Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I’m the kind of person who watches ads on TV (and reads them in newspapers and magazines) with avid interest.

Recently, two ads for Cadbury’s Chocolates caught my interest, although for totally opposing reasons.

The TVC for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk showing a crowd of people on a railway station intently watching a nail-biting cricket match is really, really funny and bang-on observant:

It pokes fun at our cricket-obsession. Only a sari-clad woman in a tea-stall is unaffected by the match. All the others are glued to the TV, including the seller hawking Dairy Milk bars in a tray – he foolishly, if magnanimously, offers free bars if India wins.

India doesn’t, as happens so very often (in real life, that is). They lose in the very last ball to the unfancied Kenyans. Again, a wonderfully satiric take-off on the irresistible, if irritating, predilection of the Indian team to lose almost-won matches with monotonous regularity.

After the deflating defeat, the crestfallen crowd is cheered by a young boy, determined not to miss out on the free-chocolate offer. He asks the vendor to give the promised treat because “koi toh jeet gaya” (at least somebody has won). Accurate child psychology and karmic philosophy, that.

And finally the hilarious exit lines – the bewildered vendor, finding his chocolates disappearing at an alarmimg rate (Indians love freebies) amidst much cheering and shouting of “Kenya jeet gaya” (Kenya has won - Indians celebrate at any and every excuse), timidly asks “Yeh Kenya hai kidhar?” (Where is this Kenya?). And the self-satisfied, smug-ly ignorant average monkey-capped middleclass Indian (for whom Kenya is a name that rhymes with Babua and his ilk, common nicknames in INDIA) answers, “Idhar hi toh tha…gaya hoga kidhar” (He was here only…must have gone somewhere). Totally brilliantly ridiculously witty.

NOW, can anybody tell me how this same company can come up with the extremely INANE and sick-making ad about their Celebrations range of chocolates, where a precocious young boy offers his sister a box of gift-wrapped chocolates, saying it is a book. And the girl – the ASININE, BIRD-BRAINED TWIT – actually turns down her mouth in disappointment! How SILLY is that? I do realize that many young children do feel that books are useless, but does the ad (and the company, and the agency, and, by extension, the viewer) really have to endorse that view?

I felt so, so disappointed and disgusted, especially since my expectations were raised by the terrific Dairy Milk ad.


ugich konitari said...

Sucharita, That Kenya Cadbury Ad was really wonderful. I enjoyed it too.

I feel that way at the back of everything that decides how the ad should be, is what I call the "quick and fast return philosophy". Reading a book has a longer return period in terms of benefits. Cadbury's chocos have an instant benefit, state-of-mind-wise.... and never mind the calories .

Hence the quick thinking kid, and the "kenya idhar hi hogi", and the girl who grimaces on hearing that its a book. (Shame on you, Cadbury).

Is it surprising that the Cadbury's company is also looking at fast returns in sales terms...

Piscean Angel said...

Absolutely my feelings abt these two ads, tho' i didn't really make the connection abt both of them being from the same brand. But yeah, I smiled at the former & felt irritated with the latter too !!!

sidhubaba said...

I think many of us share your view about this ad. Advertisements are known to add vice. Truly disappointing from the company which had once approved the wonderfully emotional "Kuchh Baat Hain Zindegi Mein" campaign.

Mina Jade said...

You are right about that books. Books and literature are not properly appreciated nowadays, which deeply saddens me.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@UK, PA, Sidhubaba and Mina,

It's definitely gratifying to realise that I'm not just a voice in the wilderness. Thanks for sharing your views on this.

Mina Jade said...

There's nothing to say thank you for; it is just natural :-)
Besides, unfortunately, it is not that hard to notice that people don't respect books and authors nowadays. (Kertész Imre, Hungary's only Nobel Prize-winner author could tell a long story about that.)

Paul Bernard said...

I haven't seen these ads, so I can't fully judge them, but it seems harsh to praise one for its realistic representation of a cheeky young boy and then criticise another's realistic response of a dissapointed girl.
Besides, not many people have ever bought me a decent book...

lopamudra said...

I think bernard was right.Since you are a book lover it might have seemed blasphemous but again it was a realistic response.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@paul and lopa,

thanks for raising the valid point that the girl's depiction of disappointment is realistic. In fact, that realism itself is what scares me, because here in Mumbai, reading of books is (usually) regarded as a nerdy, unPROFITable, totally useless and uncool thing to do. I'm not debating the realism, I just feel that Cadbury could have used some other way of selling its stuff than by realistically depicting the erosion of the reading habit in children.

Jaquanda Rae said...

i missed reading your stuff m'dear. Quite interesting.

Mina Jade said...

I do agree Sucharita.
In Hungary, we are not that sincere, we keep on saying that books and knowledge are important and all... while our only Nobel Prize winner author Kertész Imre lived in poverty here in Hungary, he had to move to Germany, where his books were best sellers and he was nominated for Nobel Prize which he won.
When he won the prize, Hungarian people got to learn his name, at the age of 73 (!).

I do hope it is different in the western part of the world.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi @ Jaquanda,

Great to hear from you again.

@ Mina,

Now that's a truly interesting ironical news which I just learnt from you. Thanks. Our country also sometimes lionises and sometimes neglects its Nobel Prize Winners.