Thursday, August 30, 2007


takes a ‘brief’ look at what’s causing the thunder, down under!

BANNED! Screamed headlines across media a while ago forcefully blanking out two male undergarment ads. The august body of I&B believed that the term thunder down under really took on scary dimensions and instructed them to stop the plunder (of innocent and bewildered minds) and immediately surrender! The two TV ads in question – Lux Cosy & Amul Macho – were seen as playing havoc with the joyous ‘family viewing time’ and pre-empting stunned, embarrassed silence and uncomfortable questions.

Okay, so what did these ads portray, anyway? The Amul Macho ad shows a newly-wed woman, moseying over to the village ghat and washing her husband’s undies. She begins in a coy, sensuous fashion and soon appears quite charged up while turning on the heat! Her energetic body language astounds her staid companions who look at this overt, exhibitionistic performance with shock and horror. ‘Crafted for fantasies’ says the slogan! In the Lux Cosy ad, a washerwoman calls at an apartment to pick up the laundry. A man wearing a towel answers the door. And accidentally his towel drops. Before he can register shock or embarrassment, the washerwoman’s eyes dart towards the undies, registering uncensored delight & approval in a flirtatious manner. The Moral Police, however, didn’t share in any way the washerwoman’s joy, were not remotely amused at this ‘slip-up’ and refused to dismiss the affair as ‘andar ki baat hai’.

They termed these ads “vulgar, indecent & suggestive” and sent out strong messages to the ad fraternity & channels to be careful and exercise restraint in the stuff beamed out, or else…

This isn’t the first time. Over a decade and a half ago, the Marc Robinson-Pooja Bedi Kamasutra ad with the tagline ‘For the Pleasure of Making Love’ had the powers-that-were in a tizzy. Subsequently the Arbaaz-Malaika coffee ads as well as the Milind Soman-Madhu Sapre TUFF ads created a crazy furore – as did the recent XXX flavoured condom ads. Neo Sports ads (tongue-in-cheek turned foot-in-mouth?) covering the recent ODI series in Feb’07 also came under fire and was termed ‘racist’ by the high priests.

Fact is obscenity, vulgarity, suggestiveness, insinuation, et al represent tricky areas for the simple reason that they are all relative, subjective and contextual. Fumes ad practitioner Atul Malhotra, “the problem with these guys is that they consider themselves self-appointed guardians of public morality without even trying to understand the reference to the context angle. Don’t these people see FTV, MTV, Hollywood or Bollywood movies?”

“Which planet do they inhabit, yaar? Is our tradition, culture and sabhyata so fragile that a couple of ads can threaten it? C’mon guys, wake up and taste the… lassi!” He says that you wanna ban stuff – ban gender bias & religious intolerance because they influence and poison the mind of people – not some corny undergarments ads, for chrissake! Preeti Paul, a media executive agrees with the basic premise of Malhotra’s argument but concedes that the Amul Macho ad did exceed the limit. “It’s definitely cheap & titillating and appears to have been created to shock & stimulate viewers.” Housewife Seema Suri agrees. “Which sicko pervert directed the actress and dreamed up the concept? I mean that suggestive look and body language, that glazed expression, it was so embarrassing! My mom-in-law just couldn’t figure out what that lady in the ad was doing and frequently asked me to explain… I am delighted ban ho gaya. Advertising should have some moral limits.”

Not everyone agrees with this take. Mitali Gupta, a journalist, believes too much is being made about “this silly ad! Hey, c’mon guys, its only a dumb TVC, okay? The ad guys took the titillation & naughty route to grab eyeballs and public attention, which I think was cool b’coz what the hell do you say about a jock, anyway? Chill, man!”

Creators of the ad believe that the uproar is happening only because it is truly a clutter-busting ad, standing out and making waves (in a dramatic and meaningful way) in a category that is truly tough to penetrate… Ooops, was it a faux pas? Didn’t mean it. We are outta here, guys. Its getting too hot!


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