Advertisements: A Blessing or a Menace?

The man jumped on top of a moving truck, past a container, over a car, jumping from pavement to pavement, did atleast five somersaults in the air until he landed on top of a building, just in time to demolish it. How did he manage all that? By just taking a swig from his trusty carbonated drink!


An advertisement is supposed to be a way of communicating with the masses. They are meant to circulate a message that is both practical and realistic. But over the past years, the advertisements that we see on our televisions every day have taken up a new form, a form whose basic purpose is to baffle the naïve viewer.


Due to the advancement in technology and extensive use of graphics, every idea for an advertisement is always blown out of proportion. The end result being that the viewer is not urged to buy the advertised product, rather at times goes into a complex about their own existence. For example, adding fuel to the fire of our societies growing need for “fairer” women, is an advertisement about a fairness cream. The message of the advertisement: if you don’t use this specified fairness cream, the chances of wedding proposals coming for you are non existent.


Take another example, a shampoo commercial, where as the lady walks in to the room, cameras start flashing, people start “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” and every flash reflects off of her mirror shine hair. And just because she has shiny hair, people come and talk to her, and above all that her husband is happy with her! The message of the advertisement: if your hair does not have the perfect degree of shine you will make no friends, your married life will be dull, and your husband will probably cheat on you. It is truly hard to believe that the soul happiness of your life depends on your hair.


Keeping in mind that such messages are being put across to the general masses, consumer rights associations have been set up. These protect the rights of the layman, and create awareness about advertisements that might be misleading, and products that are available in the market which might be dangerous for the consumer.  


Truth be told, we need such associations, because a normal house-wife cannot gauge the truthfulness of an advertisement, because it is not about honesty any more, rather it is more about “survival of the most glamorous”. These commercials are actually challenging our intelligence by showcasing such unrealities, and making us wonder if all this is really possible. 


Some psychologists even consider this to be a way of shying away from the harsh realities of life; which you might even call “schizophrenia”. The real question in this is who really suffers from this disease, is it the consumer or the producer?  In my view, the real conclusion should be that the producers and writers of commercials should try keeping their feet firmly on the ground, and not evolve their commercials on the basis of spaceships and mermaids, rather do something useful, like collective advertising. Collective advertising is when a number of companies come together to inform the viewer about one common topic, for example, the advantages of milk, the hazards of smoking, etc.  


If that did happen, both the advertising agencies and the viewers would be at an advantage. In short, commercials should stick to their soul purpose of creating awareness among the people, and informing potential consumers of new products, rather than creating a complete short film for the commercial of a chewing gum.


Khadija Ranjha