Saturday, February 13, 2010

TV ADS

There was a Book Fair in New Delhi from Jan 30th to Feb 8th. My son, with whom I am staying now in Delhi, was working in a friend’s stall there. So for that period of time I was left to myself from 9am to 9pm as my son lives alone, a confirmed bachelor. To have some kind of noise in the house I turned to the TV, or rather, switched on the TV.

I rarely watch TV. If at all I do, it is only Malayalam movies or very old Tamil ones. Even there I am very choosy and selective about what I watch. But during the ten days I was by myself I was exposed to the world of television commercials. So much so, I started seeing commercial in my dreams.

Personally I feel these commercials are frustrating. It is ages since one has watched a programme on the TV without these ads butting in. They are there in the 30 minutes allotted for the news even. Whenever a cricket match is televised one gets only glimpses of the matches in between commercials. It may sound funny but it is the truth.

There was a time when one could watch TV programmes without any commercial breaks. In those days there was no round the clock programme or so many channels or so many varieties of goods available in the market. The pleasure of watching a movie at a stretch without any break in your own home was really great. One had to pay a tax of Rs 50 per year to have a TV licence. No one had to suffer these jingles and jargon.
I vividly remember the viewers’ reactions when commercial breaks were introduced for the first time. Housewives running to the kitchen to give finishing touches to the cooking, feeding the school-going kids, and the kids themselves rushing to finish their homework, get their uniforms and books ready for the next day during this break. The novelty soon died as the commercial breaks increased with proportion to the increase in the channels and advertisements increased by leaps and bounds.
Still I liked viewing TV programmes without anybody thrusting ideas like using a certain brand of soap could makes one’s skin soft and spotless if a particular jingle is sung when having a bath. If you use another brand of soap you not only become clean but within a few days become beautiful too, so beautiful to win beauty contests.

The fruity fragrance of another brand of soap as it assails another model makes her forget where she is. She, being in a hurry to use that soap, starts peeling off her clothes one by one all the while rushing home. By the time she reaches home she is ready to jump into the shower. You believe it?

Coming to toothpastes, there are so many available nowadays. Take any brand there are different varieties. Unless you know which type you want you are at a loss when you go shopping. Add to that the ads for tooth paste really confuse you. Have you ever heard two schoolboys discussing toothpaste? Of all things, toothpaste? Which one will prevent tooth decay? Which is the best? So on and so on. A young girl with a doll is more interested in seeing her doll having good perfect teeth by using a certain type of toothpaste. Could one believe all this?

As it is, children of today are very precocious and very intelligent. They, in some cases, are more knowledgeable than their previous generation. They know about the why and how of things, how such and such gadget works. Why bring them into commercials to air their knowledge and belittle their parents to the viewer like a small boy telling his mother what commonsense is? I belong to a very old generation. I find all this a little too hard to swallow.

I find a few ads really good and interesting and educative. They give you the freedom of choice, they don’t give the public false hopes. One should know what soap or shampoo or hair oil or face cream suits him or her best and go for that.
I have just expressed a few of my thoughts I do not know how it may sound to others Everyone is entitled to have a viewpoint, These are mine, right or wrong.

12 comments:

Jennifer said...

This is a very interesting thing to ponder. We are in US, we have American Channels, but also a few Malayalam and Hindi channels. Commercials in all these languages/cultures are so irritating to me (a big majority). The major irritation is that during 'family' and 'kids' programs, such racy commercials come, like that soap ad you mention or others equally or more racy. Why do they play such ads during kid and family programs?

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

I agree, we can't see movies uninterruptedly. And the ads are dreadful.
That is wyh I use the ad breaks to use the bathroom, or finish other chores around the house. :)

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Viji Venkatesh said...

Ma there is The Advertising Standards Council of India one can approach if we feel any ad on any medium is detrimental to the welfare of socierty as a whole . When I was working in Tobaco Control with the help of this body I found out that activists could really make a lot of headway . To be honest I think some of the commercials on TV and Radio are great fun especially when we realise that with all our languages we have a wealth of phrases and words to play around with and pun and some are very very intelligenlty done. But yes children are targeted very baltantly and its awful some of the liberties taken . I have serious issues with ads that promote careless and dangerous behavoir like the " Walk and Talk" cell phone ad - awful . No one should talk on the phone while walking , crossing the road , climbinmg stairs , on escalators , let oalone while driving ....
but Ma money talks , all the time and so we are sititng ducks not able to see what we really want to whether it is the thrilling moment of Sehwag's century or Dravid's Duck !!!!!

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Viji, I agree totally about that walk while you talk ad......
And those colour complexion enhancing ads should be banned totally

Gardenia said...

Thanks for highlighting this.So some good does come out of watching TV!

Gauri Gharpure said...

you have taken us to an era without commercials, something i didn't know and can't imagine..

the biggest worry to me is making tender young minds brand conscious — ads impose an aspiration / awareness of monetary and social status even on 3-4 year olds.

but there are some good ones too. the one i like the best is the Rosy Miss ad with the 'daag acche hain' tagline.

Kamini said...

Both children and adults are vulnerable to the pull of these ads, insisting on buying a particular brand, even if it makes no sense money wise or in any other way, just because they have fallen into the trap laid out for them by the advertising company. Personally I find TV ads loud and annoying, and I always press the mute button when they come on.

Kamini said...

Both children and adults are vulnerable to the pull of these ads, insisting on buying a particular brand, even if it makes no sense money wise or in any other way, just because they have fallen into the trap laid out for them by the advertising company. Personally I find TV ads loud and annoying, and I always press the mute button when they come on.

Hema said...

On the whole I agree with you, Majji. Ads, whether in India or the US, are a (loud) nuisance and interfere with the enjoyment of the show or movie one is watching. That is apart from the sexist messages they portray or the way the prey on the innocent sensibilities of children. There are a few memorable one which put across their point wittily, but they are so few and far in between that I am totally comfortable with banishing ads.

radha said...

Ads can be very frustrating. And some of them are not relevant at all to the product. But then I guess it appeals to the younger generation. Also, when TV ads were first introduced in India, certain ads that were considered 'adult content' were telecast only after 9 at night. They seem to have no such regulation now. And what is considered 'adult' has undergone a major change!

Ashvin said...

Maiji, there was a time (still is, maybe) when the commercials were more interesting than the actual programmes ? I used to enjoy watching them when TV transmission had just started....