One of the ads from last year I remember vividly is “Touch of Care” from ‘Vicks’. It left me feeling human. It tells the most poignant tale of the struggle of a transgender bringing up an orphan by herself. Gayatri, a young girl, reminisces about her childhood while on her way to boarding school. She fondly remembers the Sundays spent with her ‘mummy’, eating ‘kadhi chawal’, and watching horror films at night. She lets viewers know that even though her mother wants her to become a doctor, she is going to be a lawyer, so that she can fight for the rights of her mother, a transgender. Based on the true story of Gauri Sawant raising the young Gayatri, this commercial hit the right note with the audience.
One of the best marketing gimmicks, advertisement is chiefly a mode of communication about products and services by the brands with the consumers. With a broad spectrum of platforms, it becomes a vital requirement for selling and publicising a business or enterprise. It can have both positive and negative impacts on society as a whole, but can anybody imagine a world without advertisements? No matter how superficial it sounds, it is hard to ignore the fact that advertisements are a great medium for giving out social messages, just like the ad from Vicks.
Classified ads were the first to give birth to India’s concrete advertising history. With Hickey’s Bengal Gazette, India’s first newspaper, ads began to appear in print for the first time. Over a hundred years, the advertisement industry has evolved, reflecting change of eras, cultures, lifestyles, economy and everything else. With the advent of digital media, it has crossed space and time to reach the target audience. And not just selling products, advertisements also promote national integrity and challenge social stereotypes, if utilised appropriately.
The unfathomable authority that advertisement has made the audience believe in it more than in themselves. The cupboards and shelves of homes consist almost unanimously of products such as Dettol, Maggi, Colgate toothpastes, Lux soap, Brooke Bond tea, Horlicks, Tata Salt, LG appliances, so on and so forth. These have remained favourites across generations.
One of the effective digital marketing strategies is social media advertising, and it is cost-efficient. Advertisers gather user information through social networks and use those demographics to target audience and increase customer base. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have evolved into grand marketing tools. It is highly likely to chance upon new ads on Facebook instead of TV.
A good advertisement is like a reputation manager. It can change the public perception of a business by giving it a new makeover. Commitment to advertising is what keeps the business going. And so, brands have to come up with new taglines and innovative concepts of commercials and campaigns every time in order to compete in the market.
Advertisement increases sales by building a positive public profile to attract investors, employees, as well as a customer base. It notifies consumers about their rights. It is used to educate and spread awareness among people on unfamiliar issues. The government backed commercials on health and sanitation are extremely worthwhile, especially in the rural and other backward areas. Ads issued in public interest such as those of dreaded diseases or violence of any kind and their respective preventive measures, contributes to a
well informed society.
The most pertinent negative aspect of advertising would be misrepresentation. It often embodies an ideal world far removed from reality. More often than we realize, advertisements make us distant from the ground realities. We tend to yearn for an ideal version of ‘us’—an ideal face, an ideal body, an ideal home, an ideal alternative.
The advertisement industry thrives on pretence. Brands such as, Maybelline, ‘Loreal Paris’, or ‘Lakme’ want people to associate with them. They put out ads that make viewers want to look as good as the models in the ads or commercials. The public don’t take into account the amount of make-up, light and Photoshop behind a flawless, fair face with the perfect features. And Indians are somehow obsessed with fair skin. Ads from ‘Fair and Lovely’ provoke the concept of racism all over again. Then there are commercials by fashion brands which emphasise skinny and slim figures as the ‘ideal’ body type, limiting us to a distraught social construct.
Coca Cola is a worldwide phenomenon, all thanks to adver-tising. Crossing all boundaries, be it cultural or religious or economical, this aerated drink has emerged as highly popular because of proper marketing. The newest ad from Coca Cola delivers a powerful message—“A Coke for Everyone”, which harps on the fact that while people may vary in race and gender, they are unique and they stand united by Coca Cola. It celebrates diversity.
Advertisements affect the way we look, the way we talk, the way we pursue a lifestyle—a power so immense that it has the ability to control our lives. From the moment we see an ad we know we want the product, even if we don’t need it.