Friday, 24 February 2012

Surrogate Advertising

What do I write about that will click with most of ya'll if not all? We all watch the idiot box(some more, some less) and have been witnesses to the intermittent streaming of ads that seem to take up more air-time than the actual show.

Surrogate Advertising. It's possible that not many of you are aware of what it is even though you have seen it happening. Let me proceed to enlighten you thus. I heard this term many long years back when taking a stroll through the bylanes of the city(I dwell in) one evening, two eager looking lad and lady approached me with a piece of paper, pen in hand and a question in their lips - "Ma'm, do you know what's SA?" Me - "What the heck! Ofcourse I know what surrogate means and applying that to the concept of advertising, I know what you are talking about." Clever me, you say(chuckle). The lad and the lady both were Business Administration students from a certain local college working on a project. Okay, now getting down to business, let me tell you that duplicating the brand image of one product extensively to promote another product of the same brand(why? we'll see shortly) is SA. Packaging old wine in new bottle, so to say. Oops! I hope people reading this are all above 25, the legal age for drinking as proscribed by the law of our country. By the way, do they ask you for your birth certificate when you are out there buying a drink over the counter or when you pick a bottle for yourself? Whatever..I'll never know. Examples of SA - CDs, sodas, etc by a certain brand name are used to actually sell other products(banned). See image below.
The Surrogate and the Real
We all acknowledge that advertising plays an extensive role in creating awareness and brand value. Not without reason do you see these companies roping in the likes of Amitabh Bachhan or the "Badshah of Bollywood" to endorse their products. So what if they wouldn't use those products themselves in their personal life. Huh! It's the moolah that matters, for either side. Ethics can take a backseat. The fact of the matter is liquor and cigarettes have a ban on them, as far as direct advertising goes. While cigarettes are known to have an adverse effect on one's health, liquor is considered to have a sociological impact too. Hence these two products come under the scanner like no other. To bypass the law, brands resort to what is called as SA. And that defeats the very purpose of banning advertisement of the aforesaid products. A clear case of using the loopholes in our legal system to bend its own arms to further their bizness. An illegal act that must be curbed. That's what the two kids were trying to educate me about.
Whether banning advertisement of such substances through the mass media actually leads to reduced consumption is another matter altogether. Just like writing "Cigarette/tobacco smoking is injurious to health" in big, bold letters on the pack doesn't deter one from lighting the fire. So much for statutory warnings! I'm not going to harp much upon this topic for now. That's something I'll leave for times  jab mil baithenge hum, tum aur Bagpiper(you know who that is?) over a cup, glass of.....and Khoob jamega rang, I promise.

All I wish to do is enlighten you(my mindful readers) about what's happening in and around us. Did you hear the Chhote Nawab saying "Its your life, make it large"? Next time you do, you'll know what exactly he means. And what that actor and the brand he is endorsing is doing when they say...Men will be men! Don't we all know that somehow? ;)  
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