Feb 23, 2011

Advertisement: Visual Hypnotizing

What is your favorite brand of coffee? Let me guess! Like everybody else, you like Nescafe Instant coffee. In fact, that might even be the only coffee brand that you can recall. Wait a minute, why is Nescafe the only coffee brand you know? Have you ever even heard of any other brand, on TV or in newspaper? No, because it is the only brand that has such enticing advertisements on television. Have you ever noticed how the pretty girl with long curls lovingly scoops out a huge mound of coffee on her spoon? Have you ever tried to make a cup of coffee with the exact same amount of powder? Don't. I tried it, and my father's pithy reaction was that it was more like "coal coffee" than "black coffee".

Such aggressive marketing that promotes overconsumption through visuals is very common in television. It consists of showing large quantities of a product highlighted in a visually alluring manner. The camera lovingly pans over them as soft golden light fills the frame. The whole effect is so delicious that you feel guilty if you don’t use the same amount in real. Coffee advertisements are just an example of this aggressive technique that encourages you to use, and as a consequence, buy more and more of the stuff. There are millions of other such “visually hyped up” products, including brilliantly colored turmeric and red chili powder, cauldrons full of sizzling oil (in which are made piles and piles of pakodas and puris and what not) and many more. These products, if ever used in as vast quantities as shown on TV, will lead to severe ulcer, and not enhancement of taste.

Well, chilli powder and other condiments might be easy to regulate based on your taste, but what about the products that hit below the belt? Like perfumes that send scantily clad women crazy? Yes, I am talking about axe and its many companions. Ever notice how copious the high intensity spray is, like water from your garden hose? Ever notice how the guy practically bathes in the perfume, from head to toe? Ever notice how long the camera focuses on the spraying process, even depicting the ricocheting drops in the air? The speed is slow and dreamy, and again, soft golden light spills into the frame, creating an aura of magic. If you ever douched yourself in the perfume like that, everyone around you would faint, and not because they like the smell !

Speaking of grooming products, when I was a child I would put globs and globs of toothpaste on my brush, mesmerized by the bright red gel of close up toothpaste that they definitely made a point to show a close up of. Notice the bright red of the toothpaste shade? And the shinning “shimmer crystals” or whatever inside it? It’s just toothpaste, but it still manages to shine like a Disney princess’s dress.

Much later, when I was big, broke, and hard up, and trying to make every penny stretch. When I tried to make every tube of toothpaste stretch, I realized that toothpaste that fills just half, or maybe a quarter of the brush, works as well as the big glob. I made a few quick calculations: a tub of toothpaste costs approximately Rs. 40 and lasts a month. I used a fifth of this tube for 12 months of the year for 20 years. My total cost of toothpaste usage was something around Rs. 1600. We have already decided that one fourth of toothpaste usage is enough. Hence, I wasted three fourths of the toothpaste usage money, resulting in a loss of 1200 rupees of my parents’ money. I sadly regret it. The thought now strikes me that I was the only person in the house doing the big glob thing, which means that while I used 4X toothpaste, everybody else used just X, or 2X at most. This upends my calculations. I am too exhausted to calculate again. But I still vaguely realize that since I used up more than a fifth of the paste, I wasted more money than 1200 rupees. Not counting the perfume douches and the coal coffees. I am reeling in shock right now. I think I need a relaxing shower. With streams and streams of shampoo. And then I will go out and have a nice day to recuperate. I can just feel my good temper returning, with the thought of the dollops and dollops of fair and lovely that I am going to slather on my face soon. Yes, I have my revenge on the advertisers now!



Anonymous said...

shampoos and toothpaste...yeah, tried every brand of shampoo...

Yug zee Tah said...

I most liked the description of the drops of body spray. And they also encourage adultery.

sewa said...

ya, u thought u wud, wat with the garden hose and all.
we must certainly work to abolish adultery :P

Rajesh said...

I liked the way you described toothpaste and you know what- a few days back, I was complaining my wife to get the toothpaste that has crystals in it and I really like that one like the kids do :P, I am a little childish but that is the way I am and I love the crystals in the Colgate like the "disney princess dress" ..
You must have watched a lot of advertisements and finally you decided to write something that you felt about them.

I like the way you keep writing and I loved reading this very much. It felt like I was talking to you :)

~ bhoowan ~ said...

ohhh..yar common' you are looking jus one aspect of the story. What about the media houses and their employees surviving on advertisement industry ?
LOL :) हाम्रो जागिर धरापमा पार्ने ?! But you have special art of expressing.

sewa said...

rajesswa: i m glad u liked the article.

bhoowan: thanks for appreciation, i ill try to keep the other side in mind from next time :)

sewa said...

bhuwan, i forgot to say,
i am not against advertising (i luv ads, actually)
they can be dangerous, bachera basnu parchha matrai bhanna khojeko :)

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