Advertising industry in India is growing at a considerably faster rate than ever before and many new talent and cool ideas are getting exposed to the society. Advertisements are the intermediary between the brand and the consumer. Now-a-day it is not only the quality of the product or the services provided by the supplier or the manufacturer that makes a brand successful, but advertisements play a significant role in that. Advertisements could come in various ways; it could be Movie ad, online or digital ad, Print Media, OOH or even mobile ad.
Given the advancement of advertisement industry, the new age ad concepts are getting smarter, cooler and bolder. Intelligent ads as well as sexually explicit ad concepts are now being welcomed by media gurus. But whether the new ideas are coming out clear through the social responsibility test or not that is a question to ask. What, how and to whom are we selling our product is very crucial. What and whom to sell is defined by the existing and prospective market and need of the time. There we cannot do much. But how to sell and what all to tell to the prospective consumer or customer is surely a point which we can definitely look into and take responsible measures.
Take the example of Fair n Lovely. They are fairness cream. And we all know scientifically it is not possible to change your skin color from black to white without any cosmetic surgery, at least not yet. The skin color that every individual has is because of the amount or concentration of melanin pigments in their skin. And these melanin pigments are there to protect our skin from the harmful UV rays and other harmful direct sunrays. The more the pigmentation is the more dark the skin of the individual. And there is nothing wrong in having a wheatish or darker skin color. Beauty is not defined by the skin color. It is in the eyes of the beholder. Though a very cliché phrase, but we tend to forget it more often. Using Fair n Lovely or any other such fairness cream is not going to make a person fair and lovely in reality. Then the African black people would have used that long time back and each and every single individual planet on earth would have become fair. But we all know that’s not going to happen because that is not possible. The only thing we can do is we can use some products which actually burn our natural skin pigments, i.e. the melanin. The so called fairness creams contain mercury, which actually seeps into the skin and burns the healthy melanin pigments, making it look apparently fairer. But as soon as we stop using the fairness cream, our skin gets back to its natural color. Because our skin continues to produce melanin as a protective measure against sun burn and UV radiation. In the mean time, because of the prolonged use of fairness creams, all those mercury which our body gets exposed to could destroy our kidney and other visceral parts.
The main buyer and consumer of any kind of fairness cream in India is mostly the not so aware class of people. Who might not clearly know the science of the skin pigmentation and the effect of prolonged use of a fairness cream! But the manufacturers and advertisement makers know it far well than the rest of us. Even after that they are consciously trying to sell the fairness pill to our society. As Indian society is still struggling to come out of the biased inclination towards the fairer skin, so the marketers find a lucrative market in Indian mass. Without any sort of guilt consciousness, they keep on pushing and poisoning the mindset of Indian consumers. Even in 2012 they come up with ads concepts like, a girl just by becoming fair gets a job, or gets married or becomes a good singer. I fail to understand how fairness could have anything to do with the singing ability or sweetness of voice of a person! If fairness is the only measuring scale for a prospective bride, then where the darker girl would go? Won’t they get married or deserve a good groom to marry, according to the marketer’s of fairness creams?
Same way, I get shocked to see the Fastrack ads. It talks about how to move on. But how fast are we supposed to move on. Rolling stone does not gather moss, I accept. But how fast should we move on, that matter a lot. Aren’t we just rushing ourselves to the same fate of the American culture? Unfortunate but true. Albeit the Americans have realized the adverse effect of that fast moving on culture and now trying to learn our Indian traditional family oriented way of life. We might love to showcase ourselves as a modern Americanized youth, but the American youths are now learning our age old culture and they started to love and live in our ways. In the name of smartness and cool attitude we are promoting infidelity, disloyalty and dishonoring mentality towards the people around us. That is not healthy, at least to me. It is not that I am saying that, infidelity, disloyalty were not there in our society before. But what scares me is the fact that now we are showcasing it as a good aspect and a quality to acquire.
One more thing really concerns me. We all know health is wealth. Having a healthy and fit body is good and desirable. But now a days the way the apparel haute couture brands are trying to sell unhealthy size zero body structure to our youth that is horrifying. Young boys and girls are starving themselves, having crash diets, unhealthy eating habits and completely sedentary life style, leaving least liveliness and energy with them. And they are doing it just to fit in that particular dress and get acceptability in the friend circle! And they do think it is cool and hip, trendy! And the segment of people who can’t just go for a crazy unhealthy crash diet and on their chubbier side, they feel abandoned and become mentally frustrated because of the psychological effect of the trend of size zero culture.
Many such advertisements are there which are either subtly or directly trying to sell the darker aspects of the society as a good one. And not so aware people are eating the bait and molding themselves accordingly. Do we really want to see ourselves in the same fate of the westernized culture? Drug, frustration, unhappiness, loneliness…? At least I don’t want to see myself or the people around me in that same fate. And that’s why it scares the hell out of me.
It is high time to think and act responsibly. The marketers and ad makers need to be more responsible and they must think beyond just sales, numbers, revenues and ad-hype. Ads are meant to make us aware, not to mislead or confuse us.