The Comeback Post, And Human Fodder for Advertising

For the last month or so, I have been in a true blue blogging funk. I can’t put my finger on the exact reason, but strangely I just didn’t feel upto posting. Partly I think its because I started blogging initially as a fun activity and now, especially with wordpress, I feel I am getting too much into this circus – blog stats, views, ratings, technorati etc etc. Ofcourse I know I can choose not to, and a lot of the time, I feel I’m much less bothered about it than others I know. Still. Somewhere the original reason for blogging seemed to be moving away. Then, the weather here and the cold and cough it brings along, makes me feel disinclined to do anything more than the bare minimum.

Until. One of my favourite bloggers, Megha, piped in and rapped me smartly. (Well, blogically). “Ok, we are way past the ‘few days’. Come back now”. Thats what she says. Its about time I guess. I hope everyone else missed me too 🙂

Now, lets get started. Has anyone seen the latest Airtel corporate ad? Whats with ad folks? I don’t know how anything about the human condition can become fodder for advertising. Sure, ads are meant to relate to our lives and touch a chord. But is it really justifiable to use what looks like a refugee camp to wring out tears from your audience? For those who haven’t seen the ad, its about two boys on opposite sides of barbed wire, getting together to kick a ball. More tears are wrung out by one litte boy actually getting snagged under the wire for moments. The moment I saw this ad, I thought, what the hell, next will they be showing us two Abu Ghraib prisoners talking to each other? (Communicating, you know, which is what Airtel is all about).

I know the ad is somewhere meant to show the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and blah blah. But it somehow just doesn’t come out that way. The feel good phrase at the end doesn’t help – everything will be fine as long as we talk to each other. (Something on those lines). It just feels like some fairly big problems in the world are being belittled with this trite solution. What do you think?



  1. Ha ha, I’m glad the proverbial prod in the ribs worked! And dear god, is there a video of this syrupy ‘Airtel is the answer to all of the earth’s problems’ ad? Whats next, subscribing to Airtel will reverse global warming? Jeez.

  2. I do not understand why you are trying to search for a solution in an ad (reading through the last line of your blog).
    I think this is a psychological state of mind, where someone tend to find fault in everything they see. Perhaps your feminist thinking adds to it. You can see a lot of problems around you if you open your eyes and easy. Do something for that, rather than criticizing others sitting in front of a computer in an A/C room.

    PS: You will think of explaining what you have written, you will think of justifications for what is written here, but you should ask this question to yourself.

  3. Punkster, yep it did! I actually saw the longer version just now, and its a little better – it shows a house at the beginning, prob. establishing some context; but again, its not clear what the barbed wire is doing there then…

    tipu – in your logic, i find fault with everything i see. well, you find fault with me. so what does that say about you? if i should be out solving problems rather than criticising others, why criticise me? go out and solve some other problems na?

  4. Criticism , There is a difference between the prupose of your criticism and my criticism.

    I was trying to give you a direction, helping you to think what you are doing and what you want to acheive by writing that blog. What I did , had a positiveness in it.

    But you were criticising something, which is totally irrelevant. What is the purpose of doing it? Perhaps you want to show that you think about these things. You were criticising it for yourself, for your own mental needs. If not give an answer.

    who am I to direct you ? or Why should I be bothered about what you wrote? I wanted to show the hollowness, shallowness and emptiness in your thoughts.Some one who claims to be a feminist and a writer should have something sensible in what he/she tries to convey.

    Yeah, indeed I am solving problems. You should be appreciating me rather than taking it to your heart.

  5. whoa. why get personal? You didn’t actually tell me why the ad is good, all you said is I should not criticise it. And then you made inferences that I sit in an AC room and so on. So why do you think I would appreciate you?

    And – why should someone not criticise an ad? As someone who has studied advertising and likes analysing ads, I am entitled to have an opinion on them. Why is it irrelevant? And I didn’t say ads should provide a solution. Infact I said that the ad seems to provide a very trite solution. There is a huge difference between the two.

    In effect, what you are saying is, that, the only topics people can talk about or criticise, are ones you approve of. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. And just calling me names like “shallow” etc doesn’t help either. You need to prove that advertising is not a subject worth discussing. Why is not “sensible”? Just because you say so, is not a good enough answer.

  6. Like what I said in my first comment, I am objecting the sense of looking for a ‘ solution’ ( I did not understand the big difference) for a ‘fairly big problem’ in an ad. I am interpreting from what you have written in your blog. If my understanding is wrong help me with that.What did you mean by that sentence?

    You have the right to have your opinion, once your opinion is public, anyone has got the right to give an opinion about your opinion. You do not need my permission 🙂 Do not make the argument Childish, let there be a some grace in it.

    PS ::’ I am traveller, Walking through an unknown street , I see a house upside down. The Owner of the house is standing outside the house. I asked ” Hey your house upside down, Why is it so?” Is it a problem with my Vision or Is the house actually upside down?’

  7. Just want to say I’m glad you’re back!! 😀

  8. Wow, Apu you have your own hand wringer/psychoanalyst/concern troll telling you, a ‘childish’ woman how to write on your blog, and you have the gall to argue back, without being simperingly thankful! Come on woman, learn how to behave. It is for your own ‘good’. 😛

  9. Tipu, my sentence meant that “just talking” is not a solution to a problem such as war, refugee camps etc. I did not mean that I think every ad must show the solution. And on one point you are right – you have every right to disagree, but – here’s the catch – please do it politely. Calling the writer prone-tproblem seeking, shallow, childish etc is not in good taste. Just say instead why the post is wrong! In your own example, it would be the equivalent of you going up to the man and pointing not that his house is upside down, but that he is a fool or incompetent. The latter will never be appreciated and any useful points you have will also not be taken.

    Debs – thanks 🙂

    Megha – heh heh. Honestly, I don’t know what are the motives of anyone on this faceless universe, so as far as possible, I try to think well unless proved otherwise…

  10. I haven’t seen the ad but it seems distasteful to me — milking human tragedy for more cellphone subscriptions. The link is so tenuous, it practically doesn’t exist. On a different note, I find it interesting how some ads can be visually beautiful but ‘feel’ all wrong. Good to see you back.

  11. …..s
    1. If that is what you meant, then it is not related to the opinion about ad. it does not relate to the ad.
    2. No Ad is intended to provide a practical solution. It is just for promotion and should be taken in that sense.

    Am I right?

  12. Anindita, thats what it felt too.
    Tipu, its an opinion on what an ad doesn’t need to do, i.e. offer cliched solutions, and thats my last on this subject.

  13. yup, letz move on….

  14. Just came across this while looking for opinions on it! FWIW, I think the ad is exploitative of just about every exploitable emotion related to barriers and borders. Two things, though:

    1. It’s clearly not a refugee camp – the child who learns to play football is shown leaving a large, comfortable-looking house in the first few seconds of the vid.
    2. It’s meant to be a comment on overcoming mutual incomprehensibility rather than actual tragedy, I think. The dialects are not Indian [although the ad is cleverly shot with people who we might identify as belonging to some dimly-imagined outpost along the eastern borders of the country] and plays into our notions of “getting in touch” with the unknown rather neatly.

  15. roswitha – thanks! I think I did mention that in one of the comments – what happens is – in most of the (30 secnder) shorter versions I assume, the scene from the house douesn’t appear – so all you see is the barbed wire. Which is why for some time, I didn’t realise there is a house involved…

    And yes, your second point is valid – but you know, somehow “barbed wire” and the boy’s struggle seems to cue pain/deprivation as well and not just incomprehensibility.

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