Anant Rangaswami
Mar 08, 2011

Anant’s Blog: New threat to creativity and advertising

The industry needs to nip this in the bud

Anant’s Blog: New threat to creativity and advertising

Last week, while I was on holiday, Kartik Iyer from Happy sent me a link to a new commercial they had created for their client, Myntra (Kartik had called it a viral; I said it could be called so if consumers made it one; till then, it remained, for me, a TVC).

I had a look at the TVC. So can you, here:
 
 
I thought it was a decent film, made at a reasonable budget. Considering that it was created primarily for the Internet, I thought Happy had done a competent job and that their client, Myntra, would be satisfied. I also thought that the TVC would meet the objective – getting consumers to go to Myntra and buy personalized T shirts.
 
And I went back to my holiday, spending no more time thinking about this.
 
Till I saw this:
 
“A website named 'Myntra.com' has denigrated Greatest Hindu Epic 'Mahaharat' and highly revered Guru tradition in Hinduism through an advertisement for promotion. The Advt. makes mockery of Mahabharat and 'Guru' using inappropriate and vulgar language. It is duty of all Hindus to protest lawfully against Anti-Hindu 'www.myntra.com' so that it should immediately withdraw defamatory Advt. and it should render apology to all Hindus for hurting their religious sentiments. All Hindus should also report above You Tube video as 'Abuse' so that it can be closed down.”
 
This was on a website called www.hindujagruti.org.
 
In addition to the statement, the site also details phone numbers and email ids of key personnel and addresses of the myntra.com offices.
 
I was flummoxed; what on earth was in the TVC to offend any Hindu (and I am one)? I logged on to the net, viewed the TVC again and again and again; I remain flummoxed.
 
Which is all very well, but of no help to Happy and to Myntra. They have, jointly, created a piece of communication that is humorous, that plays on the truths that Dhritarashtra was blind and that he had a hundred sons; they extended the hundred to the century in cricket – and finally took all these elements and arrived at the ‘viral’ you have just seen.
 
The references to the Mahabharata and to Dhritarashtra are certainly in jest; and they neither offend me nor were designed to offend me or any other Hindus.
 
Does it matter?
 
Here are previous ‘victories of the HJS:
Successful Protest campaigns by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
 
1. Denigration of Sati Draupadi stopped by 'Amul Body Warmer' after HJS protest 
2. HJS effect: Cadbury India apologises for denigration of Mahabharat 
3. Defamation of Hindu Saints by ITC's 'Bingo Mad Angles' stopped 
4. Denigration of Lord Ganesh stopped by Pantaloons after protest by HJS and devout Hindus
 
I need to have a look at all these pieces of communication and figure out what was offensive and why, for example, Cadbury India, ITC and Pantaloons apologised/ withdrew their communication.
 
The more important question: in what way is the HJS allowed to pass judgement on advertising?
 
There is no end to the problems that one could face in advertising if vested interests and groups and organizations such as the HJS can pass judgement and pressurize brands and advertising agencies into withdrawing communication.
 
We have the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a body that exists to see that objectionable advertising is not released. The HJS (and other organizations such as the HJS) could send a complaint to the ASCI – and then abide by the ruling of the ASCI.
 
I can certainly imagine what the ‘lawful’ protests will be like. So can all of you – and they will not be pleasant.
 
Later today, I will send a link to the TVC to the ASCI and ask them for their opinion on it. Till then, I request all of you, especially the seniormost in the industry, to write in and share your comments on the issue.
 
I’m not asking you to root for the TVC. It’s my opinion that the TVC does nothing to offend; you might think differently. Finally, it’s for the ASCI to take a call.
 
A call that all have to respect.
 
Source:
Campaign India