Long long ago in the pre cable TV days, when a single DD channel was the only option, ads were one of the most entertaining part of the night TV program which then were just bunch of boring talk shows like “Krishi Darshan”. I still remember those ‘NIRMA jingles’ or ‘I love you Rasna’ or ‘I’m a complan boy’, so soothing and so sticky…Well!!! life were much simpler then. I’m sure the ad industry would then be in few Crs., if not less. Today, the Indian ad industry is about Rs 20K Cr with astronomical CAGR. Thanks to the economic progression and growth courtesy Mr. Singh & Co apart from many other factors.
I’ve been an ardent lover of advertisement, especially TVCs. Maybe the conditionings in my tiny tot days were really ingrained. Today, as much as we’ve got enough TV channels (Cable/DTH), we’ve got enough TVCs as well. To me it’s a sign of prosperity and I’m really proud of it. And what excites me more is the progress in the creative fields – be it the idea/concept, the positioning, the script, the shootings, etc. We have come a long way. And yeah we did it; Cannes Lion today is a regular feature in our newspaper with many of our comrades bringing back many Lions.
Kudos and accolades for sure, but there are directional glitches as well. For sure it’s nothing new, we’ve seen past instances like milk (for infant) debate or Milind Soman & Madhu Sapre controversy or ban on alcohol or tobacco advertisement and the more recent one, debate on fairness cream (on national TV channel). Cases are tackled and settled as per the relevant acts or statues.
Off late, this directional madness seems to magnify in a much larger scale. In the guise of modern day creativity, the sanctity of social reverence or cultural relevance seems to be taking a real beating. Though modern in texture but obnoxious in message, hordes of such TVCs are flooring every now and then.
To list some –
- Fairness Cream Products promoting COLOR in human (Emami, Loreal, HUL, Himalaya)… It’s kind of sending a message that DARK is a curse…
- Life threatening stunts in Motor Bike Ads (Pulsar, CBZ, Karizma)…Young hormones are ready to follow suit…
- I-Pill by CIPLA…you know it!!!
- TATA Docomo series of ads…It kind of promote DE-VALUE in our youth…
- And goes on….
- Still goes on…
The danger threat running across all of these is that it’s attacking our belief and value system as a nation. And worse, it’s maligning our future i.e. our youth.
Absence of a single comprehensive legislation seems to be the consensus blame when it comes to advertising code of conduct. After all the only regulatory body as of today is ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) which is self-regulatory and non government. Their website says: “The Role and Functioning of the ASCI & its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is in dealing with Complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Ads which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.”
At stake is a Rs. 20K Cr. of money which indirectly is borne by consumer and still bigger, 190 million television sets in the wild which will obviously attract more than a set of eyeballs per television. Is there a way out?
For sure, complaining to ASCI for every individual case or file a PIL every time cannot be a solution. Nor can we just wait for our dear government to act…Even if it click sometimes, but these are post mortem activity. Attacking at the root can only give solutions rather then try and cure after the damage is done.
With nothing much in hand currently, the way out seem surreal. But, Yeah!!! There is a way out…though a bit of lateral views…
“Going by the spirit” as once advised to me by someone on following RULES/LAWS, at this point sounds quite golden. Why don’t companies extend advertisement code of conduct as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)?
Good that one drills and kills environment and then contribute tones of money to some NGOs working for upliftment of underprivileged or other emitting cloudfull of carbon in the air and investing huge bucks on alternate energy source…Why can’t CSR be part of the corporate culture, which run across every aspect of the business and which truly cares for the society and ensure every single steps are not in contradiction against the larger social good?
My point is…CSR not always should be “Save Trees” or “Save Water”…It could also be save our social value, save our culture/ethos and hence save the generation…
(Disclaimer: Just some lateralviews of the author as a citizen and nothing else)