Saturday, January 9, 2010

Joh Dhiktha Hai, Woh Bhiktha Hai

You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough - Joseph Levine

As per Wikipedia (the modern age Encyclopedia), advertising is a form of communication used to influence individuals to purchase products or services or support political candidates or ideas. But this definition is incomplete because it does not state that the influencing is done by misinformation, false claims, and often, lies. This enrages me so much that I think I have reached a state of ‘ADnauseam’ – I get nausea, when I see an ad!

Advertising should be redefined as the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have, for buying things they don't need. In fact, advertisements make people think that they have longed for something all their life that they had never heard of before seeing the ad. Just take a look at the Sky Mall magazine in a flight, where there are products like Hollywood Cookie Diet, Aquabell Sets, Active Sitting Discs, etc.

They say advertising can sell any product and I couldn’t agree more. It is easier done these days as the world today is driven by a lot of hype and less of sense. People are willing to believe anything a scantily-clad sexy woman says on an ad. Appeal to reason in your advertising and it seems you will address only 1.37% of the human race! How else does one explain such products in the market? – Relaxing Magic Showerhead, Nazar Raksha Kawach, etc.

The sad part is that advertising has us working jobs we hate, so that we can buy shit we don't need. Advertising has also changed our thinking. Last week, I saw my wife put on eye shadow, eyeliner and eyelashes. I asked, "What are you doing to your eyes?" She said, "I'm making them look natural."

My biggest grouse against advertising is how it takes gullible common people for a ride. H G Wells said, “Advertising is legalized lying”. What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? - unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public, ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.

Advertisers have taken more money from people than what government and mafia have taken put together. Like I saw an ad last week that said, “Buy one and pay for the other”! When I asked a family friend of ours, a clergyman, about his opinion of the advertising business, he refused, but he did offer to pray for those that make their living at it.

However, I have to admit that advertisers are one of the best users of humour and sex. Though there have been no studies that link humour and sex in ads to its effectiveness, more than a majority of ads use both, and use it well. But funny for funny sake could backfire, like the case of a health club whose billboard read "When the aliens come, they'll eat the fat ones first."

It is often funny to hear the claims advertisers make. Like the claim of introduction of ‘lite’ - the new way to spell 'light', but with twenty per cent fewer letters. I am told that the first strategy of any new marketing campaign is to add the word ‘new and improved’ to the product. Isn’t it obvious that a ‘new and improved’ claim is false? - Because if it is new, it couldn't have been improved and if it is improved, it can't be new! I still remember the days when razors used to have one blade. Slowly it became two and then three. Now I hear there are four-blade razors in the market. But the quality of the shave has still been the same! Hear George Carlin’s take on advertising and advertising claims (statutory warning : contains profanity).

However, advertising has become a necessity to stay in business and I doubt if a business can survive without advertising. Though half the money spent on advertising is wasted, the trouble is, you don't know which half. I was shocked when a friend of mine, who had a good business idea, said he failed because of too much advertising. On further probe, he confided that it was from the competitors.

I will end with a quote from Philip Dusenberry, an advertiser, “I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes...”

* This blog is inspired by and dedicated to my cousin-brother Suraj

19 comments:

PRG said...

Didn't you know advertised selling is an art,
a bullock they'll sell though you don't have a cart,
they'll make you a fool and your money they'll part.
To tell you that I am one of them I don't have a heart.

Gauri said...

hahahah gd one ..and so very true ....lol also on PRG's comment above ;)

V Rakesh said...

Oh yes - advertising today has taken a devious turn to yield to the pressures of unscrupulous corporatedom and the in the bargain consumers are the ones who feel the pinch of a raw deal!

It is amazing how stories are spun around a concept and claims are made, which are totally false or unachievable in truth!

What we do need is a body that can oversee such broadcast and nip them in the bud! But, will the government take steps to do something, particularly when its coffers are being filled by the very people who 'manufacture' such communication?

Renu said...

My husband used to say that they will sell a fridge to Eskimo.

But really I think there should be a limit to false claims,now-a-days they are taking the cosumers for a total ride.

Devika said...

I was into advertising and corporate communication for a short span in my career...

