist. I wish I could find one like him. Mr Perfect, you need to be a Mr Perfect Feminist now. The standards just got higher! πŸ˜‰

Over to Amit now. 
Oh wait, a little something – SRK is still the Prince Charming he always was. But there are a few things which bother me as well, like pointed by Amit in the post. So, I accept him with all of that, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad untill death do us part πŸ˜‰
If only..
Following is a brilliant piece by Amit and I am honored to have him as a guest.
Over to Amit now. Really!

The Inception Industry

Remember the Lijjat Papad advert from the 90s? There was a family of bunnies who promoted the papads and urged the nation to eat them as they were very karrrram-kurrrram. I was flabbergasted by the advert. What does a bunny know about a papad? And why should I eat something that a freaking bunny and his wife (who wears a bindi!) eat and end up reproducing a baby bunny at the end. For a long time I thought that babies are created by eating Papads and watched my parents at the dinner table with horror as they crunched the bunny product.

Years have passed and the bunnies have vanished from the television but I don’t find the advert that stupid anymore. After all we have now seen women running after every man who uses AXE and SRK promoting β€˜Fair n Handsome’ as β€˜Mardoon wali’ cream (Men’s cream). We have seen Indians singing pumpkin-dumpling-honey-bunny(!) which I think is Mandarin. We have seen Malaika Arora breaking a walnut by a neat stroke of her hair. We have seen women getting empowered by vagina tightening creams. So yes, the bunnies seem sane now. Really.

Sometimes, it is hard to comprehend adverts that use celebrities to sell their products. Since years, Lux has been showing actresses moaning and rubbing the product all over them in foam-overflowing-bathtubs placed in bathrooms of the size of a Boeing 777 and getting away with it. That is another story that all those actresses use only imported products in reality. Sachin has been saying for years that Boost is the secret of his energy. I would have believed that if Gandhari had said that because she was still breathing after popping out 100 sons but not Sachin. If you remember his pictures as a teenager, he looked devastatingly malnutritioned. And then there are those Cola wars. There isn’t a star who has not tilted those bottles in his mouth and inspired the whole nation to follow suit. And we drank that stinging, bubbly, blackish, filled with carbon-di-oxide liquid because every star asks us to do so. Liril seems to have vanished but I could never make out any sense of the advert showing a woman showering in a monstrous and deadly waterfall and going laaaa-la-la-la-laaaa. If the advert was about surviving a tsunami, I would have made my peace with it.

What is really interesting is that most of the times the adverts do not talk about the product at all. For example the β€˜Aaj Kuch Toofani Karte Hain’ advert. You gulp a drink and jump off buildings and that is supposed to be cool? Or the new Virat Kohli advert where he flirts with a girl and then takes her picture without her permission. By the time it ends, you won’t even remember what the advert was all about. The SRK advert about demeaning a man for using a β€˜girly’ fairness cream takes the cake. A wrestler applying a girly fairness cream = him applying lipstick and nail polish. And then SRK gifts him a β€˜Mardoon wali fairness cream’ and all is hunky-dory. The wrestler is a man again. Sometimes I wish that if the amount of time and money Indians spend on getting fair was spent in getting a sensible perspective, we would have been a different nation.

Advertising is not about selling your product. It’s about planting a thought. It’s about inception. The customer must feel that the product will make his life immensely fulfilling. He should have a relationship with the product. If you have followed the advertisements that have been hitting our screens since the last decade, there has been a tilt towards showcasing the product as a β€˜family’ to the customer. Whether it’s Maruti Swift’s β€˜Hum rishtoon main jeete hain’ or Cadbury’s β€˜Kuch Meetha Ho jaye’ or Dominos β€˜Ye hai rishtoon ka time’ or β€˜Hamara Bajaj’ or Airtel’s β€˜Jo tera hai wo mera hai’, they all focus on relationships and the happiness they give and the product is very deftly slipped in. But happiness is not the only emotions advertisements thrive on. Some thrive on our insecurities. Some thrive on our social conditioning. It is the customer who has to decide what is acceptable. On a positive side, in the last few years a lot of advertising agencies have focussed on social issues and have inserted subtle messages while promoting the products. A brilliant example of this is CEAT tyres advert with taglines – β€˜The roads are full of idiots’ and β€˜Kaha rukna hai pata hai (I know where to stop)’. Another one will be Nirma’s latest where Hema, Jaya, Rekha and Sushma push an ambulance out of mud as men stand by and watch.

So, the next time they show a hoard of women washing clothes and wonder why the clothes are not white enough, think about why they never show a guy washing clothes.
The next time you see an advert where a guy on a bike performs unimaginable stunts before he reaches his girlfriend and tells her that talking is such a waste of breath, think about what the advert was trying to prove? Who rides bikes like that?

