Monday, May 17, 2010

How 'responsible' are our brands?

The TV, for me has become some sort of a meaningless drone in the background for a long time now. Recently though, I was irked by couple of ads caught my attention.


1. Relaxo footwear brand for kids: Shows couple of school kids (8 yrs or so) fighting a villain - an adult, in a crowded marketplace and looking smug at their victory and the admiration of passers by. This is serious fight mind you, like the ones you see in B'wood movies. What crap! It is a footwear brand for god's sake, can't the agency think of a better story? Where is the censor board when we need them?

2. Complan: A mom tells the story of her son who was short and hence had to endure some teasing from other taller kids (calling him 'chottu'). Heart broken, she vows to work on his height. Enter Complan and now her son is tall and she can walk with pride. So moms of short boys, what a shame, go hide your face! And yes, teach your kids to yield to the teasing - if you are teased about being short, go find a way to get taller or go hide! How wonderful!

We talk about Barbie, fairness cream ads and the likes being a bad influence, making girls take a certain biased view of beauty and so on. I see this ad as doing pretty much the same thing to boys. It ridicules boys who are short putting a lot of undue pressure on growing boys (and probably on the moms as well), poking a hole in their self esteem, making them under confident.

We all know that there's only so much a health food drink can do. There are the genes - the biggest determinants and a lot of other things that influence height and we all know that a good percetage of our population is below average height. So what are these ads seeding in the innocent, vulnerable minds? Don't these brands have any responsibility towards their audience and the society? Is selling (by whatever means) the only agenda?

When will we go beyond physical limtations and start focusing on more important things like being socially responsible, sensible, etc.? When will we start appreciating people for what they have made of themselves than what mere chance has endowed them with? Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying we shouldn't celebrate beauty, but not at the expense of making the rest of the kids feel inferior.

What's your take?

18 comments:

MindfulMeanderer said...

Agree with u 100% on this 1. have u seen the latest ad for Crime patrol? Getting a kid to explain the horrible crimes meted out to children. What are ad agencies thinking??

A journey called Life said...

I agree to what you have to say Uma, there are so many of these ads that carry subtle and not so subtle messages.. If you ask me, ad makers can show better taste, but the fact also remains that such incidents do happen in real life, where physical shortcomings (the ones that matter and don't) are taken seriously by parents and passed on to kids as well..

starry eyed said...

We don't have a TV, but I've seen that Complan ad a couple of times...and each time I've wanted to go shake the idiot who thought that up...what the hell...kids come in all shapes n sizes, so what? Why can't we teach kids to be comfortable and accepting of difference and diversity?

A classmate of my daughter's who is double her weight and taller than her by 8 inches, advised her to swim so she could grow taller...I gently told that girl, that being tall or short, thin or heavy was okay, and that swimming was for fun and fitness...she was amazed to hear that, wonder what TV has been feeding into her mind!

ssstoryteller said...

yea totally agree
who are these wierdos to instill adult thoughts into products for children...
cant they come up with some thing better

ssstoryteller said...

btw thanks for delurking on my blog:)

PV said...

Fully agree !!

Admakers just go for the "maximum impact in minimum airtime" - without worrying about any psychological consequences on the young, impressionable viewers

Complan used to have the "Valarum Kuzhandhai" ads back in the day - so much better than the "short is shame" ad that you've written about here

JB said...

excellent post Uma !I second you !
Wonderfully expressed...

artnavy said...

Completely agree with u- at least spare kids!!

Hema said...

Agree. Ads for children are made with concepts which, only adults can understand and Ads for everyone have children in them...all the time. At this rate one can maintain a separate blog for unnecessary and irresponsible ads and hit a hundred posts in a month!

Uma said...

Mindful - Haven't seen and going by what you say, I don't think I want to see it! Sounds horrible!

AJCL - Yes they happen in real life but we don't have to fuel them further, leave alone trying to change it.

Starry - I lived without TV for a good 4 yrs and haven't missed a thing. It is good that you are able to keep it out of your house. Luckily our family avoids the soaps and anything filmi. Just News and Sports, Thank god!
I agree that everything these days is done for a certain 'purpose' and 'achievement'. While that per se is not a bad thing at all, over emphasizing also takes away the 'fun' aspect. And we complain that our kids are stressed!

Ssstoryteller - Welcome here! Oh, we wish they had better sense!

PV - So true! And wonder if the censor board had stepped out for tea while they were screening this!

JB - Hey, good to see you back in action.. :)

Art - Seriously! I think we need stringent laws when it comes to ads for kids

Hema - That's a great idea...am actually tempted to start a site - banned-ads.com or something like that..

Anonymous said...

When have ads been socially conscious? Really, I think the best option is for parents to limit kids's TV watching (says the one with no kids! Chappal throwings may now commence)

As for preventive action, here is an idea: start a facebook "movement" like the "betty white to host SNL" thing. You know, like a "I HATE xyz ad" and in the link direct them to a competitor's ad (say "horlicks" or something). Once they realise they are losing revenue due to bad ads, they'll listen fast enough :)

KP

Swati said...

100 % agree , I hate the complan ad , not seen the other one though. Its not only these there are more such horrible ads , like the kids splashing mud on man and instead of apologising , saying ..its ok , Tide will clean it for free..what values kids will get from such ads ?

Uma said...

KP - 'When have ads been socially conscious?' - applies to 99% of the ads! Yes, something like a facebook campaign might have an impact..hmmm...

Swati - I'm sure there are other ads as well.. we should prolly start something like Hema and KP have suggested

lostworld said...

This fairness obsession is an Indian thing! Even today fair skin is considered synonymous with intelligence, wealth, values and whatnot. It is plain regressive.

Radhs said...

Uma,i agree with ur views completely here.But i don't think we don't have a censor board for the television itself,am i right?
I also agree with one of the comments here by KP and all brands now-a-days r doing this unruly things!!!

Uma said...

Lostworld, Radhs - Quite true. That is also because we don't react. Silence is generally taken as acceptance. Probably we should start something...I like KP's and Hema's idea as well...

Pooh! said...

I am vertically challenged and the complan ad made me livid. Another one is the Fair and Lovely dancer ad where they show hard work does not matter just skin color matters.
These ads really want me to take away cable and keep my little girl wrapped in a bubble. I wrote about this sometime back

Uma said...

Pooh - Aarrrghhh is how I feel about all these fair and lovely ads! Seriously!