I remember a quote there in the department by someone, that it was the art of making whole lies out of half truths --

whatever, it was a paying job, (and i used to a little freelancing in copywriting) -- and I absolutely loved the job :)

This was an interesting read, Salil :)

wishes,
devika

shail said...

Count me in on the ADnauseam! But come to think of it, they are a great source of mirth too (for me) at the absurdity and stupidity of most all of them.
Nazar Raksha Kawach??!! omg

I Witness said...

Hey Salil,

Nice to see you back in action ... But at some level I missed the usual Salil Magic, I guess you got a little too serious at times ... I personally love the Sarcastic Salil ... and he was missing in this (or maybe I did not recognize him)

Salil said...

@PRG:
I hope I did not prick your conscience. Hey wait a minute, how can a salesman have a conscience? ;)

@Gauri:
Thank you. Keep coming back.

@Rakesh:
Oh no, don't suggest creation of another bureaucratic organisation to help politicians to make money, unless you can get me on appointed to it so that I can make money too.
Also some people like PRG above specializes on this fare ;)

@Renu:
Oh, there are so many such benchmarks sales folks aspire to achieve - fridge to an Eskimo, comb to a bald guy, etc.

@Devika:
I like that statement - making whole lies out of half truths, or even out of quarter or even lesser truths.
Oh yes, it pays; in fact, it pays big time!

@Shail:
If you found Nazar Raksha Kawach funny, here's couple of others - a) http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm?pid=102828621&pnr=M53&cm_mmc=Shopping-_-Google-_-M53-_-102828621
b) http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm?pid=96981577&c=10982&v=&cm_sp=Recommend-_-YMAL-_-ProductPage-_-SkyRest%20Travel%20Pillow

@iWitness:
Nice to see you back here too. And thank you for the feedback.
I guess I was a bit too direct with my views here. I will switch back to my mother tongue, i.e. sarcasm.

ബോണ്‍സ് said...

I still remember the days when razors used to have one blade. Slowly it became two and then three. Now I hear there are four-blade razors in the market. But the quality of the shave has still been the same!

How true!! We always tend to think that if something is named Mach II and Mach III, it will probably (along with your beard) uproot your teeth as well. Sadly, it just shaves away your savings..so much for shaving!!

Happy shaving..sorry blogging in the New year!!

writerzblock said...

Kya kare... you have to blow your trumpet to sell..to live!! ADvertising, I agree, is a sinister art!

Mampi said...

just trying to imagine a world without advertisement after reading this.

Usha Pisharody said...

They say advertising can sell any product and I couldn’t agree more. It is easier done these days as the world today is driven by a lot of hype and less of sense. People are willing to believe anything a scantily-clad sexy woman says on an ad.

When cricket matches are shown, you seen the match on 2/3rs of the screen, and alongside, lengthwise, is a beautiful bikini clad bombshell telling you "Yeh andar ke baat hai" or some such thing, in an ad for Cement!! Gawd! How horrific!! :P

And yes, you are right about how humour is really over the top in ads... they do a good job of that at least :)

Lol@PRG's inimitable comment!

Am glad to be reading from this space after such a while. Missed being here!

Nandalal said...

Hey Salil! It's been a while.. And, seems like you got stuck up somewhere on the way.. no posts from you recently??

Mystique said...

Fight Club :)

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need"

I agree about the redundant advertisements. I love ads given that somebody gives a good though behind it but its such a rarity....

I remember the Fevicol ads a couple of years ago or happy dent white or recent Surf Excel ads, loved them..but most u c these days are crappy. Too bad.

Bob said...

I enjoyed your post on advertising, but as an English speaker only (oh, I forget, plus a couple words in Spanish), I don't understand the title. I am always asking Shail to help me with words I don't understand of course)

I have started a FB group on positive humor at
http://www.facebook.com/bob.hoff2#!/group.php?gid=134763526564332&ref=ts

Please join. Shail co-administers this page for discussing humor and posted your blog link on it. I signed up to follow it as it looks both interesting and funny.

Take care.

Bob Hoff

phatichar said...

sahi hai baap! :)

Renu said...

why have you stopped posting?

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