The next time they show a mother-in-law shouting at her daughter-in-law about why the utensils are not washed yet and the daughter-in-law reply back with a 100W smile that she has already washed them thanks to the new liquid soap, try to wonder why she didn’t tell her mum-in-law to buzz off.

The next time they show a person having dark skin lacking confidence, try to wonder what skin colour has to do with intelligence or confidence.

There can be nothing better than a good advertisement with a hidden social message and the media needs to focus on this. God knows this country needs some direction.

p.s. My favorite advert remains that of Close Up where a girl is hit by a tornado the moment a guy opens his freshly brushed mouth and then she falls in love with him. I had no idea girls get turned on by air coming out of a huge mouth directed towards their head. I thought it was….never mind.
[Image from here]

Don’t be overjoyed. SRK bashing is still not allowed out here. Happy Commenting!


  1. Oh . finally got to read a fine blog on ever-changing face of ad-industry in India….. where a gal shows her skin to sell man's shaving cream with charmin man SRK in mid

    totally non-sense industry but required to be like that for giving us more than one reason to laugh on !

    A good read πŸ™‚

    • Amit

      Thanks SurFerVik. πŸ™‚
      Do you remember the SRK Advert for Lux where he sat in a bathtub with Juhi Chawla, Hema Malini, Sridevi and Rekha (I think) sat near the tub. When I saw it for the first time, I was completely shocked. What was he doing?

  2. Oh god!!! what a post….Amit, you rock!!!! You had me in splits….Gandhari needs BOOST….rofl…
    Akanksha, thank you for having him write this wonderful piece of humor for us. Even I fell in love with his blog at first sight and stuck to it from then on wards.. πŸ™‚

    • Amit

      Thanks Latha. πŸ™‚ I just had an image where Gandhari says – Boost is the secret of my energy. Then her 100 sons, who are standing behind her raise their glasses and say – Our energy!!! That would have been something. πŸ™‚
      And thanks for liking my blog. It means a lot. πŸ™‚

  3. Amen to everything, except the Mardon wali fairness cream. When I first saw a fairness cream for men, I was overjoyed! Considering that our society is loathe to change, I'd rather have the Curse of Fairness foisted upon the males too!

    • Amit

      You must pay a visit to the various Men's beauty parlours that have sprouted all over India. You will be shocked out of your skin by the length to which men go to look handsome.

  4. Rachna Parmar

    I sort of like the Honey bunny song :). SRK is seriously pits, sorry Akanksha! Fair and Handsome whatever that means. I love the Ceat campaign, Atithi devo bhavo, even Idea campaigns of yore. Looks like Abhishek Bachchan only does well in ads ;-). Amit, Axe, Close Up etc. don't work on girls. But, of course, no girl would like a guy with BO and stinky mouth. Works both ways, doesn't it?

    • Amit

      I liked Abhishek's idea adverts more than this one. πŸ™‚
      I know AXE don't work on girls but I find those adverts a bit demeaning. They were not even funny to start with.
      I understand what you are saying about BO but to show that a girl will fall for you because of the fragrances coming out of your mouth is a bit too much. πŸ™‚ And yes, it definitely works both ways but they never show (I think) a guy falling for a girl who uses Close-up. I wonder why?

      • Rachna Parmar

        You make a very valid point, Amit! I don't know why girls are objectified so much in ads. Very rarely does one come across a witty girl in ads. Either they are bimbettes or just plain giggly.

        • Amit

          Also, they show boys as idiots. If the girl is fair, the boys will flock her. Yeah, that is what happens in real life too but then it is not the norm. A few of us do have brains. You really cannot choose a girlfriend or a life partner because of her skin colour for christ sake!

  5. woww !
    what a post !
    I love Mashed musings and am amused by this guest post ^_^ btw SRK bashing not allowed even on my blog=/ but ya many ads are Non-sense. vodafone zoo zoos still remain my favs where they display emotions better than humans in any ad. Like Amit said U shud feel connected to that ad !!
    Vodafones alag log alag zarurte also clicked to me !! The soap , deo , chocolate , slice all seem like revolving around WOMEN who just feel any thing can motivate them to run behind a man and — what noto.0

    To me ads should also have the fun element along with highlighting what the ad is for. If the purpose is lost, it wont make any difference who ever acts in it.

    R the guest posts done with some topic or is it just on the fly ?

    • Amit

      Thanks Afshan. πŸ™‚
      Yeah, the zoo-zoo adverts were really nice. I liked them.
      I think an advert should either have a fun element or should tackle a serious issue in a lighter tone while selling their product. But a lot of them fail on that account.
      The post was on the fly. In fact I was completely blank when I started writing this. πŸ™‚

  6. Wonderfully written… ads arent just about selling a product, they are all about mindsets… they can be pretty damaging and counterproductive too.

