Criticism of Advertising
Advertising is known to perform three main functions, that is, ‘inform’, ‘persuade’ and ‘remind’. However, in doing so, it attracts a lot of criticism especially in a society which would be resistant to part ways from it’s cultural norms or orthodox behaviour.
Often for the sake of being trendy and different, companies make use of wrong grammar and incorrect spellings. When OWSUM was launched one of the first few things to get noticed was the billboards and then the spelling! Now what exactly are kids going to learn? The benefits of milk consumption or too much dependence on Microsoft Word? Perhaps it’s the correct way of using incorrect spellings . . .
Why a brand that is targeting children doesn’t realize the importance of the having the right word as it’s brand name? It probably is a trendy incorrect spelling to make children learn. However, Engro Foods has come up with this unique strategy to name their flagship brands starting with the letter, ‘O’. I recently got to try this brand and one must notice how nice and colourful the packaging is despite having too much text. It would no doubt attract children to read each and every word until the milk is brought to room temperature.
An interesting procedure mentioned is about how once consumed it should be blown followed by a mini explosion and then dumped into the bin. So the company aims at educating kids about cleanliness and keeping their society free of garbage but correct words ? It doesn’t really matter.
Thinking about dairy products by Engro it becomes evident that all of these brands are in much greater demand which seems unfulfilled as well, speaking of which Omore, the ice cream brand makes sure that it pools in all its efforts to irritate the potential target audience that seems to remain it’s potential audience till eternity and not ultimate consumers who would ever get to have the ice cream in tangible form. The company seems to be oblivious of the fact that it is creating frustration and disgust in places where ever it is unavailable. It simply increases the demand for competitors’ ice cream and if one out of thousands of people gets to have Omore in Karachi people assume that individual to be in Lahore. After it’s jingle adapted from Coca Cola, it’s somewhat unclear why Omore’s advertisements keep on talking about the tickling effect. Why would anyone want to have ICE CREAM that creates such a weird effect, people should rather have Candy Land’s ‘Toxic Waste’ for that matter, it really is something, perhaps it means what it’s titled as. It’s an interesting thing to have because of it’s sourness.
Well coming back to the actual discussion . . . another brand that has been satisfied over the years with it’s wrong pronunciation is KNORR. Why isn’t the ‘K’ silent? Why is it Ka-Norr and not ‘norr’ (pronunciation wise)? For many people who can’t get the pronunciation of the word ‘pronunciation’ right it’s a huge blow. It’s weird that when you go to a nearby grocery store and ask for KNORR mentioning it’s right use and silent use of ‘K’ the shopkeeper would be oblivious to the brand and when you say, ‘I want Ka-NORR noodles’ they would understand what you are talking about. It’s funny and sad at the same time.
Another perfect fit for grammar’s criticism is Supreme’s tag line ‘Chaskay Zindagi Kay’. Why would it move from a previously decent tagline to this one? The word ‘Chaskay’ has such a negative connotation, it seems more appropriate with drugs and drug addicts, not tea. It would seem more appropriate with ‘Chaskay Cigarette Kay’ or ‘Chaskay Cocaine Kay’ (well whatever way it is consumed). And then the word ‘Chaskay’ or ‘Chaska’ gets so frequently used with product placement of Eid Shows that it becomes unbelievable.
Another among the very interesting criticisms is that advertising persuades people to buy things that they do not need and eventually get to waste money. Tele brands in Pakistan get people into a buying trap they would later regret. If brands could make you further sprout up your height after a certain age limit or even before that we wouldn’t have people with short heights. Having product displays would have paved way to some credibility, however, internet seems comparatively more credible than television advertising for brands without product outlets.
Advertisers either consciously or unconsciously get to stereotype people. Why all detergent advertisements show women and why do some stereotype women for not being tech savvy. For example, in our ‘Advertising’ class we were told that World Call’s wireless broadband advertisement was stereotyping women for not knowing how to plug wires (Aurora Jan-Feb 10: 28), it was too sexiest with the picture of a woman with a ruthless expression, ‘No power required’, mention the print advertisement.
However, market segments could be segmented by presenting minorities and women more realistically. This still means that you do your target profiling sensibly and realistically. A few days back Fair & Lovely samples were being distributed at SZABIST, however. I am sure most of us don’t even think of using it. This brand has more of a persuading effect in the rural market. Why should people feel left out if they have a slightly darker skin tone? Why would anyone want to become fairer than what she/ he already are? Well ‘he’ . . . yes, ‘he’. I am in my right mind when I use the word ‘he’. This reminds me of an example our Marketing teacher once gave us. Her brother became fond of Fair & Lovely but was too ashamed to reveal it and thus had developed a habit of emptying the tube’s content in Nivea jar so that no one would know. Hence, we now have Fair & Handsome.
As recently pointed out by our Advertising teacher, Pepsi had sponsored Clifton’s Donkey Cart Race (if that actually has happened which quite some people are witnesses of). According to him, with the launch of Sting and activation going on, it is definitely a bad idea. Similarly, why would they want to target or rather affiliate themselves with a particular ethnic group? It could be signs of moving from globalization to localization or disappointment from cricket and affection for a new sport . . . Donkey Cart Racing. Or maybe this is another way of saying, “So what if horses are smart? Donkeys are hard working!”
Donkeys obey when horses disobey . . . remember: Pepsi supports donkeys!
[Image Credits: http://www.masternewmedia.org/online_marketing/video-monetization/online-video-advertising-and-monetization-guide-20070826.htm]