By Dhruv Arora:
Every once in a millennium, we come across an ad that completely revolutionizes the whole media industry and redefines ads for the coming generations. It is gems like these that force people to think about what it must be like to occupy a seemingly spacious and a completely unused brain that must go into what we now call “creative thought”. The last ad that really spoke to me about what it might be like to live in prehistoric times (although I doubt such a high bar was ever reached previously) was this ad by Ford.
But move over, Ford! We now have a new undisputed king of atrocious advertising and unparalleled sexism in, Head and Shoulders. In case you were wondering if that was possible at all, let me point you to this absolute gem that is made to be the focus in this incredible TV spot:
“STOP before you stop being a man! Apni biwi ka shampoo chhodo. Get the new head and shoulders for men and rediscover the man you once were.”
Head and Shoulders’ desperate appeal to men worldwide in helping them rediscover their long-lost manhood, is a fantastic example of what happens when any linkages between creative thinking, basic education and the advertising industry are completely decimated. As a result of an absolute failure to comprehend logic, the narrator decides he truly has had enough of the whole situation and must intervene when the male protagonist decides to ask his wife about the fitting of the new pair of jeans he wants to buy. I know what you are thinking, who would even consider trying on a new pair of jeans before buying them? Aren’t we all completely aware of how horribly effeminate and mind numbingly logical that would be? Have we men truly lost what it means to be men and are now (brace yourselves) being logical about our purchases?
Never fear, because a brand of shampoo is here! The narrator blissfully goes on to tell us clueless viewers about the joys of using their new shampoo and its direct impact on the manliness gene that controls responsible consumerism and squashes any impulses to be logical about our purchases. I have personally never been more thankful about any such product in the history of all products ever created, and my shoe is desperately trying to find the person responsible for this gem for an epic high five, right on the face.
The whole “be a man” rhetoric is a slump that quite a lot of campaigns (commercial or otherwise) seem to be stuck in. The context is different in many cases (see Farhan Akhtar’s appeal for the common men to become M.A.R.D.s in order to defend and protect women) but the overall debate is largely the same — an appeal to men to regain their manhood. Let me not get too far ahead of myself, however, since Head and Shoulders’ ad does not seem to rely on any flawed conception of social responsibility, but a horrible grasp on what people want. What we want, dear H&S, is for you to quit trying to rely on the age old “mard” logic and actually concentrate on your product. I do not intend on buying your product unless it also claims to wipe away the memory of ever watching this horrible excuse for an ad.
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