Flatterer Brands

Alcohol advertising is one of those peculiar things in India where the product is legal, but the advertising is not. Common sense dictates that manufacturers cannot make a product and then just hope for it to sell by some magic formula; Surrogate advertising is therefore very much the norm, to which the government sort of turns a blind eye.

Now one of the things about alcohol advertising is that many brands position themselves as “flatterers”, i.e. not so much you drink this and become wise/adventurous/refined/cultured/dashing/attractive etc but you drink this because you are wise/adventurous/refined/cultured/dashing/attractive etc. Now this role of flattery is something that has to be done subtly – everyone wants to feel good, but no one wants to feel that they are “being made” to feel good.

I’ve been noticing this advertising for Royal Challenge ‘Soda’ for sometime now, that talks about Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘Winner of hearts and armies’, and then goes on to say, “In you he lives”. Overkill Alert! There is a big difference between having my glass of whisky and feeling honoured to be in the league of fine gentlemen, versus directly taking on the mantle of Napoleon Bonaparte.. My guess is, a Royal Challenge drinker, however accomplished (s)he may be, will feel slightly weird on seeing this ad – its very slightly patronising in the way it builds you up into something impossible…after all, some of the best fantasies are those which have atleast the slightest possibility of coming true!



  1. i ‘d hav never thot abt the liquor ads in this angle. good observations

  2. Tk you! liquor advertising is so interesting – since it operates under government codes as well as fairly strict industry codes in terms of what advertising will work….

  3. I remember this ad from 3 years back that I quite liked. This brand of whisky had the corresponding ‘apple juice’ that was being advertised as the ‘adult soft drink’. The scene was a crowded posh bar and this woman wearing a full cocktail dress (full sleeved and all) is sitting at a table sipping a drink. As this bloke drinks his ‘apple juice’ a strange thing happens. The more he drinks, the less she seems to be wearing. First the sleeves become half, then sleevless, then the bodice plunges real low and that’s when he has one sip of juice left.
    I loved it!

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