This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Liars, Inc.

May 2007

We are surrounded by people paid to be mendacious.
Some of them are the obvious suspects: politicians above all, but also weather forecasters, fiction writers (all right, this means I'm hoist by my own petard, but at least I'm not yet paid to be mendacious - I have not till date earned a single low-denomination coin from my fiction, have I?), journalists, spin doctors, and so on. But there is another type, so ubiquitous they are everywhere - hell, there are some on the side bars of this page.
I refer to the tribe called advertisers, and the job they do.
Not all of them - not any of them, by and large - are as honest as the photo on top, an advert for a German TV news channel. Almost all of them are out to make you spend your money by lying to you about what whatever it is they are plugging is capable of. And the more outrageous the lie, apparently, the better.
OK, I do agree that since I never ever read ads any more and if  - rather, when, they're there as regular as clockwork - ads come up on the rare occasion when I'm flipping channels on TV I just hit the remote, I may not be the ideal person to talk on this. But that doesn't mean I can avoid ads, because you can't even open up your newspaper without half the page being taken up by some grinning half clad woman with an impossible body type selling toothpaste.
Some of it is just abrasively silly. Some of it is wholesale destruction of the environment, as with those glossy extra pages with the papers which take all those trees and all that ink to make and which carries nothing except ads for cruises and clothing lines, some disguised as "lifestyle articles". Some of it is downright stupid, as the line of ads which sold Polo mints in India as "The Mint With The Hole". Yeah, a hole through the centre was its USP! They really must have thought the average consumer wasn't bright enough to deduce that a hole meant a hole's worth less mint per piece.
As my cousin, an advertising executive, freely admits, advertisers proceed on the assumption that you and I have the IQ of a retarded maggot. 
And some of it gets dangerous, like when the advertisers buy the news and make it slant its reportage one way or the other. I remember when the sponsorship boom was taking off some ten or twelve years ago and a sarcastic commentator said "At this rate they'll be sponsoring the news soon enough." Well, not only is the news sponsored now, it's been bought over. And they can advertise wars as well as milk chocolate.
Oh yeah. Let's not forget the surrogate ads. When liquor ads were banned, on Indian media, they began advertising anything else. Anything, even if it did not exist, so long as it carried the liquor brand's name. My favourite was the one where they advertised the bottle, not its contents. Brilliant!
And that's not the end of it. Just check the ads themselves. There are those that take you for a total idiot, so they have to rub your face in the message before they admit you get it. There are those that are so esoteric you go cross-eyed trying to make out what the hell they are selling and what the logical connection, if any, is between the ad and the product. Sometimes you don't even get to understand what the  product is
And there was this ad where (I do not remember the product) a line of (dark, traditionally clad, non-beautiful) village women are wending their way across the sands of the desert, jars of water on their heads, when a (young, fair, pretty, half clad, obviously urban) girl begins taunting them. The infuriated women begin hurling the water they are carrying on her - and this is precisely what she wants, and she begins dancing with pleasure in the shower of water.
Now India is full of village women who walk many kilometres each day for a few precious pots of water. Mocking them, it must have seemed to the morons who wrote this particular ad, was the acme of humour.
So they are not just stupid and lying. They are utterly insensitive as well.

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