Monday, October 03, 2005

Shady Hoardings in Chennai

Audience: Residents of Chennai

As we were driving around coastal Chennai and the city last Sunday we couldn't help reading the notorious hoardings erected for the Fitness One fitness centre at various vantage points along our route. I am sure there are many more of them all over the city. Let me reproduce some of the lines from these hoardings.

"All my senses want me to do it."

"I always enjoyed doing it, now he enjoys it as well."

"I used to do it once a week, now I do it everyday."

...and so on.

Here are some deductions:

1. The people behind this advertisement campaign fully understand what these lines can also refer to because if they didn't, why use them?
2. These guys also know the viewer-group they are targeting and that means they also know what those viewers will be thinking as they read these lines.
3. And for those who don't understand them, these statements obviously are referring to exercise. I don't think the ad-guys care a damn about them.
3. So the fun in the ad is when they are targeted for people described in statement number 2 because if it wasn't then these lines serve no purpose at all, right?
4. This also goes on to say that to make their idea really ring, the ad-makers would want more of these "double-meaning"-understanding-folks as their viewers. Probably they even want people to comment, the press to report or post a blog as this one.

Unfortunately the questions that they have obviously not considered while creating this ad-campaign are:

1. What will school children make out of these statements as they read them?
2. What will senior citizens (that includes their own parents, grand parents, uncles, aunts, teachers...) feel when they read them?

And some other obvious questions that come to mind are:

3. Was this advertisement designed by an all-male group or an all-female group and if they were a mixed group how exactly did the discussions, the planning and the execution go?
4. How are the models feeling about being cast in these ads?


Preethi Ramanan said...

Hi subash

it's me again :) this blog of yours makes a nice read and provides the readers with good food for thought.

All your questions towards the end of the blog are valid. But here again looking at it from an advertising angle this ad is targeted at the young crowd. No doubt these personalised weight management programs are expensive which means it is again targeted at the elite crowd. Given the kind of exposure (read movies ,books ,partying ,high level of interaction with the opposite sex) that this section of people have, i dont think any other punch line would have caught their attention as much as this one. To be very frank though the punch line had a double meaning i was also looking forward as to what the ad could be about. Well their objective was to get people hooked on the ad and make them wait expectantly for the product and i think they have achieved it. I am sure they could have come out with a better (and cleaner) idea but their mission is accomplished either which ways.

Infact there was this huge controversy when Durex came out with its ad for condoms. They had a huge hoarding which was painted blue all over with a small white dot in the middle and the ad later read "Here's wishing all the competitors of this product, "A Happy Fathers day". Well this again has a double meaning but when you look at it from the retention point of view, people still remember the ad. And you have to admit, it is quite creative (if i may put it that way).

Yes there are some advertisements which make zero sense and have zero relevance to the product that they are advertising. For example the ad wherein Bipasha Basu goes to a disco and says "i will dance with the guy who has the smallest..." (Excuse me for being so frank). It is one of the most ridiculous ad's that i have ever seen.

One more point which i would like to a mention about! Children these days are exposed to all kinds of nonsensical stuff on the televsion and the internet. On how many such things can we start writing articles or oppose them or shield the children from it? You block the internet, they have the TV, you block the TV, they have books, you keep them away from books, they have friends. It is a vicious cycle.

And subash, as far as the feelings of those models in the hoardings are concerned, i am sure they are there for the money it is paying (for whatever reason). They must have opted for it knowing very well about the repurcussions.

And lastly i am sure the peole belonging to the older school of thought know better than to be surprised or even taken aback at such happenings :):)

No offense meant Subash. I am just sharing my thoughts. Please feel free to refute them (vehemently if u wish to do so :):).


Subash S L said...

Preethi, thanks for the enthusiastic response. One thing is for sure. As you have written, I think the marketing objective of the ad has been accomplished though ethically and morally it falls very short. That brings us to the question, Where are we heading with all this? What is the culture going to be in our country when our children mature into adults? As senior citizens,what are we going to be seeing then and how are we going to react? I guess we'll become more patient and forgiving like our old folks have.

My inattentiveness might have missed the Durex condom ad but I do recall the Bipasha's ad. Creatively some of these ads win but I find it difficult to call our current hoarding in question, creativity. And yes, they do remain in our heads whether they were ethical or not. Writing about kids, yes it is going to be a challenge raising them in today's instant-gratification world. Convenience afterall has only bred more problems, hasn't it? And yes, writing of the models in the ads, I am sure many of them will be considering this ad as an achievement for themselves. Last words. Do feel free to comment. Who doesn't like a positive feedback?