    • Amit

      Thanks Ash. πŸ™‚
      A lot of them are damaging especially the fairness cream advert. They don't even realise the kind of inferiority complex they are breeding.

  7. Jas

    Bang on once again. Ceat ads are my favorite too. I guess the advertising guys attack on the mindsets so the ads are actually reflection of society

    • Amit

      I completely love the 'Roads are full of idiots' adverts. That is what I call mindblowing advertizing.
      I think the kind of impact they have, they should work towards removing social evils. Being a mere mirror is no good.

  8. Amit is right when he says that advertising is not about selling….it is more about planting a thought. I mean who believes that Amitabh uses Dabur Lal tel on his head.
    I am a Amit fan. He always makes so much sense. And hes funny too.

    • Amit

      Hahah! You are bang-on with the Dabur Lal example. I am sure SRK also does not used the 'Thanda Thanda Cool Cool Powder'. πŸ™‚
      Thanks Alka! πŸ™‚

  9. metherebel

    Great post Amit πŸ™‚ There are a lot of ads these days that make no sense. To tell you the truth I hadn't thought of the ads thriving on your social conditioning… We don't actually think why it is a always a woman washing all the clothes because deep down in our minds we have accepted that it is a woman's job!!!! That reminds me Salman Khan endorses a detergent powder, although he is doing everything but washing πŸ™‚

    Few of the ads which SRK endorses just gets onto my nerves (inspite of the fact I like him). But there are a few like the Airtel and the recent Coke ad's that are really nice.

    • Amit

      Thanks Metherebel. πŸ™‚
      I think there was one advert where they showed dhobis instead of women for a change but then dhobis are fine because it is their job. Why not men in normal houses? I have washed my clothes for years. What is so wrong in that?

  10. Bhavia

    The only thing I hate about the God of cricket is the weird ads he acts in.I feel like whacking him when he says Luminous batteries jis pe desh kare barosa.The weirdest is the Ujala detergent ad in which Sachin just looks so dumb.
    I love Vodafone ads and a few of aritel ads.I love used to love mentos ads too.Remember there was a fevicol ad where Katrina is there?Even that was good.

    PS : On the secret side,as SRK is endorsing all dumb ads,I am waiting for him to endorse an underwear brand (blush)(blush)

    • Amit

      Oh yes! Sachin had his share of stupid adverts and there are a lot of them.
      Fevicol ad with Katrina?? Can't remember it on the fly. Will check it out. I am sure I have seen it.
      Even if SRK endorses an undi brand, they will not show him wearing one. Trust me. πŸ˜› You have better chances with Google.

  11. I have a theory. I think these inane ads do well(?) because they are placed in and around TV serials. So, relatively speaking, they really are pieces of art, right?
    Hehheh….Great essay. Great guest writer. Great host!

    PS – SRK is approaching the age where no amount of Fair and Handsome cream will help!

    • Amit

      But then everyone is seeing 2-3 serials in one go, so we switch from one channel to another as soon as there is a break. Sometimes, I wonder who actually watches adverts but then they are so popular. So, I guess you are right. There is something very arty and attractive about them.
      Thanks Rickie!
      I think he is the right age to promote plastic surgery. Sorry Akanksha. πŸ™ But Rickie started it!

  12. nst2

    I'm all for the hidden social message as long as it doesn't make our life boring like a Moral Science class.
    Really, I think except the matches that we see on the sports channel, everything else can be perceived as socially unacceptable. Even there, why don't we see enough female players?

    Lets not accept things that demean a particular section. But seeing hidden meaning behind everything could become too much. Just saying!

    • Amit

      Not exactly hidden but the examples I have given in the post like the CEAT and NIrma ones are entertaining and pass a subtle message as well. These are the kind of adverts that should be encouraged.
      I think there are a few centuries before our society accepts equality of genders but the mindset can be changed by adding a few sparks here and there. πŸ™‚

  13. However irritating these ads might be there is a huge section of population which is guided by them.I guess that is why they continue.But those who design them are educated–why such inanities?

    • Amit

      I completely agree. A few days back, there was a fake news article on Faking News about a cream which can make your child fairer in the womb. There were numerous enquiries about the product. People took it to be a real news. It shows how some people are insanely attached to fairness.

  14. Amit

    Thank you for having me here Akanksha! I really liked the experience of writing this post. It has been long since I did a bit of a research before writing something. πŸ™‚

  15. Bikram

    Well as pointed out Ads are made to plant a thought and they have done just that , now even a blogpost on that πŸ™‚ and i bet everyone or most of us would have clicked on the links too he he he πŸ™‚


    • Amit

      πŸ™‚ I think a lot of people might have not seen a lot of adverts I have mentioned here, so I thought links would be helpful.
      Thanks Bikram.

