When advertisements offend sensibilities

A new advertisement for chocolates from a well established brand being broadcast in Indian radio has a major shock value. The advertisement highlights the smoothness of the chocolate by establishing a very courteous black mail. In this advertisement, the eyewitness in a legal case is gifted insurance by the opposing party.  The smoothness of this blackmail is equated to that of the chocolate. Yes, the idea shocked me and has made me remember the brand.  But is it okay to shock sensibilities of listeners to sell the product.

In the past we have had advertisements highlighting the effectiveness of fairness creams which would have definitely hurt dark skinned people. They would show how fair skinned people have better chance of success in jobs or personal lives. They would also promise that these fairness creams can dramatically alter the color of the skin. These advertisements gave rise to many questions – Are they trying to say that dark skin means failure? Are they highlighting that our society is racial and worse is it promoting racialism? Can these creams dramatically alter your skin tone?   Some of these advertisements were pulled down later.

A deodorant advt was also pulled down after women objected to the advt which showed them in poor light.

These advt were pulled down thanks to the efforts by Advertisements Standard Council of India which is a voluntary body.  One can complain to ASCI and if this industry body finds the advt to be distasteful or giving wrong information, they would take it up with the advertisers.  ASCI however, does not have enough teeth to pull down an advt. Fortunately,  80% of the advertisers according to the ASCI website have heeded to their decisions.

So you know where to go, if you find a  particular advt. to be offensive

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