16 November 2012

Bizarre Indian ads

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??


Elizabeth Petrosian said...

Brilliant post, Isabel--I'm doubled over laughing!!!!

Gasp! I'm ashamed to admit I've let myself go horribly: I haven't been whitening my armpits. I didn't realize this was such an important erogenous zone! And let's not even discuss, ahem, things further south ;-)

What killed me was the ad for 18 again--I nearly spit my tea all over the keyboard! Oh. My. Lord. You're right, picturing people sitting around a conference table coming up with this ad is hilarious, as is picturing whoever dreamed up this product.

Ok, now. Where can I order some? ;-)

Isabel said...

You're letting yourself go, Liz. Keeping everything hairless, white and tight is a full-time job!

Did you like the granny going on-line to order some??

Elizabeth Petrosian said...

Yes, loved that. Nothing like going from 80 to 18 with just a little dab of cream! ;-)

Makes all the Italian anti-cellulite lotions seem terribly tame.

Anna said...

India is such a baffling mix of prude and outrageous!

harini said...

That was incredible to watch. I've always been against Fair & Lovely and all those whitening creams (especially when you have a complex about being darker skinned, both in India and abroad! I've moved on from that though :) ). This is really a new low.

I was amazed at that Clean & Dry ad...well, well women in India really are working hard to get some attention! And the 18 Again ad...hilarious. This tells you how long I've been out of India. The fact that the ad announcer mentioned the word "vaginal" in the advertisement had me more shocked than anything else!

Harini said...

That said, i was quite entertained by the ads. I just feel really old and out of place with the India represented in the ads.

jennifer anderson said...