Thursday, February 11, 2010

mAd Nauseam

This is a lazy random rant.

Watching ads has become a pastime for me, the past 2.5 weeks. Sometimes I just blank out watching them. The ad passes through my eyes and ears, bypassing the brain and goes right out.

Unlike in India where the ads do not reference their competition by name, it is a cut-throat world here. Competitors are named explicitly and their products (also named) taken to task. In India, ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India), the watchguard body of Indian advertising, does not seem to allow calling names. You can guess the product in question. E.g. the Complan and Horlicks health drink ads. I think for a very short time, one of them named the other, but withdrew the ad after complaints. You can see a list of decisions taken on questionable ads at Interesting read.

A recall of a few of the ads that I have been badgered with.
  • Mobile telephone service ads-Everybody wants a pie of the game. Verizon and AT&T are on an all-out war naming each others' network as bad either in terms of functionality, coverage etc showing US maps showing how bad the other's coverage is or giving away phones for free for long term contracts with them. Buy one phone-get three free, kind of.
  • Car insurance ads-Geico and AllState are always at loggerheads with Progressive throwing in more fuel into the fire. 15% or not, we don't ever worry much about motor insurance and liability. And funny that Geico uses a British accent in their radio ads.
  • Car ads-Mostly I see the GM car ads comparing with Toyota or Honda on how better they are with fuel efficiency, crash safety etc. The Toyota recall is having some of these folks active with ads. Make hay while the sun shines.
  • Lawyers and attorney agents-Have you heard of Mesothelioma? I learnt that it is a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure from attorney houses and lawyers ad-ing on the TV. There are tons of ads these days stating, if you took this medicine or that medicine and if you suffer xyz ailment, that you may be eligible for settlement et al. There is one class 'helping' you to get around IRS (Internal Revenue Service, their Income Tax department) threats using legal restraints. Another states they will help you pay off your credit card loan with funds from Obama's stimulus program. For one, I think most of the attorneys here are like leeches, gnawing at you for their pound of flesh, no matter how much John Grisham glorifies them.
  • Vanity creams et al-Oh Man, Cindy Crawford comes around showing her serum collection used by the creme de la fashion. There are acne removal creams, blackspot reducers, sunscreens, anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, botox and lots of other chemical treatment on your face and body. And what is it with these folks' constant reference to Europe when they strut their stuff? Does it imply a European hangover with respect to fashion? Maybe!
  • Food ads-McDonalds, Burger King, Applebees and whatever. My burger is bigger and better than yours, 150 calorie meals, blah blah. Nation of junk foodies. :-) Not to mention pet food, pet medicine and vitamin supplements for the pets, leave alone the owners.
  • Health and Fitness-Drink this, drink that and tons of probably useless gym equipment bandied about on the Home Shopping Network to get you up to shape. Slimming pills, weight loss devices, fitness programs, you name it, they got it. And discounts, bazaar style. Call in the next 20 minutes and you'll get one absolutely free.
  • Others-Damn, there is even a gems and jewellery channel peddling 14k gold with all kinds of colored stones like the ones which we get from our gypsy folks (kuravan, kuraththi)
I am yet to see the famous Super Bowl (World Cup 'American football') ads. Almost 3 million dollars for a 30 second spot for each of the ads. Aside, I have no clue why these folks call it a World Cup. I don't think even Canada is included in the group.

Hmmm... The rantosaurus rests here.


zeno said...

Felt the american culture and america had been captured right in one single blog post :):)
No wonder MBA's and lawyers make good money in US when compared to other parts of world!

Ramesh said...

Wow - this is like an ad man's handbook. Did you say the ads flew past you ???

I can'tfigure out the Super Bowl mania too - that price is ridiculous for any ad. Unless you are Janet Jackson .....

Swaram said...

LOL .. competitors taken to task :P
Wonder what will the result be if it happens here ;)

chennaigirl said...

@ Though they dont show explicitly here, we sure know from their reference and color to which product they refer to.
Attorney agents and Lawyers - Dont they have any ethical code of conduct as such which exists in India. Its not like products rite where u advertise....

RamMmm said...

@zeno-Thanks. :) Lawyers, definitely. Those guys/gals know how to mint money.

@Ramesh-:-D Yep, the ads flew through me with some subconscious imbibition. Everytime I see them, I get a new perspective.

Super Bowl ads are traditionally high priced. People watch the Super Bowl for the ads. But you can't beat the viewership of that game (it was last Sunday). 107 million viewers in the US. That is almost 1/3rd of the population. Google introduced its Buzz platform there.

@Swaram-Oh Yep! They put stats out (obviously a negative profile) of their competition and say this is what their product (or service) is all about. In India, we circumvent direct reference by surrogate ads. E.g. everyone knows Smirnoff is known for vodka. They show Smirnoff soda or CD ads. Who buys the soda or the CD? Same with ITC earlier. Surrogate cigarette ads.

@chennaigirl-Yes, My foremost example is the Complan, Horlicks ads. You can identify the other by the color of the product or the claim rephrased in a slightly different manner.

There is a code of ethics for lawyers in the US, but they advertise their services as consulting, stating that as a speciality. Even doctors do advertising here. :-) (Come to XYZ clinic, we have renowned docs and specialists here blah blah) At the end, it is all a packaged product.