There are some ads I see in the Indian media, either in print, on billboards or on television which I find surprising and more than a bit peculiar. Some leave me completely baffled, and a few are even controversial.
I often come across an ad in magazines for Elite Matrimony (see above). It’s a glossy picture of a young woman dressed in an evening gown and flashy jewellery. “Match it right for your child,” it says across the top. This is followed by a list: “handbags, chocolate, perfumes, wardrobe, education, French fragrance, Ivy League, Parisian chic, Italian leather, Swiss indulgence”. It then suggests: “After having provided the best for your children, help them discover life’s most precious gift: A HAPPY MARRIAGE”. Elite Matrimony is described as a ‘premium matchmaking service’. Across the bottom it says: “Specially created for the crème de la crème of the society, Elite Matrimony finds you that exceptional marriage partner befitting your social standing. Many leading families, both Indian and NRI, have benefited from this unique service.” I wonder how they choose their clients… do they ask how many millions they have in the bank? Which Ivy League university they studied at? Where they go on holiday? What handbag does Madam carry? And her favourite perfume?
Then there are the ads for the many whitening products on the market. I had written about fairness creams before in this post. However, there are whitening products meant not only for facial use. Have you heard of whitening deodorants? It seems it’s not enough to have dry and nice-smelling armpits – they have to be white too. An ad for Dove Whitening Deodorant shows a young women raising her arms over her head exposing her fair underarms. “No more dark patches – with new Dove Whitening Deodorant. For even toned underarms,” says the ad.
Another ad for a similar product by Nivea, drives the message further (and makes me howl with laughter). “Ride that bike. Slice that frog. Try that raft. Get that tattoo,” it says in small letters (I wish I were a fly on the wall when the copyrighters were coming up with this ad!), followed by: “Be bold, go sleeveless,” in big, bold letters. Yes, raising your sleeveless arms is a bold and courageous act!
Watch this ad for Dove asking women to ‘raise their arms to the mirror’:
And this one by Nivea which says: ‘go sleeveless on him’:
The fairness obsession hit a new low (pun intended) with the ad for ‘Clean and Dry’, described as an ‘intimate wash’. This television ad shows a young couple sitting in their living room. The man is busy reading the newspaper and the woman is looking off in the distance with a resentful pout. She then has a shower and uses this product... “Freshness… and Fairness” flashes on the screen. Presto! Her husband’s attitude towards her automatically changes! Watch the ad here:
More recently, there’s been a lot of talk about another controversial product called ‘18 Again’. The marketing for this ‘female renewal gel’ is quite aggressive and clever. A (hilarious!) video of the commercial started circulating as an ad on Facebook and You Tube. And from the bus the other day, I noticed that many major arteries of the city are plastered with poster-size ads for this product. ‘Poor intimacy?’ asks one. ‘Post pregnancy issues?’ says the next. Followed by ‘Sour relationship?’ and ‘Lack of confidence?’… ‘Here’s the answer to the question you fear the most…’
Needless to say there has been a lot of reaction and backlash to this ridiculous product which claims to empower women. You can watch the commercial here:
Elite matchmaking, fair and even-toned armpits, white and ‘renewed’ nether parts… What’s next??