It’s an Ad, Mad World! – Anup Kumar Agarwalla

I routinely meet people who try to convince me that what I do for a living – help create dreams that my clients match their goods and services with – is really of no real consequence. That advertising, seldom if ever, create tomes that outlive even their purpose, forget about testing eternity. I will not let myself be drawn into an argument and will certainly steer absolutely clear of politics (as in the contribution of us admen in the making of some of our larger than life men) but I guess, I need to put in a word for the fraternity. So here are a few facts:

Hollywood. That Icon of Americans (and by “default” of the free world) – as visible as the mount of Rushmore and the statue of liberty – yes, I’m talking of that sign in jagged lettering that reads “Hollywood”, was originally set up by a property developer. Thank You advertising.

Any why just Hollywood? Did you know that the Blue of boys and the Pink of girls – were basically the extension of campaigns that were aimed at segregating the markets? Barbie Pink, my friends, was our gift to humanity.

Smelling a rat in what I’m driving at? OK, so smell it will be. Let’s talk BO (body odour). Did you know, it was one young lady with a product that her surgeon father had “invented” to keep his hands dry during surgical procedures, was what created the market for antiperspirants? Well, it was an ad agency that convinced the world that it is frightfully embarrassing to be socially sweaty and smelly. Now, don’t screw your nose to that, it was indeed one giant leap forward!

And talking of leaps, let’s take the ultimate – Baumgartner’s, who leaped from the edge of space and made it safely on ground. Guys what you may not know, the entire exercise was one that was backed by RedBull. And every time one forwarded the clips that still swamp the net or posted it on one’s wall, one was actually, literally, helping an ad to go viral. Strange are the ways of mice and (Advertising) men, my friend.

Want more? The entire movement about women and body types was started by Dove, about a decade back, when they ran a campaign called Real Beauty (it sought to stress the fact that Real beauty is inside), but what the heck? The conversation got going and look at the din it is now creating. Not that it is all feminine though. The entire notion that “Size Matters” is actually a phenomenon that has been turned into a tsunami by the Porn industry, creating in its wake a sub class of enhancement products the “size” of its market, being as baffling as its creation. Advertising anyone?

Oh, that is not all. Remember the “Seven Year Itch”? Well, “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend”, is as much vintage Marilyn Monroe as the itch is. Fact remains. One helps sell diamonds. Just the same way that 007 tells you on a subconscious level that Diamonds are Forever. Point is Jewellery is one huge advertising propped industry, the world over. And yes, I am proud to be doing my bit for its continued well being.

And hold your breath, the traditional American breakfast of bacon and eggs, was actually created to sell bacon. No kidding. Most Doctors even then (it was early 1900’s) did not agree that bacon was a healthy thing to eat, but still, one man got America hooked for his own reasons. Well, incidentally, he also got the women to smoke – equating smoking to liberation and freedom. I am a strict vegetarian with no minor vices (pun intended) and would recommend none, but that does not stop me from admiring the advertising that was obviously at work.

Well I can go on and on. But then again, I strictly follow the rules. And too long a copy is not good at retaining the attention of the readers.

Adios apostates.

Anup Kumar Agarwalla is an adman per excellence. He owns and runs one of Kolkata’s most celebrated boutique agencies, Azure Communications. His passion? Advertising. Advertising and more Advertising.


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