  16. Ashwathy

    You compared Sachin to Gandhari??? πŸ˜† That's firepower for you ! πŸ˜› C'mon give him a break…. atleast think of it this way… he drank all that boost and went on to become what he looks like today. Fair enough?

    I found that Virat Kohli picture taking ad shocking. What on earth are these people thinking? 😯
    Have you seen the new one where Kajol appears as a brand ambassador for a sweet (hajmola types – which I don't even remember the name of). She leaves a kid (who is shown to be pestering her) hanging onto the bell in a temple!! I mean what the hell !! 😐

    • Amit

      I did not! πŸ™‚ What I wanted to say was that he was not believable in the advert but Gandhari would have been. Long time no see. You on vacation kya?
      I saw the Kajol wala advert. Errr..It was a bit weird. They were trying to be funny but failed.

  17. Lovely post.. Amit you write wonderfully, will hop on your blog next..
    Well I had read somewhere “advertising is 85% confusion and 15% commission”.. So I guess that explains the logic behind these ads.. πŸ˜‰
    PS: I love the tata tea ads…Jaago re, jaago re, jaaagooo re… πŸ™‚

    • Amit

      Thanks Eyesspeak. πŸ™‚
      Hahah! Yeah, 85% confusion seems pretty accurate.
      Yes, Tata tea is a very good example too. I might have missed a lot of such examples. πŸ™‚

  18. Did you know that a guy actually sued the company after not being able to attract any girls? (I think it was in 2009 or 10)

    A wonderful post by the way!!!
    Wish everyone or at least majority would start realizing that these ads are no better than hollow promises.In fact they are deteriorating

    • Amit

      Yes, I read that news. However I am not aware whether he won the case or not. Earlier it was just AXE but it seems their secret formula has been compromised. It seems everyone is running after everyone by applying any deodorent. πŸ™‚
      Thanks Shashank. I think we are achieving a balance now. I see a lot of good adverts doing the rounds nowadays. But yes, there will always be illogical things around.

  19. purbaray

    Despite the regressive posturing women, despite SRK peddling mardon wali cream, I'll still insist Indian advertising is far more creative than the dumb ads one gets to see on American and Australian television. Never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss Indian ads.

    • Amit

      Seriously? I guess Indian adverts have the right mix of masala. There is a whole lot of variety available here.
      Maybe the fact that you miss the adverts will spark the Return of Purba (with Bhallo) ! πŸ™‚

  20. kayemofnmy

    Your parents eating papad while a little Amit looked on in horror already cracked me up and that's only the first para. Going back to read more.

  21. Rahul Aggarwal

    i believe advertisements are basically meant to fool people .. one should buy only those products which hardly has any/no advertisements (for eg : chavanprash) because they only talk about quality and nothing else. ..

    • Amit

      I think a lot of them are honest. I don't have a problem as long as they are not taking advantage of the insecurities of a common man. Fairness creams do and hence I don't understand them.
      Also, if your product is good, it will work by word of mouth and if it is bad, no amount of advertizing can save it.

  22. Everything's dished out – right from brilliant to bizarre to downright disgusting. Stereotypes never amuse me and SRK really makes me cringe each time he mouths the 'mardon wali cream' line. Yuck! [Sorry, Akansha..but really…a brown SRK talking about fairness – that too, after being loved for what he is – is just too much].

    Much of the advertisements play on our insecurities and we must use our prudence while choosing. As a copywriter, I can guess why some ads just go off on a tangent – sometimes it's because there is no substance to the product or the client is a pretentious jerk. Okay, I must hush up now. πŸ˜€
    Really enjoyed the post, Amit. Some great observations you have made there. πŸ™‚

    I must check out your blog, Akansha. πŸ™‚

    • Amit

      I have heard these stories of the client being a jerk but can you blame him? He has to sell the product and if he knows what works, he will go for it no matter how degrading it is. There are only a few people who can see beyond money.
      Products like whitening creams won't work if we don't buy them. I guess it's a two way road. Something like a snake eating its own tail.
      Thanks for liking the post. πŸ™‚

  23. Sorry,I am NOT a SRK fan.I never ever watch his movies,switch channel on his Ads. Two Ads have been hard hitting 1.. Latest Nirma Ad where the girls push the vehicle out of puddle. 2..The zing thing Ad of Gold Spot

  24. Its a earning pie for celebrities. Now if we look at the ad of maggi with Amitabh Bachhan endorsing the brand, it is absolutely necessary for the audience to understand that he is not eating it himself, just doing the promotional stuff. Ads endorsing celebrities for promotional purposes are the strategies used to woo the customers who are the followers of them . Great post πŸ™‚

    • Amit

      I agree Saurabh. We, as customers blindly follow a product because of the celebrity attached to it.
      Thanks for liking the post. πŸ™‚

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