The only benefit of ad agencies coming up with annoying stuff is that they have put you off the idiot box for good.

It seems that every time I switch on the television, there is an instant bombardment of uninspiring commercials featuring good looking versions of the salesmen you slam the door on if they show up on your doorstep, making their assorted sales pitches with increasing degrees of inanity. These mannequins who have been dieted, massaged and lipo-suctioned to within an inch of their lives are squeezed into overpriced designer ensembles and made to point out why you suck and they don't. Adding insult to injury, you are informed that the difference is simply because you don't use their brand of deo/fairness cream/anti-dandruff shampoo.

One actor is always confident not because she is a successful actor who managed to make an impact on the southern cinema as well as Bollywood but simply because she has found a way to armour herself against that greatest among all evils — body odour. Another feels entitled to her sense of self-entitlement because she uses the perfect anti-dandruff shampoo. Yet another wants us to believe that the healthy biscuit she snacks on onscreen (and probably spits out delicately off-screen) is the secret behind her toned, fat-free frame that got her a ticket to the good life.

And what is it with this nation's obsession with fairness? Earlier, it was sufficient if you had a fair face (courtesy industrial-strength bleaching creams and umpteen sessions at the salon) but that is no longer sufficient because dark underarms will prevent you from taking a grand slam or becoming one of life's winners. So now the emphasis is on perfect fairness from head to toe, including the colour of your bottom which even you are highly unlikely to have laid eyes on.

It makes you think fondly of a bygone era when Draupadi was the loveliest of them all, and her dusky complexion was compared to a blue lotus. And unlike what happens on commercials where only fair girls bag the groom, land the job and what have you, this black beauty had five accomplished husbands! The inordinate importance attached to goop in tubes guaranteed to make you instantly fair but is far more likely to give you a virulent case of acne (for which, of course, there are more magic products) just stinks!

Speaking of bad smells, there have been a slew of deodorant commercials that have tried to sell the notion that they have unearthed the secret to make women drop their underpants and dignity in a flash when they get a whiff of certain noxious, patented odours. And given the number of women I have heard complaining about the assault their nostrils are subjected to when they arrive at parties only to find a horde of hormonal males who seemed to have bathed in the damn stuff, it seems the ad companies responsible for perpetrating this horror have only been too successful.

As Diwali inched closer, there were more ads than ever. Every store worth its salt had to make a bid to lure you through its portals hoping to relieve you of your hard-earned Diwali bonus by making commercials showing actresses and models dancing around with simulated gay abandon in heavily embroidered saris or brandishing cookers. Besides new clothes and cookery, life is simply not worth living without oils that give you celeb hair, handbags guaranteed to make you the ‘it' girl, cellphones, laptops, and other gadgets that keep you connected to the world of the living, tooth paste that makes you kissable, chocolates that can help you celebrate life in addition to saving you a trip to the dentist since it is purportedly sugar-free and timepieces that will help you get a move on.

How much more of this can our retinas take? When was the last time a decent ad was aired on TV, I cribbed to friends and I was told about a jewellery ad that had a girl refusing marriage and then agreeing to see the guy her parents lined up for her after a visit to a store with an awesome collection of bridal jewellery. It is the sort of stuff dream marriages are made of, I am sure.

Of course, the only benefit of the ad agencies coming up with increasingly annoying stuff is that they have put you off the idiot box for good. Unfortunately, the serials and the other ‘educational' stuff on TV keep luring you back.

(The writer's email id is: anuja_chandramouli @yahoo. co.in)

Keywords: TV ads

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