The Pug is Really Not Happy

Vodafone’s new advertisement attracted customers to its desk by a new tag line ‘Happy to Help’. The silent ad seems to appeal to the customers with an essence of quality services provided. And yet, this ad failed to satisfy the Animal Welfare Board (AWB) of India.

At present, Vodafone operates in 56 countries and not long ago, it entered the Indian markets. The Board became a serious threat to the giant telecom service provider Hutch. According to AWB, the pug has been subjected to cruelty in the advertisement where it runs after a bus with a tie in its mouth. It may be happy to help the girl in the ad but it was unable to help the company in any way. Instead, it drew the company to serious controversies. The AWB has issued a legal notice of animal cruelty to Vodafone and Nirvana Films, the advertising agency that is responsible for making the ad. The Board says that the ad has been telecast illegally as the Boards Film Screening Committee had objected to the portion where the dog runs behind the bus. In addition, the dog was made to chase the school van for a long time thereby causing it severe pain.

In defence, company said in a press statement, “We have received the notice from AWB. We did obtain AWB’s permission before the shoot, just as we have on all occasions in the past. It is clear from seeing the film that the dog could not have been subjected to any form of cruelty. We have sought AWB’s time to explain this in person and are hopeful for an early meeting for resolution to this matter.”

I was very much impressed with the advertisement because it drew my attention towards the ways in which Vodafone manages to satisfy the customers. No company would advertise on television, which is worth a fortune just to make its customers realise that the service provider is happy to help. However, I had failed to actualise the circumstances under which the advertisement had been made. It takes numerous retakes to finalize an ad. I can imagine how much the pug must have had to suffer. Moreover, there have been more than just one ad on the same theme, which adds to the burden on the dog. I also agree that it is a serious case of cruelty on animals as it would leave the dog with nothing, but the owner of the dog with riches.

The Board has, however, asked the company to remove that portion and submit the ad again for consideration. But would that compensate the pug in any way? These days, advertisements are made for the pleasure of the viewers/customers. If the customer does not feel happy, he will not use the product or service. Vodafone, in an attempt to make the ad more pleasurable, has transcended the boundaries. Instead, it should use the pug for entertainment purposes, if necessary, on the same theme, However, there should be no cruelty on an innocent dog.

Sanjay Kataria

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