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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Two advertisements

The World Cup broadcasts come with their own share of advertisements -- a small set which gets repeated over and over again. Minus the longer Airtel ad, nothing is worth a mention...

... except for the HDFC Standard Life Insurance advertisement, which should rank as among the most insensitive ever to appear on Indian television. You couldn't have missed this one. An old man isst about to get down from the train, and his son proffers his hand in aid. The old man frowns at his son, and alights on his own.

We are to assume that this depicts the old man's self-respect and self-reliance. Which is fine. But isn't there a better way to depict this? Should it be done in such a cheap and demeaning way? What of family values? A son wants to help his father alight from a train -- how can it affect the old man's self-respect? It is a simple act of caring for elders, a value ingrained into Indian society (and any society, in general).

The ad seems to mock at this value. It tells us, "No self-respecting father will ever take his son's help to get down from a train." What utter nonsense!

Express yourself

The ads for Airtel Prepaid which extol the advantages of instalments are pathetic. One shows a peon advising a guy loaded with work to sift through one file at a time. Another depicts a stranger informing a guy to gift a costly necklace to his girlfriend pearl by pearl.

In contrast, the longer Airtel ad is splendidly done. All of Airtel's ads (the sensible ones) have a single theme -- "the power of human expression". And this ad shows it better than any other.

It starts with a shot of the Quit India Movement: "Two words can bring down an empire". Then it cuts to Martin Luther King Jr's famous "I have a dream speech". Caption: "One dream can change the world." The next frame shows David Shepherd giving Tendulkar out, followed by the obvious caption: "One raised finger can break a billion hearts." This is followed by an image of Winston Churchill addressing a huge gathering during the War. The caption continues from the previous image "... and two can win a war!"

The images that follow are of the Dalai Lama ("a whisper can inspire hope"), Mother Teresa ("one touch can instill faith"), Lata Mangeshkar ("some voices can move a nation"), Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ("yet some others can dissolve boundaries"), the demolition of the Berlin Wall ("one act of defiance can spark a revolution") and finally, a army of people holding candles ("one hundred thousand candles can end a war"). The AR Rahman-composed Airtel tune is sounded like an anthem, as the words "That is the power of human expression" appear.

Whereas some might question the ethics behind the use of emotionally-charged images to convey a business theme, one cannot deny that the ad is a masterpiece in its ability to communicate a simple idea in a simple manner -- black-and-white images, no sound effects, and no cavalier themes. This ad is a treat!


Blogger Abi said...


The HDFC ad being shown during the World Cup matches is the shorter version. The real thing has a second part:

Father gets down, turns around, and when Mother is about to follow him out of the train, offers her a helping hand. And guess what? She gives him the same look as the one he gave his son! And, walks out of the train un-aided. Everyone has a good, "we knew it all along, didn't we?" laugh.

So, the theme of self respect is conveyed through some light humour.

6/27/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger VAC said...

True that the Airtel Ad was touching.. But, talking about the WC Ads, I think the Adidas Advertisement definitely deserves a mention.. the "jose +10" ad certainly ranks among the best in terms of creativity.. Cisse, Robben, Kaka, becks, zizou, lampard, Riquelme and Kahn make for an irresistable combination.. But then it really required some innovative mind to bring in Platini and Kaiser to tell the world that "Impossible is nothing".. Simply the best ad for sometime... Great Visuals to support their Tag Line..

6/27/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The girl in the pearl-by-pearl Airtel Lifetime Installment ad is very smart.

6/27/2006 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@Abi: I did get a chance to see the whole ad, but only yesterday. In any case, the humour aside, the ad is pretty cheap on values. But hey, which ad isn't?

@VAC: That was a good one too; what works against it is the fact that there are quite a few ads featuring top footballers (like Pepsi's "football at the beach" ad). So this one seems like just any other. Surely, that doesn't take away from it the creativity.

@Anon: Smart?

6/27/2006 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger Rams said...

Airtel is one ad that I always enjoy watching...the visuals, the music, the captions, everything is so perfect...

and the airtel piece is one of the best one cud get for an ad...

6/28/2006 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger jvpoirot said...

yeah , i agree with anon. , the airtel ad. is pretty lucrative. you end up paying more (99 * 12) in the offer , than the usual rs.999


6/28/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Anand said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but does anyone know what war the "hundred thousand candles end a war" refers to?

7/04/2006 12:56:00 PM  

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