Sri said...

Hi all,

This is Sridhar here (colleague of Subash). I had been following this blog on the ad. Made quite an interesting reading, I do understand the concerns that were raised by Subash, but I am in full agreement with Preethi as well. First of all, I understand this hoarding did not have any graphic representations of whatever kind unlike some of the movie hoardings that we get to see around the city. It is a universally proven fact that pictures have an impact more profound than mere words, like the saying goes - " Pictures speak louder than words". So, this means the retention factor is minimal in this case as compared to the graphic hoardings. The reason I am pointing out this is because adolescence is the most impressionable age and that is the age group that we should be more concerned about. In this case, I am sure they would remember the 'Sand piper' hoardings more vividly than this ad !! But then again, there are exceptions to everything and the antithesis to what I just said is - the 'Pulli raja..' line of ads which took the city by storm some time back, and that too had only words in it but then that was for a good cause - a small attempt to arrest the alarming rise in AIDS cases. So, to sum it all up, I think this ad might have drawn a lot of flak had it been raised 10 yrs back, but now most people wouldn't make any big deal of it because of the sad fact that they have already been numbed with far more blatant vulgarities in society.

Preethi Ramanan said...

Hi Sri

I am in complete agreement with the last paragraph of you comment.

" I think this ad might have drawn a lot of flak had it been raised 10 yrs back, but now most people wouldn't make any big deal of it because of the sad fact that they have already been numbed with far more blatant vulgarities in society.

I guess it is this numbness of ours which is being royally exploited by these ad agencies !!

And like Subash said "where are we heading with all this"? I wish i had an answer to that question!!

Sri said...

Hi Preethi,

My take on this is that we are actaully going through a phase of progressively deteriorating societal values. As the neck-line of morality keeps plunging we will increasingly try to find a rationale in every excess perpetrated by the so called avant-garde. The sad thing about this is nobody can do anything about it, its the inevitable. Having said that, I wish to draw you to the immortal saying - "There is silver lining to every cloud". I mean the youth of today and future. They are a mature lot nowadays (at least the educated ones). They seem to be taking all this in their stride at the same time keeping in focus their goals and are acheiving it. They are not the ones with weak hearts and cannot be swayed from their intentions so easily. I think that is the silver lining. In a sense I think I am in agreement with what you said about the 'elite crowd' (except for the partying ... I dont think that is all that important :-)) I sincerely hope this is the correct answer to the all important question raised by Subash. Amen.

Subash S L said...

Preethi, Sridhar,

Thanks for all your inputs. All were very valid arguements. Like Sridhar said I am sure the new generation is already evolving well to meet the demands of the times be that social or economic. My only prayer is that everyone young or old is properly geared for this change. For the new generation proper up-bringing is very vital for this "evolution" because a lack of it is sure to cause problems as we can see from the socio-economic crimes that prevail.

Subash S L said...

Thanks to a friend, here are some more of those “Fitness One” suggestive lines discovered on their hoardings on other parts of the city.

I’ll do it even at 60. (guy)

I was anxious to start with but now I can’t wait to do it. (girl)

Tim said...

Hey there,
Just saw your blog. Actually I noticed the ads too (hard to miss in Chennai with so many hoardings covering up any greenspace or historic buildings) and their double entendres. Actually, it even got me curious about the gym (does that make me a sell-out?).
Regarding your original posting though, I have to ask, being a North American: why would you suggest a female crew would not have come up with the sexually suggestive/explicit ads? Also, why would one think that senior citizens don't care for sexual content, and by implication, sex? Although in this young, male dominated world we prefer to envision females and our elders as free some any type of salacious or sexual feelings, I think we're kidding ourselves and perhaps devaluing them to think that way.

Subash S L said...

Hello Tim,

Nice to read a comment from someone from North America. I agree with your comments on women designing such hoardings and senior citizens enjoying the pleasures in their old age, only just that the "hoardings" we are talking about had to be in North America for that. No matter how much we here in India try and imitate and follow the west, our lives particularly in the South of India are rooted firmly in our orthodox culture. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is something that can be debated forever. Maybe the hoardings were designed by an all women team or more uncomfortably by a men-women team but I am doubtful of both these scenarios. The very fact that there is such a hue and cry about these hoardings speak for themselves.