A very beautiful woman in bold strides walks through a hotel lobby with a Cheetah on a leash and the lobby concierge with a nervous smile tells her “we got your popular version ready.” This might be a CNN ad. The woman disdainfully responds ‘I don’t do popular version.’ Within seconds, both the head turner cheetah and the beautiful woman, again walk through the lobby… and the same commercial repeats five times consecutively. The surprise and novelty of the commercial was endearing, intriguing and memorable.
Expectedly, come countless commercials in loops, like a disease that’s come into vogue recently just like FOGG, DENVER, PAYTM and other advertised goodies, ad nauseum, eating up Tata Sky airtime wholesale. Novel and intriguing ad, that first one, when the imperious woman grabs attention that sticks like glue. It made a place in my head and heart as a memory. But, of course, a deluge of copycat ADMEN with their commercials minted overnight are doing consecutive reruns n times until you almost throw up. I nearly did one time when a paraplegic octopus in the company of a venerated Amitabh Bachhan is selling Dr. Fix-It water proofing something. If I caught that visual inadvertently in my peripheral vision butterflies started to swim in my stomach. The picture of the beautiful woman would come back to me and ask why are admen such shamefaced copycats? Not only do they copy concepts; also, techniques. And they don’t even do it deftly. Graphics are shoddy, crowded, noisy, without sense of space. Colors are loud and garish taking their cue from religious symbology; concepts, unfailingly, teeter around mannerisms of actor’s familiar Bollywood persona. In other words, product is subliminally underpinned and encumbered by an overbearing and unneeded celluloid image that upends the product, because larger than life actor has become larger than advertised product.
Why is hard work, imagination and well- rounded creativity an anathema to film and advertising workforce. New breed of Models (mostly actors) must disavow addiction to familiar milieu of film and raise their ambition to be beside themselves and, say, depict a hot dog by just standing upright and still and tip head to left or right. Robin Williams did it successfully. If he could do it so can a Bombay actor. Isn’t height of an actor’s ambition to be beside himself… to be something other than himself, i.e., a hot dog. Alternatively, improvise and enhance a product just so advertising transmits message with a laser focus. For actors it shouldn’t be about money. They are not worshipper of poverty. Are you? You have enough?
In the evening of your life why don’t you do it for ambition and adapt to the product. Enrich the ‘commercial’ maker with skills that draw from experience. They are really bad with acoustics and audio engineering despite baritone, alto-, or mezzo of voiceovers. Forget about your mannerism, tick and muscle twitch, teach them how to record audio without letting surrounding noise kill it. Just do it.
The commercial is a different beast. But you can parley parts of your film experience into helping lift advertising standards.
Charlie Chaplin developed some techniques in cinematography when forced to invent to save his foot from a descending axe during a shoot. Don’t turn eye candy into eye fatigue with excess such as nauseating reruns.
A chateaubriand steak will taste like gristle and wine like water with such advertising alchemists. When will they ever learn?
DENVER is a perfume, not a cologne, to SRK, but who cares. Educated though, SRK is not fashionista enough to know the nuances of cologne and perfume. As the new god of things IPL, let’s let him gloat in his advertising wisdom, ‘preparation comes before success’ because it is so “even in the dictionary” he tells us in an emotionally charged hiss when he sells us Denver, the ‘perfume,’ and not cologne.” Hiss or lisp, the intonation or inflexion of those words is so unnaturally subsonic that SRK has a small chest and that ‘subsonic’ has a different set of rules in vocalization. It’s about registers not accents. Result: Vocalamity. ‘Even dictionary says so’ is a part of such vocalamity. Voice and accent are a part of SRK’s message. Where was the audio engineer? Where was the audio engineer when octopus Sharmaji purrs like a bullfrog sickening enough to give headache to an advil. Copywriters’ imaginings or mnemonic associations of sound are beyond disgusting if you controlled the product quality. Even ugly Sharmaji withdraws shamefaced into his shell leaving Big B by himself to lord over his terrestrial ecosystem.
Indian media planners copy even excessive sickness as if that were something fashionable. First there is eye candy and then comes eye fatigue in short order.
Eye fatigue could well be another name for DAVP…Department of Audio Visual Promotion. It’s a kind of govt. fund for compliant publications that DAVP subsidizes. DAVP support helps publications like this present one keep its head above water. If publication doesn’t comply it will die of malnutrition. In my long innings in journalism I have known many who did die because they didn’t comply. Usually govt advertising to publications comes in any shape, form or manner but bulk of it is as legal tender. At the Statesman during my tenure nearer the helm, I used to see a lot of State Trading Corporation (STC) tenders.
Facebook has all the records. With 5G most of IOT devices that will piggybank on Fiber optic cable networks most of them will be hackable. Imagine Amazon and google in that hackable space it would be hard to short circuit concerted attempts at data breaches etc.