Ranjona Banerji: Irritating ads that irritate

28 Jun,2012

Ranjona Banerji

By Ranjona Banerji


Am stepping on a few toes here and other people’s territory but then wothehell. As much news as you watch on TV (or as much TV that you watch, be honest) you’re forced to watch as much advertising as content.


And sometimes it’s fun (like Hari Sadu and naukri.com) or even the poor chappie who thinks he’s eating chicken, but it turns out to be a doggie. Or Fastrack’s funny series on the risqué side with Genelia D’Souza and Virat Kohli. Or even the Flipkart ads where children play adults.


But what does one make of Priyanka Chopra squirming about on the ground to a song that does not match the bizarre dance she does as she tells us she hates the “chip chip”. All that happens for Garnier is that most people throw up and switch channels.


Through the telecast of Wimbledon on Star Sports you get to hear that “amazing Thailand always amazes”. Well, duh, couldn’t they think of another word? Or has someone done Thailand tourism in?


The Kelloggs ads with that vastly annoying mother who does something as simple as throw a few almonds on a bowl of cereal and pretends she’s invented sliced bread is anodyne as such ads normally are.


But the winners of the most irritating ads have to be Reliance Foundation and Coca-Cola. Insensitivity seems to rule the Coca-Cola ad in which a group of not very well off (how do I say this politely?) children play cricket in some dusty desert scrub land as a voice over tells us poetically how they have no cricket bat, ball, stumps, the pavilion has no roof and so on and ends some poignant note about how this is not play but the call of the earth or something. Then Sachin Tendulkar with his strange new hairstyle drinks a Coke and says play on. The children and Tendulkar never meet and you get the feeling that the children cannot afford to drink Coca-Cola, certainly not one each.


And there’s the Reliance Foundation. I’m not getting to the connection with the programme Satyamev Jayate. For one, the ad looks like a copy of the Vedanta ad, which claimed to be saving the lives of various village children with schools and food and making their dreams come true. The ad ran into as many problems as Vedanta does with its mining projects and the company’s attempt to redeem itself with this real or exaggerated NGO social work effort did not work.


If indeed Nita Ambani is moving into social work, an ad that copies an already discredited ad is surely not the best vehicle. Also, the figures put up for the number of children fed or schooled or clothed is embarrassingly small for a company the size of Reliance. Even worse, Nita Ambani’s look is so carefully crafted that it looks just that. Also makes her ears look unnaturally large.


Hidden persuasion is fine. But these are attempts at such blatant manipulation that they are not just exploitative, they may not even work.


For those interested in advertising and how it works, try and catch The Gruen Transfer on the Australia Network or Youtube. Hosted by Australian comic Will Anderson, it is funny, incisive, intelligent and hard-hitting. And did I say funny?


All right, I’ll watch the news from tomorrow.


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2 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: Irritating ads that irritate”

  1. Naukri Box says:

    Please keep posting like this.

  2. vijay says:

    Ok…agreed but why take a dig at Sachin (“strange new hairstyle)??? There does not seem to be anything strange about it…!