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…
Click on the image to see a larger version