Friday, May 1, 2009

What are they trying to sell us?

Turn on the television any time of the day and one thing you cannot escape watching is(no, not the Saas Bahu crap) advertisements. Notice more closely and like me, you'll wonder exactly what are they trying to sell us? Toothpaste ads sell us the idea that a "fresh" breath will attract chicks/dudes as the case/preference might be! Car ads encourage us to keep up with the Joneses, Election ads sell us the idea that a certain candidate is "stronger" than the incumbent, cell phone ads sell us the concept of "identity" (I wonder how many of us would be unique once we'd have bought that specific brand of cell phone), fairness cream ads sell us the idea of "beautiful" skin (What backward society do we live in, that the skin color rather than a person's personality matters more?), bottled water ads sell us the notion that bottled water is safer than tap water (even as scientists the world over have reached a consensus that bottled water is in fact carcinogenic).
Having said all that, I hope you see what I'm trying to put across here. What these advertisements are selling us, is not products or services. It is fear. Pure, unadulterated fear. The fear of being a social outcaste for having bad breath (and thus selling a surgical antiseptic as a breath freshener), the fear of losing a job because of dark skin, the fear of falling ill because of using a random brand of soap, the fear of losing teeth to cavities for not using a specific brand of toothpaste and so on.
Bottom line is this: the air we breathe is polluted, the water we drink is tainted with chemicals, and the food that we eat is impure with all the pesticides in it. We are a much vulnerable species with all the things that we do to ourselves. We drink Coke/Pepsi instead of water when we're thirsty, we eat potato chips instead of proper meals when we're hungry, and we go to oxygen spas instead of heading out to the mountains when we need fresh air. They say that the average lifespan the world over has increased. But at what cost? We live faster and more impatient lives, and we glorify that fact. Or do we? Are we placing our short term goals on a higher priority than our long term objectives? Are we missing the forest for the trees?
I don't know. But I don't like what I see.


Mandar Kulkarni said...

Nice thoughts :)

Abhishek Joshi said...

Thanks, Mandar. :)

Shishir said...

Well, in all fairness, fear actually manages to capture the target audiences' attentions more than any other emotion. Also, you deconstructed the ads' down to their attempts at exploiting our fears, but that is true of any other industry as well. I mean, by your logic, human desire to own a house can be seen as a desire to conquer the fear of not getting drenched by rain (among other things).

Fear is a real emotion and it pervades all our lives in innumerable ways, so I think its naive to expect that ad agencies will not use that. I do agree that there must be a real attempt to treat it with respect and not subject the audience to endless tirades of moronic logic (such as that used in fairness cream ads). On the other hand, I personally feel that there is really no need for fairness (or tanning) products to exist at all, but thats another discussion altogether.

Abhishek Joshi said...

Shishir, your comment almost exceeded the length of my post. :P And yeah, the fairness/tanning campaigns are truly moronic at best.

ketaki said...

The article put forward by you reflects the reality of this world.
This world of advertisement is bluffing us, and we the (so called)educated people are falling prey to their false fantasies. I do agree wid your views....tat nothin on television is worth watching!!!!

Nice article.........!!!!

Abhishek Saha said...

Somehow I don't agree with you totally. Fear of being not socially acceptable is true. But I don't think the ad agencies only think about the fear factor. The sale is more when the product or service or whatever creates a whole new demand. Something like Reliance or now Tatas have done.
True that the presence and sale of these products in the market reflect fear but I believe its more so to do with their cravings. Cravings to be someone who is potrayed in the ads. And that is how ad agencies sell products. Make people crave for something and provide them the route to that destination with their product.

Abhishek Joshi said...

@Ketaki: Thanks. :)

@Pseudo: I like the aspect you've put to this post. Went at a tangent, actually, but it's good.

Devilish Angel said...

I do agree to some extent that "fear" makes people buy stuff. But I think what most ad sell is a "dream". The dream that you can attract girls, the dream that you can have this happy family without any trouble. Just my opinion :)

Abhishek Joshi said...

@Divya, or is it the fear of not being able to attract the opposite sex? or the fear of not being able to have a nice happy family?