Caveat Emptier

I like advertisements.

Actually, make that, “I find advertisements very entertaining”.

As an art form, just like movies, books, drama, music, programming, cooking, sleeping at work, telling lies etc, ads have uplifted human society from the dreadfully boring world of dry scientific facts into the ethereal world of questionably scientific fiction.

But what I have a problem with is the unwillingness of companies to tell the general public that their 30 second spot and full-page spread are filled with so many lies that Mr Corporate Pinocchio would have to send a faster-than-light spaceship on a multi-year mission if he had to pick his nose.

Many years back, a radio ad in Tamil Nadu featured two loud-talking adults discussing the alphabet learning journey of one of their kids. The kid is then asked – “Recite ABC for me, will you?”, and the kid dutifully replies – “AUE”. The questioner, slightly disturbed at this wholesale rearrangement of the English alphabet, asks the parent worriedly – “Enna. Child is saying AUE instead of ABC?”.

It is at this point that the parent reassures the questioner that it’s perfectly normal because every jet pump, motor pump, water pump and other forms of pumps in their house are all manufactured by the AUE company from Coimbatore.

Now, ordinarily, we wouldn’t let the brand name of jet pumps influence a child’s learning of a language (unless of course, one is talking about Nike or Reebok pumps), but the ad is so over the top that it’s harmless.

But today’s ads are another cup of tea and masala bun altogether.

They are dead serious about their lies, and dangerously subtle about it. So here are the 10 avatats (Not to be confused with the 10 avatars of One-Who-Chills-Out-Lying-On-A-Snake-While-Creative-Four-Headed-Secretary-Does-The-Real-Work) of the Dark Lord of the Ad, Caveat Emptier.

Fishyavatar – where the He coins fishy scientific jargon such as Silver Nano particles,  and Triple filtered, Reverse Osmosized Drinking Water to fool us into believing that if it’s Dihydrogen oxide, it’s got to be superior to water.

Turtlavatar – where the He grows a straggly beard, wears a turtle-neck sweater and peddles beautiful looking, underpowered, overstylish, underfeatured products that cause a flash flood of salivary amylase once a year in January.

Boaravatar – where the Lord urges us to do to packets of chips, pizza and other heart-disease causing food items what Obelix does to boars.

Lionavatar – where the Lord shows us soaring images of bravery and courage and subtly suggests that there is a link between the consumption of the product he is trying to peddle and the aforementioned qualities.

Kidavatar – where the Lord indulges in wholesale kidsploitation (defined as the exploitation of rich, upper-middle class kids as ad models, not covered under the child labour act because well..they are rich and upper middle-class ) to sell us everything from biscuits to life insurance.

Parachute Ramavatar – where the Lord shows us scenes of despair, and then parachutes in to solve the problem with life insurance, mobile phones, detergents, bubble gums and carbonated beverages.

Ramavatar – where He is the paragon of truth, keeper of hope, defender of freedoms, general purpose superhero and peddler of biscuits.

Casanovatar – where He tells us that he is cool, smart and hip because he uses AOL email, drinks sugary carbonated water from stylish blue tins and uses words like “Bheedu”

Buddhavatar – where the Lord promises us intelligence and enlightenment, in exchange for popping Brainvita pills and watching Tata Sky television.

And finally, Kal Ka Avatar – where he tells us in no uncertain terms, that he will be back the next day, and the next day,  and the next day…

tenavatarsmall

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30 Comments

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  1. Hmm… I do miss the golden age of radio ads. The age that produced gems such as:

    “Ivan thaan my son. Ivan podura Jetti Banian Bison. Vaangungal Bison Baniangal mattrum jattigal.”

    In the transliterated form:

    “இவன் தான் என் son. இவன் போடுற ஜெட்டி பனியன் Bison. வாங்குங்கள் Bison பனியன்கள் மற்றும் ஜெட்டிகள்.”

  2. Dei, we have a ‘triple filter reverse osmosis’ water purifier at home.

    I remember you testifying that the water was undoubtedly better than a non-‘reverse osmosis’ device.

    Ashok: As the great JJ once said – When in the Rome, do the Romans. That testimonial was concocted on the spot to provide a semblance of balance to the Tap water vs TFRO water debate at home.

  3. I liked the shaktimaan bit!

    casanovatar : “uses words like “Bheedu”.
    Didn’t quite get this
    Ashok: General reference to those spiked hair, cargo trouser type smart alecs who use Bombay lingo on TV ads.

  4. totally hilarious! the parachute ramavatar reminds me of those old VIP ads, where the macho man jumps down from the balcony to save the damsel in distress…undies displayed ofcourse!

  5. i remember a bajaj-DTSi “defenitely male” ad, where the protagonist does strange stunts with the bike which reminded me, frankly , of antics done by elephants and monkeys in circuses.none of the features of the bike were highlighted. those type of ads work nowadays, i guess.the above comes under SINGHAM avatar 🙂

  6. i’m sorry but i’ll have to sue you soon for creating serious health problems i’m facing by reading your posts! i keep getting a stitch in my side with all the laughing 😛

    and don’t be surprised if some kazhagam or samiti doesn’t get you before my lawyer does for defiling their gods!

  7. u should seriously consider renaming urself Ashok “funny” krish or somethin…Sounds real dumb i know, but what im basically tryin to say that ur really funny 🙂

  8. Krish maams

    long time and great stuff!! One quick point:

    “a radio ad in Tamil Nadu featured two loud-talking adults discussing the alphabet learning journey of one of their kids. The kid is then asked – “Recite ABC for me, will you?”, and the kid dutifully replies – “AUE”.”

    Well if the ad was in Kerala, the same kid would have dutifully replied “UAE”, and gotten a pat on his back for giving the correct answer 😉

  9. If you dont like an ad, just come out and mention the company by name. Why this beating about the bush?
    Ashok: But that would be too simple, straightforward and heavens, commonsensical, no? Deliberate Obfuscation and grandiloquently pompous verbosity is the motto of this blog and it shall stay true to that motto till kingdom come (or the Shiv Sena send goons to my house)

  10. You’re right about ads and their lies. But is it fair or even factual to be holding the ad industry completely responsible? Ads cash in on stereotypes and popular perceptions.

    Yes, one can ask why they dont make ads that break stereotypes instead of reinforcing them. But ad-making is a commerical activity, right?

    Ads reflect us methinks – the stereotypes we (society) nurse. So while we “intellectuals” turn our long noses down on them, there’s precious little we’re doing to change mindsets.

    Anyways, great post. Good to see you’re in form.

  11. Andy Warhol, the prince of pop, spoke of the dual consistencies- fascination and indifference- of pop art especially advertisements. He would have approved of your ad avatars.

  12. aNNa mothalla engUru kOyamputhUra izhuthInga. sari paravallaNNu vittuttEn.

    Ana aduthathA nammAzhu Job’seyE izhuththuteengazhE. ithu nyAyamA?

    I’m surprised no one has commented on the iPod-wielding Turtlavatar! I guess you didn’t get an image of the MacBook Air – probably the most hyped & useless product from Apple in recent times.

    Forget the dasAvathAram, Steve Jobs will never be the same to me, thanks to this iCon-oclastic post!!

  13. I came from a different school of thought, where it wasn’t Buddhavatar but Balaramavatar.
    Maybe Balaramavatar where the lord tells us he will have super strength by eating boost and horlicks!
    😀

  14. @thenga…
    or perhaps the post-ramavatar is the balls ramavatar where the scene has a man who has the balls to do what’s right… thanks to the said product…
    read Bajaj ads!

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