Coming from an advertising background (a phrase used very loosely seeing as to how I recently quit my job as a Copywriter with an Ad Agency here after all of 10 months), I hardly have any right to make fun of the very career that has provided for me over this period. Having said that, if I can’t make fun of the field, I certainly can make fun of the fielders!
The Indian Ad Industry is up there with the best. They’ve won awards at international fests. They’ve featured in Ad Magazines abroad. And they’ve come up with campaigns that’ve given our generation new catchphrases to quote and overkill to a burnt crisp. But with the sheer volume of commercials airing on TV these days, every so often comes an ad so unique, so distinct and so astonishingly senseless, it kills the buzz created by the good ones faster than you can say, “I’m Lovin It”. Here’s a tribute to some of them.
Mad Ad#1 : Mistdress – The Spray On BandAid
I’ll let you take a moment and reflect on the sheer inappropriateness of the name of that product. Because I’ll tell ya, it’s pronounced the exact same way it shouldn’t be.
Now, when you make the inexplicable mistake of naming a product ‘Mistdress’, a product aimed at mothers and kids, I might add, it’s hard for an advertiser to sidestep that awkward, indecorous barrier. What you look to do then is be tactful and try and divert attention elsewhere. What you don’t do is come up with a product mascot, such as the Spray-On BandAid wielding, sari-clad, superheroine type figure by the name of “Mistdress Mom”, that they did.
I tried searching for the video online, but to no avail. You guys have no idea how pained I am that I can’t share the sheer brilliance of that Ad with you. The concept is pretty straightforward. Kid gets hurt, Mom walks in with product, kid goes jumping around again. But the genius behind the idea of superheroining her up, complete with a line that goes “Mistdress Mom to the rescue”, is one to truly behold.
What really captures my imagination, though, is what other sorta capers Misdress Mom must get herself into:
- A happy marriage to break up? It’s Mistdress Mom to the rescue!
- Kids need evil stepmother after tragic death of Genetic Mother? Have no fear, Mistdress Mom is here!
I could go on, but there’s other stuff to go over here.
Mad Ad#2 : Clean & Clear Oil-Control Face Wash
The product, once applied, comes with a promise of oil-free skin for 8 hours. Fair enough, because 8 hours covers your normal 9-5 workday. ‘Normal’, however, is one term I would not associate with the girl facing the problem in the ad. See, this chick has skin so oily, she can’t get a clip-on nose ring to not slip off her nose! Do you realize how lubricated it must’ve been up there to be able to facilitate a feat like that!? Move over Iraq, the world’s biggest oil reserves are within the pores of that chick’s nose.
Why couldn’t the admen have gone for the tried and tested white hanky on the forehead, brown hanky off the forehead routine? Did they for one second, stop to realise that maybe it’s the clip that has the problem, and not her skin… Her skin which can support makeup and lip-gloss, but not a frikkin clip-on! Umm… Apparently not.
Mad Ad#3 : PCRA Infomercial About Turning Off Your Engines at Traffic Signals
Now I don’t really have a problem with the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) Ad itself. It’s the kid they’ve used in the ad. Now I can’t really describe why I wanna strangle that tyke everytime I see that ad. But have you known that guy in your class who acts like a smartass, but inside, is just a smug dumbass asking to be slapped. You can probably recognize him from his quality of managing just about average marks, but still being a favourite with the teachers. The kid in this ad is that guy, only less smartassy and more dumbassy.
The ad takes place in a car at a traffic signal with the kid sitting beside his father. The kid starts surveying the landscape and we see the engines of all the cars and trucks around him still running, despite it being a red light. In a sudden burst of ‘Eureka’ type inspiration, the kid proclaims, “Cycle Repair Shop”! The dad, confused, asks the dumbass what he’s on about. He replies, with a smug smirk that screams “Slap Me!”, that that’s what he wants to do for a living… Because by the time he grows up, there’ll be no petrol for cars to run on and everyone’s gonna be using cycles. The dad has an epiphany and shuts off the engine.
Now, there’re a couple of things that struck me here.
- If he’s so smart, why can’t he just open a cycle dealership instead of a lowly repair garage?
- If he’s so smart, how come he hasn’t heard of that Clean & Clear girl from the ad above, who’s storing enough oil in her nose to last us the next gazillion centuries.
You see folks? The reason he’s going to end up in a “Cycle Repair Shop” is because that’s the only thing he’ll have the intellect for. Of course, there is the slight possibility that he already knows that and is just using the oil conservation issue as a tool to get his dad to attest to and be proud of his shocking career plans… Which, instead of a dumbass, would make him the evilest and most manipulative child born this side of Damien Thorn from the Omen movies.
Mad Ad#4 : HDFC Standard Life Insurance
We’ve all seen the ad. Old couple at home.
Scene 1 – Old dude asks old chick whether she can still clean around the house so that they can save money on the servant.
Scene 2 – Asks her whether she can cook.
Scene 3 – Whether she can wash clothes or some such.
Old chick asks him to borrow money from their daughter. He throws a fit. Says the only thing he’s ever asked for is her hand in marriage. Old chick whips out a nice serving of sarcasm, asks him whether he did that to show her days like these in their old age. Old dude whips out 2 tickets in retaliation and says, “Nahi, Tumhe Singapore Dikhane Ke Liye”
Now, I first discussed the merits of this ad with someone a while back. I have since realized that I may have missed the point the first time around. But I shall still go ahead and pretend that didnt happen because it’s more fun this way. =)
See, from my layperson understanding of things, and the way that last conversation progresses, I can safely assume that the only way the old dude could afford those tickets was by cutting down on the luxuries of their current lifestyle, namely the house-help. So, in effect, what he was asking of his “old maid” can be represented with this slightly altered diagram that some of you may recognize from here.
Jeeyo Peeth Jhukake
Yeah. As much fun as a trip to Singapore with an old dude sounds, I think the old chick got gypped here.
Mad Ad#5 : Unwanted 72 – The Emergency Contraceptive Pill
Save the best for last, right? Well, this ad for a morning-after pill, starring the real-life couple Tanaaz and Bakhtiyar, deserves that tag as much as any. Again, I couldn’t find the video anywhere, so you shall have to do with my vivid descriptions.
The ad begins with a distraught Tanaaz lying in bed early one morning. We see Bakhtiyar among the furniture and sundries in the background frame. It is implied that they have done the dirty the night before. Clueless as any man is around a woman with a problem, the guy asks what’s wrong. In an astonishing twist, we find out it’s not the fact that she slept with that loser. It’s the fact that she slept with that loser without any protection. Understandable, as you can’t blame her for wanting to get that unpleasantness over with in a hurry?
So they’re sitting there screwed, basically, when a godsent ad announces over their television the awesomeness that is “Unwanted 72”. She takes the pill and, well……….
Now, I’m pro-choice and all for female empowerment and all that jazz. I respect a couple’s right to have a baby when they want to and not before. But there’s being relieved, and then there’s just plain being distasteful. Because after the chick takes her pill, the ad fades into a frame of the guy and the girl doing a little ball dance move. A DANCE MOVE! It’s like, “Dudes, if you haven’t realized, they just killed a potential human being!” Portraying them doing a jig may not be the most appropriate thing in the world. If it was someone like Mistdress Mom, I would still understand. But a real world couple… dancing… after murder… Sigh, you talk about innocence lost.
I would like to reiterate the fact that the PCRA Informercial is something we should all take seriously. I would like to reiterate more that I find that kid irritating as hell.