Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Advertisements that should be banned

Despite Indian advertising being one of the best in the world, every now & then it keeps throwing up some trash. The two-most disturbing advertisements on Indian television - one of them has been running for decades - are FAIR & LOVELY and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, are some examples. They should be banned.

Products that claim that being fair is being beautiful, propagate racial discrimination. As against outright racial discrimination between "blacks" and "whites" being played out in western countries, Fair & Lovely plays it subtly.

However, I do not see a difference between the two. The message in the ads is simple: If you are dark skinned and do not get opportunities because of that, don't worry. Get rid of your dark colour, apply fair & lovely, become fair because only being fair is being beautiful and not otherwise. Success will SURELY come to you then, because all our airlines and their management are idiots; they just want you to be fair to offer you the job of an air-hostess (may talent go to hell).

Models in advertisements are shown to use Fair & Lovely to be able to achieve success when they are castigated for having dark skin. They are shown to not to choose to fight racial discrimination. On one side women fight for equal rights and on the other hand, some of them choose to work in such regressive ads.

I fail to understand how and why the Advertising Standards Council of India - a self regulatory organization governing the Indian advertising industry failed to stop such products being advertised. Could it be the clout of a giant company like Hindustan Unilever - the company that manufactures Fair & Lovely, working its 'magic'?

you may now kiss the bride, now that you have gifted her a diamond:
The above is the message viewers get watching all those advertisements on diamonds. With the upcoming wedding season, all diamond retailers and manufacturers have gone into full swing and advertising heavily on TV. The message: If you love your wife enough, gift her a diamond.

My foot. Several of such advertisements show how women get that "sparkle" on their eyes, face, or wherever else on them it may appear on, on being presented by a diamond by their husbands. No ordinary gifts would do; only diamonds can do the trick. After all, it's so easy, not to forget cheap, to get a diamond and thereby satisfy the wife.

Such advertisements give out a wrong message. I am not saying diamonds are not be advertised or bought or sold. Ads (Nakshatra diamond jewelry) like the one with Aishwarya Rai or the other one - I forget its name - (featuring Sheetal Malhar) are esthetically made and give out the message in the right way. TV is a very powerful medium and must be utilised responsibly. Advertisers and companies must ensure that the right product is marketed in the right way.

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