Getting Offended By Ads

I saw a TV commercial that enraged me. The first time I didn’t pay a great deal of attention.

A little boy, a well-fed kid, is by himself and finds his shoelace his undone. He decides then and there to learn how to tie it by himself. The camera lingers on him, on his intense look of concentration. He experiments, draws diagrams in the mud. It goes on and on; it looks inspiring. Finally the punchline of the card comes up. I thought it was going to be for a breakfast cereal or a milk additive for your children.

But then, besides his look of triumph you see a message for Surf Excel- “When kids set their mind on something, dirt gets in everywhere. So use Surf Excel to get dirt out of tough corners.” My jaw actually dropped. What was the message of this ad? That no matter what a kid’s learnings are, all that matters is that his clothes are clean? How crass, even cruel can you get?

Am I missing out on something here? I’m still angry- was it meant to be funny? Millions of boys and girls in this country spend their childhood in a school system that discourages self-learning and creative thinking- while we lucky few can write blogposts. Let’s subordinate their creativity to washing powder while we’re at it. Surf Excel is owned by Hindustan Lever. Shame on it, and on its advertising agency.

0 Responses to Getting Offended By Ads

  1. Arnab says:

    My take is that they meant to say this:
    “Your kids will do the most awesome things, and in the process their clothes will get dirty. We have a product to get rid of dirt. Hence, you dont need to scold the kid anymore, let him live, learn and be happy. In other words, we are the necessary agent for free-thinking and self learning.”

    Either ways, if the current Indian market buys this, our next generation is going to be one messy, dirty bunch.

  2. Now, why should one sit and pontificate that Surf Excel is hurting the chances of India’s children to self-learn and think creatively? Why can’t we just let the market decide?


  3. Ravikiran says:

    Shivam, it has been my experience that when you are unclear on a concept, Google is a useful resource.

  4. aka says:

    Thanks Ravikiran!

  5. Gaurav says:

    ROFL!! Aadisht, you now join me and Madhu in the list of bloggers whose satirical writings need to come with a disclaimer – “Please note, this is a satire”.

  6. Gaurav says:

    By the way, my heart is filled with admiration and respect for the canniness and wisdom of people who have mastered the secret art of pointing out an errant URL without giving it google juice. It really is. Just look at the sheer simplicity of the brilliant tactic. Just copy-paste the URL and dont hyperlink it. Genius, eh?

  7. Dilip D says:

    All else being equal, what is “the punchline of the card”?

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