Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Advertisement Hype and Sad Reality

There is an advertisement frequently aired by a big nationalised Bank on TV. A customer of the said Bank gets into a tram ( obviously in Kolkata since that is the only Indian city which still has Trams) and sits by the side of an officer of the Bank without recognizing him. The officer, noticing that the customer has not recognised him , starts a conversation with him, half humourously and half sarcastically, to tell the customer that the latter has forgotten him since he has taught the customer the nuances of internet banking and thus obviated the need for the customer to visit the bank at all; and now the customer does not even recognize the officer. The idea behind this advertisement is to tell the viewers that the bank is customer-friendly in the old-fashioned way , maintaining social contacts with them while simultaneously being modern enough to use tools such as internet for the benefit of the customers.
My personal experience with this particular Bank makes me wonder on which planet the officer portrayed in the advertisement lives and which utopian branch of the Bank he works in. In my experience with the branch of the said Bank in my locality, neither any officer nor any clerk of the bank is friendly even to regular customers;none of the staff exhibits any understanding of any modern tools of customer service. Whether it be updating the simple Savings Bank account Pass book or issuing a new cheque book or making available with a tolerable delay the ' Tax Deduction at Source' statements, the service is annoyingly poor. So, advertisements such as the one described above can not fool any one familiar with the said bank.
While the claim made by so-called beauty soaps such Lux can be forgiven since the claim is decades-old and by-now totally unbelieved hype, what is more objectionable are the advertisement hypes by special soaps such as Aloe Vera soaps and Turmeric (Haldi or Manjal) soaps. Soaps are soaps and Chemists say that to maintain stabilty and durability, these soaps contain several chemical additives in the same way as any normal soap. The special 'health-adding' ingredients such as Aloe Vera or Turmeric are so little in quantity that they are not adequate to offer extra health benefits. So, why fool the gullible viewers and charge a premium?
Stain Remover
The advertisements on the various products that serve as remover of stains on clothes are the worst liars. The sales girl in one such advertisement demonstrates the effectiveness of a fast-selling brand and very effortlessly removes the stain on the clothes after deliberately staining a shirt of some one watching the demo and ironing the shirt to dry the stain, thus making it harder to remove. If you believe the advertisement and buy the product, you would soon know how invalid the claim is. I have tried the product and found it not half as effective as claimed.
Where is the accountability?
The above are just a few samples picked up from among the several advertisements which promise paradise and ever-lasting happiness in return for customers' money and blind faith. It is the same story whether the advertised product is soap or mutual fund or mobile phone.
Is there any non-profit organisation which is interested in exposing the hollow claims of so many such advertisers? I look around and find none. In the meantime, gullible people keep buying the false claims with their hard-earned money and wait patiently for the promised benefit to arrive.

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