Is the Indian Advertisement Industry In The Shackles of Vulgarity?

Posted on April 12, 2012 in Media

By Twesh Mishra:

I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.
-David Ogilvy

Ogilvy’s famous quote emphasising on the utility of an advertisement seems redundant whilst considering the current scenario of the advertising industry. Though Ogilvy contradicted himself by mentioning many other intricacies of the advertising world but this quote would be the foundation stone of the article that will ensue.

Advertising in its essence would be a means of communicating information and not as a means of expressing the creative ability of the advertiser. Advertising agencies have realised that the attention span of consumers can be tapped by introducing a mix of obscurity and sensationalism in their endeavours. The sphere of product publicity has bourgeoned from a seemingly monotonous print intimation to an elaborate chain of television advertisements and promotional ventures. Today the advertiser needs to be able to catch the attention and compel the buyer to agree to the superiority of the product they are endorsing.

If going purely by the statistics, the Television industry at 38.3% is the most dominant means of communicating advertisements followed by Print media at 28.0%. Radio, the harbinger of the communication revolution in India has staggered to a mere 4.4% remarkably lower than Outdoor advertising which is pitched at 6.9%. Online media, a new entrant into the realm of advertising is as fast growing commodity with 3.4% of the total market share. The remaining revenue of the industry is generated through screenings at Movie theatres.

The ability of online media to cap the attention of consumers and the subsequent growth it has exhibited is no less than phenomenal. Hardly two decades into functioning for the common man, today almost all major and minor players have attempted to utilise this effective, efficient and relatively inexpensive means of promoting products. Due to the free hand that the advertisers and consumers enjoy on this medium misleading and vulgar advertisements are aplenty and exaggerating the capabilities of a product to lure users to procurement is an established fact.

It is not that the misleading commercials have restricted themselves to the virtual domain, television media has been consistently targeting for airing the most dubious advertisements regardless of their repercussions. Respectable newspapers and the age old radio have been exempted from the muddle of misleading consumers but vulgarity seems to run amuck in print media too.

Bingo, Bharti Airtel, Idea, Coke, Vodafone, Indian Premier League and some Political promotional broadcasts are not only accepted but also appreciated by viewers. And audiences reflect on advertisements of Virgin Mobile, Humara Bajaj, National Egg Coordination Committee, Raymond, Hajmola and Maruti when prompted to reminisce advertisements that they enjoyed in the past. The prominence of an advertisement is heavily dependent on the acceptability in the minds. These commercials had carved a niche for themselves by means of jingles and gratifying light hearted witty humour.

Advertisements that are specifically pin pointed for being inappropriate by almost all audiences were of Axe and Denver deodorants, Idea 3G, Rupa and Jockey undergarment and those of Moods and Manforce Condoms. It is interesting to note that barring Condoms none of the other products had even the closest association to obscurity and the sole purpose of including it was to attract the attention of the viewers to their products.

The Indian Advertising industry is heavily criticised for airing incongruous advertisements for the sole motive of inducing interest in the product. Such acts have resulted in a sense of disgust which the common populace has developed over the years of continuous exposure to such content. There is still hope for those who prefer to lace their advertisements with creativity as it is established that a good. Quality product with witty advertising is far more effectual than any amount of vulgarity.