Are you ‘Original’ or are you a ‘Copy’?

In every class in a school there are intelligent and not so intelligent students or one can classify them as hardworking and not so hardworking or may be the worldly- wise types who know when and where to put in the hard work. 

There is a vast majority which religiously does the homework daily and then there are other two types; one who just copy the homework of the hardworking types and then there are the more intelligent types who also copy the answers of the hardworking types but are sharp enough to change the way it is presented, making it look like original work. Well I have no intention of re-igniting the age- old debate as to who among the three types is actually intelligent. I am here to debate as to who among them is ‘original’.

Andre Gide

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Advertisement…..Spreading Awareness or Manipulating Opinion???

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Advertisements have proliferated our lives in a big way. Be it the daily Newspapers, the TV or the roadsides, all are flooded with advertisement campaigns, each company trying to do outdo the others. Huge budget is being spent by the business houses on advertisements with the sole aim of changing opinions. 

Life was so cool when there was no TV, no advertisement blitz to endure and the Newspapers actually carried NEWS with specific areas earmarked for the advertisements. Today, more than half of the Newspaper is occupied by advertisements or classifieds as some prefer to call them. In fact, the first thing which stares in your face as you open the morning Daily is a full-page advertisement of some brand. One got to literally search for NEWS in the maze of advertisements. 

We now live, not in a real but virtual world. Advertisement bring in hope and more often than not are the cause of despair when the aspirations are not met. With most of us too busy with our routine life and profession, having no time to go out, explore the markets and try things out physically our life is literally getting dependent on social media to such an extent that our habits, tastes, clothes, modes of entertainment, choices of schools, colleges get decided by advertisements. 

Manufacturers, business houses are in a sort of rat race to catch the attention of the customer. One product is launched and within no time the same company launches another advertisement claiming to launch an improved version of the previous product. Advertisements are not just restricted to glorifying the products but also softly aim at degrading the competitor. Which product is better, this decision, the companies should leave it to the wisdom of the consumer, they should only supply information. 

The main aim of the advertisements is to play with the psyche, to hit the mind of the target audience. They come out with catchy taglines like that of Raymond (The famous Indian dress material manufacturer) – The complete man (I have been a big fan of Raymond ever since) or Maggie Noodles- Mamma I am hungry (Every mom desperately wait to hear these magic words from their child). Mothers very well understand that Maggie Noodles cannot provide the nutrients required for the growth of the child but then they can’t let their child go hungry. Then the child is also armed by the information provided through the advertisement – every Maggie Noodle packet carries the nutrients equivalent to two pieces of home baked bread which is the normal diet of a child, and the argument ends in favour of the child. I, for one, never bothered about the nutrient content, I ate Maggie Noodles because I enjoyed the taste. Cosmetics have taken the advertisement war to an altogether different level with their claims of anti-ageing creams and turning the colour of skin from dark to fair in no time. 

Some advertisement campaigns do indulge in sexism and racism, manipulation and deceit, either inadvertently or intentionally. Women have to be part of most campaigns whether they use the product or not. 

Yes, advertisement do a whole lot of good to the society by not just spreading awareness of social causes and government schemes but also by making people, at large, aware of the options available and helping them compare before reaching a decision. However, one has to be careful and not believe everything being conveyed through advertisements on the face value. Various Regulating authorities set up by the government have to work proactively to ensure that the companies do not take the consumer for a ride by misleading advertisements. The onus should be on the companies including the advertisement agencies to ensure that there is no manipulation and stringent action be taken against defaulters. 

“Finally, it’s on the consumer to decide what he wants, to allow his opinion/ decision get manipulated by misleading advertisements or to be smart enough to read between the lines”