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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

iPhone 4 ad in India

Continuing with the time tested formula of using ads made for western audiences directly in India so much as without a tweak, the iPhone 4 ad is out on Indian television. Now let's see, the following checklist always ensures a great hit in India,

a. Western faces - Check
b. Western names - Check
c. Western accent - Check

Of course such though lines are strictly blasphemous in India and people like me are hounded and harrassed and expected to toe the original Macualite pseudo-secular "broad-minded" line. Poor us Indians. Colonial hangover is so strongly rooted in us that it might take another kalpa for us to get out of it. 

One of my western clients always used to say when I used to show them some demo of a product, she would say "please use western sounding names instead of Indian ones in the test data". Hypocrisy spares no one and I am no exception. I never had the guts to ask her (would have gotten myself fired from my job) what she meant by a western sounding name. Of course both she and I knew that she meant christian anglo-saxon names like say "David Richardson" or "Mark Smith". It could never be the name of a non anglo-saxon immigrant who had long settled down in the States or in Europe. For example, Dimitry Topolev or Valdimir Sikorsky. It also cannot be say "Jaswinder Singh" or "Muhammad Hamid". What? These folks have been settled in the West for so long that they are obviously Westerners right? If White Polish people could immigrate from Poland in the 1850's and be termed Westerners today then why cannot our "Vladimir" or "Jaswinder" pass off as westerners? Or is that only Christian White people qualify for westerners? These answers we will never know as the subject is taboo and hardly moot in western society. In India you will see the reverse trend to it. Ashrafi Muslims who openly take pride in their Turkic, Persianic or Arabic roots are readily accepted as Indians and "Mohammed" can very much be a "Indian" name. But no siree, not in the west, you can abandon your roots, convert to christianity and become a Bobby Jindal or Nikki Haley but you never will be a Westerner. Sure is a funny world. And this comes from the melting pot of cultures, it is not difficult to see that if the mix does not boil down to something Christian and White then it definitely is no Western thing. 

With the above being raised, I now ask why don't we in India have the right to see Indians and Indian sounding names in Indian ads. Is it so difficult to even shoot an ad for an Indian audience? And then there is this new ad for the Octane deodorant. It features, you guessed it, non-Indic looking actors. This is a new fad now, you have a case which can pass off as Indian elite or as mediterranean or as middle eastern. But definitely not readily Indian in appearance. How's that for ad austerity? Re-use the same ad and the damn Indians will never find out. Add to this the new Hyundai Verna ad.

BTW this ad can pass off easily as a soft porn video. It's no plain old Surf ad that the whole family would happily huddle together and watch. At the end of the ad, it is mentioned that this deodorant is a product of the "Elder" group of companies or some corporate entity like that. I thought this ain't no "Elder" buddy, this is "Adult". Either it was an insance coincidence or a sort of sadistic humour on part of the ad-makers but whatever is sure that it is another one of those Indian ads with foreigner looking people as eye candy in it to impress Indian buyers and make them buy the goods. Colonial hangover struck Indians are but only too obliging to do the same. 

And there is this other ad for the Lumix camera. Atul Kasbekar proudly says that the camera can make people in it appear more fairer with some "cool" feature in it. What a shame! If we din't have enough of an embarrassment with the fairness creams this had to come around as well. Yatha Raja Thatha Prajah now has an equivalent saying in, Yatha audience thatha ad-maker. 

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