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Saturday, July 05, 2008


Is I&B Ministry’s ad ban spree mere outrage at obscenity or a move to gag the industry?

The Amul Machothunder-down-under (read men’s jocks!) has been given a solid jolt by being served (legal) notice to stop the plunder and surrender to the august body called the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B). Two ads in this category – Amul Macho (ranked as Bakwaas ad by 4Ps B&M) and Lux Cozy have been alleged to have a ‘negative’ effect on zillions of tele-viewers and generally playing havoc with the very concept of ‘family viewing’!

Coming ahead of the proposed broadcast bill – designed to control media outbursts of the wrong kind – the banning of these ads is being seen by many in ad-frat as sending out the wrong signals. Within the media industry as a whole, advertising was the only vertical where self regulation had been somewhat successful, with ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) exercising some control. ASCI had given these two ads the ‘clean’ chit just about a month ago, and the I&B (over?)ruling now has only served to undercut the ASCI authority. The word ‘gag’ has also been making the rounds.

Before anything else, what are these ‘evil’ ads about and what are they saying – or showing – that have shaken up the sensibilities of these august bodies? The Amul Macho ad shows a young, attractive woman at a ghat, with a bundle of clothes, who is seemingly washing her husband’s Amul Macho underwear. Her expressions while washing the garment (arguably totally fantasy driven) shocks her companions and her body language blows their mind. The voice-over comes on to the super: Amul Macho – Crafted for Fantasies. The Lux Cozy ad too has a washerwoman, who’s calling at an apartmentto collect laundry. A man (wearing only a towel) opens the door; but accidentally drops the towel. Well, the washerwoman’s eyes – darting fast and furious - at the undies, register naughty delight!

TheKama Sutra powers-that-be are however far from delighted at these slip ups and refuse to believe it is ‘andar ki baat hai’ anymore. Over-ruling ASCI’s earlier green signal to the Amul Macho ad, they have banned it as ‘vulgar’ and ‘unfit for family viewing’ and point toward sustained pressure/complaints from the general viewing public. According to ASCI, the difference in opinion (between the two) comes due to the difference in the respective codes being followed by them. Now, that’s a real original one!

While the I&B Ministry bemoans that “more than vulgarity and obscenity, the ad is derogatory because it’s not breaking away from stereotypes,” advertisers insist that what is being deemed “offensive” is only “actual clutter-bursting for a brand!” JWT’s Josy Paul who had worked on one of these commercials says that while the responsibility of the creative guy certainly comes into play, “the other three i.e. client, consumer and channel must not be overlooked, forgotten or ignored. It is a collective thing,” he avers. Are those for/ against the proposed broadcast bill listening carefully?
Edit lead: Monojit Lahiri

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2008

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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