What is advertising? Are They Proving Us Dumb? Do not underestimate the influence of advertisement in our daily lives.
"Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief." After all What is advertising?
So, Let us try to understand what is advertising and how they are proving us dumb by illustrating a few examples.
Last week I was watching an Indian comedy show on YouTube. The comedian was Varun Grover. He just joked about one of the advertisement that was being shown on one of the Indian TV channels. And that ad was really hilarious. The ad goes like this. There is this dark skinned girl who applies for pilot's job. She goes for the interview and doesn't make it. She comes back, uses fair and lovely cream for 15 days, goes for the interview again and gets selected. Don't you think it is the dumbest ad that has been conceived? But its working. This stupid ad is motivating many to start using Fair and lovely cream. How dumb we can be? But then, I thought, it had always been like that. These big business houses will come out with a dumb product which doesn't make any sense and they will build a brilliant story around their dumb product and prove the public that you are dumb if you are not using their dumb product.
So, I decided to make a list of such products.
- Top dumb idea in my list is, shampoo and conditioner. Do you remember way back in 70s, it used to be only shampoo that used to turn our hair shiny and silky and it used to cost $4. Then they came up with the idea that No, shampoo is only for cleaning the hair and another product "Conditioner" is required to turn your hair shiny and silky. Come on, Why? Original shampoo was working fine. They didn't even need to prove it. They just said that a top Hollywood superstar uses shampoo and conditioner so you all must also use, else you are dumb. We gracefully accepted it. Final result was, now instead of buying shampoo in $4, we spend $4 on shampoo and $4 on conditioner. We even pretend that it all works so well. I again decided not to be trapped in their quest to fool me and searched in the market, any brand of shampoo that doesn't need a conditioner. I could not get, but my wife being an expert shopper managed to find one. But their was a catch. It was only for men!! I fail to understand, whats the difference between a man's hair and women's hair. Or is it easier to fool women? Just kidding.
- Second in my list is after shave lotions. Do you remember, way back in 70s, we used to rub slab of alum to stop blood when you cut your skin while shaving? Then these so called smart guys came up with this dumb idea of after shave lotion. Show me one after shave lotion which will stop blood coming out of your poor skin. None. But these guys will convince you by saying, listen you will feel fresh if you use our after shave. See that hero is fighting with 10 guys after using this after shave. O My god!! How dumb but still they force us to accept it, else you are declared old fashioned. You have blood coming out because of a cut while shaving, let it keep oozing out, use after shave and feel fresh. Its like instead of giving first aid to a person injured in an accident, offer him a new shirt so that he could feel fresh. I decided not to be proved dumb by these guys. Last week I searched almost all the markets of Wellington and found a slab of alum that costed me 99C. It stops blood immediately and I don't have to spend $15 to buy an aftershave that does nothing. If you want to feel fresh, buy any dam perfume.
- Now, coming back to toothpastes, I fail to understand if sweet is bad for our teeth, why all these toothpastes are made sugary? Not only that, An independent body conducted a research by lab testing all brands from cheapest to the most expensive toothpastes. Click Here to read the result of this research. Result was straight forward: "In reality, you're paying extra for essentially the same product.". But can you believe, the power of advertising is so profound that shops continued to sell expensive toothpastes in spite of this result which was properly broadcasted on a very popular TV show here in New Zealand. They keep proving us dumb again and again and we tend to feel honored that they have proved us dumb. I searched on google for a few home made tooth pastes and found this one quite effective. Again like, after shave lotion, they will say you will not feel fresh after doing this. Come on, chew a few fresh mint leaves from your garden. That will make your mouth real fresh. Alternatively, if you belong to tropical country, pluck a soft stem from a neem tree and crush it from one side and use it to clean your teeth. (And because it really works, do not expect it to be sweet).
- Latest product entering my great list is Fitbit. By the way, my whole family is Fitbit crazy. Before I go into the details of Fitbit, let me tell you a small incident that took place before Fitbit arrived in the market. We were in the process of developing an App that will count how many steps you have walked through out the day and if you don't move for 2 hours, it will prompt you to get up and go for a walk. All the modules were made but only problem was that one has to carry the smart phone in the hand if the App detects the movement else it will keep reminding you to get up and go for a walk. One of my colleagues even joked that we may tell people to wrap the phone around their knees to make it work. Anyway, after many brain storming sessions we abandoned the idea of this App. Now, coming back to Fitbit, it was introduced with great pre-launch advertisement gimmicks as it always happens. My wife gifted one to me on Christmas. I configured it wore around my wrist, walked 10 steps from my living room to my car, drove to a suburb in Wellington about 15 Kms away, parked the car and walked another 20 steps to attend a meeting with a client. Guess what? Before I could enter the room, I hear a "Beep", and my phone announces, "Congratulation Ranjan, you have just been awarded a silver badge (or something like that)". I was stunned, I have hardly walked and this fellow has awarded me a badge for walking 30 steps. Then, I realized, these guys have made the same thing that we had conceived off, we abandoned it because we didn't want to fool the people and here these guys are openly fooling the whole world leaving all their ethics on the back burner. Anyway, I reached home and narrated the whole story to my wife and to my surprise, she was already aware of the fact. Then why are you using it if it is giving wrong data to you, I asked. "Well, at least it is giving me some data", was her reply. Attention guys, this is called the power of advertisement. These guys are bent upon proving us dumb and they have created such an atmosphere that we feel proud of being proved dumb. I give up. Why do you need garbage data to know whether you have walked enough or not. It is not going to improve your fitness. You can't punish your body to improve your fitness. It has to be joint exercise between your body and mind. There has to be a "feel good factor" when you go for a walk to improve your fitness. Go and walk bare foot on the beach. Let the waves touch your feet when you are walking and feel it, enjoy it. Listen to the sound created by the waves, smell the air and keep walking. Go for forest breathing. Feel the trees, listen to the song of birds. Try to relate to it and keep walking. That's how you can improve your fitness. Not by, feeling great by receiving a fake silver badge generated by a fake App using a garbage of data.
Guys, what do you think about these facts? If you agree with me, can you think about more such products and concepts which are thrown on us using powerful (?) business houses and powerful media? Or we are simply dumb? Give your verdict.
And finally is it a right way of explaining what is advertising?