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And deliver us from TV ads

india Updated: Oct 02, 2008 22:54 IST
Avishek Topno

A 32-second promo can influence you for a lifetime. It’s as simple as this: you see an ad, you like it and you emulate it. Amid all this, what you tend not to do is assess the ad. Remember the seven deadly sins? Well, most ad gurus rake in the moolah by relying on the all-too-human qualities of lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. And it works.

Sample the ad: A young couple enjoys chicken at a KFC outlet and after a sumptuous meal, the girl takes a tissue to clean her fingers. Her boyfriend stops her by saying ‘Taste ko waste mat karo’ (Don’t waste the taste) and encourages her to lick her fingers.

The target group for a KFC ad is the youth and the message: lick your fingers to savour the taste. Not too long ago, elders may have admonished you for licking your fingers. This is bad manners, they would have said. But, advertisers think that this is nothing to be worried about. Instead, they turn things around with a counter-subliminal message.

Titus Upputuru, Senior Creative Director at Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) says, “Finger-licking may go against table manners but it is a very Indian thing, which I believe every Indian can associate with.”

And why the KFC ad alone? Brands like Horlicks and Reliance Networks also seem to be sending out mixed messages. In the Horlicks ad, children are shown stealing a bowl of milk from the temple to have it with chocolate Horlicks. In the Reliance ad, a love message is shown inscribed on a rock. Surprisingly, Delhi Tourism has been repeatedly airing a different kind of ad: do not spoil monuments, heritage and natural structures by inscribing on walls and rocks. Whose message does the youngster ‘take home’?

At the end of the day, remember you are the target. The message here is very clear: enjoy the ad, think about it but before you ‘follow it’, see if it’s worth it.