21 January 2014

Maddening Ad Fads!

As Indian economy grows smartly and foreign majors knock at our doors eager to get a foothold, we consumers will become the focus of the marketing fraternity. Stiff competition means every customer has to be reached out to both at home and outside. This leads to a veritable advertising blitzkrieg! Even as we speak, ad gurus are pulling out all stops, thinking out of the box as they goes in for the kill so to speak. Practically, it means all spaces - be they natural or manmade are used to reach out to us, the consumers! Thus we find pavements advertising telecom carriers, bus shelters displaying new housing schemes and public transport vehicles looking like a well decorated cake as images scream out qualities of some product.

One has to admire the versatility of the creative minds, as using conventional ad space in print/ radio/hoardings is passé. Thus newspapers or magazines now have promotional sachets stuck on to them for free trials. I don’t know if the move has made a difference to product sales but some newspaper delivery boys certainly made a quick buck selling off these samples! Companies increasingly splurge on dedicated four-page supplements or glossy magazine pullouts to showcase their product!

None of us rush to answer a ringing telephone anymore; as there is a hefty chance it will be someone trying to sell an insurance policy/credit card/ loan. I have yet to meet a person who has taken up this telephonic loan proposal. The range of products being touted via SMSs range from ‘sizzling’ celebrity photo and music downloads to meal deals, mock croc bags and several other frivolous accessories!

This entire onslaught obviously makes business sense or else companies would not be spending so much money in troubling us! Apparently we now have some choice over this unsolicited intrusion of privacy (the latest Trai guidelines) all done in the name of advertising. Our ad gurus however have more up their sleeves!

Like a species threatened with extinction, advertising is constantly metamorphosing to compete and grow! Just as I was congratulating myself on choosing the staircase over the elevator to go to the fifth floor, I was greeted by advertisements put up on the vertical face of steps. Can a person not even get breathless in peace is what I would like to ask? At a multiplex I found chair backs of seats sporting ads. How many people were likely read and register the product described there as they juggle with popcorn and coffee in the dark and negotiate rows of outstretched feet beats me!

And if that was not enough, I saw a hospital logo emblazoned on the shoulder sling of an unsuspecting patient. I hope he was given a discount in medical charges for carrying around the ‘discreet’ ad for the entire duration of his immobilisation! I have read of celebrities endorsing designer apparel, jewellery and even being paid to wear/use a particular brand in a bid to get us to opt for the same label. I too have succumbed and actually let some star decide which hair oil I use! Same goes for ads featuring endearing children. Hey no one complaints of child labour here do they?

Print, outdoor, film, telecom, Internet – there seemed apparently no new frontier for marketing to conquer. That’s when I came across this article that said brands would also be sold on skin! I’m not sure how many celebrities or models will agree to get themselves tattooed to sell products - I am told it is a painful process indeed. Unless of course the temporary variety is chosen, which would naturally mean equally fickle market loyalties on our part!

All in all, we consumers are fair game to innovative advertising blitzes, mad ad fads- ones that are designed to leave us lighter on the wallets!
First published in a now extinct website 4indianwoman.com on 24 Nov 2007  
Thanks to new rules, unwanted marketing calls and text messages as mentioned above have reduced considerably now!

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