The ad under fire these days is that of Telenor internet more. In case you have no knowledge of the ad, please click on the following two links.
Before you start foaming at the mouth with rage and seething with anger or blushing with embarrassment (especially if your name is Faiza or Talha or Hassan) take a deep breath and evaluate the ad from a truly branding perspective.
The ad, you must admit, is quirky, especially the raspy voice-over. Sharp images, decent models and a crisp script make this a fun ad to watch. It's targeting the young people (generally) as they spend most of their time on the internet, surfing or chatting. User imagery is perfect - all students, from ages 12-22 can relate to the situation in the ad. The one thing I find objectionable in the ad is that both the ads revolve around the stories of two boys. Don't girls use internet too?!
Now this ad has created a lot of furore, or so it seems from an article a student of mine sent across the other day. So I sat up and took a careful notice of the ad again (I've viewed it so many times already on television!) in order to find the objectionable stuff in it. Following is what might be considered 'objectionable' in these two ads:
1. Gender stereotype - girl in library, with hair flying like a film star. Are we teaching girls to pay attention to their looks more than their studies?
2. Teaching kids (and adults) how to track people on Facebook.
3. Our youngsters are being taught immoral acts (making friends with the opposite gender).
1. How can someone have such a casual attitude towards sending a job CV? Are we teaching our kids to become irresponsible and careless?
2. OMG! A dirty message in the inbox! We are encouraging porn!
Yes, I believe these are the only objections I could find in the ads.
Now for some serious ad analysis. Advertising, besides conveying the product message to the consumer, is also a reflection of consumer lifestyle at a certain point in time. Simply put, ads reflect the trends and lifestyles (activities, hobbies, pastime etc) of consumers (and this is not limited to ads only. It also applies to movies, music, drama, theater etc). The young generation (ages 12-22) is very tech-savvy and also heavy users of text messaging and chat services. By providing internet on their mobile phones, Telenor is cashing on this very lifestyle feature of the new generation.
That's all okay, you say, but the ads are inappropriate! I disagree. If you think the ads are inappropriate, you are using the ostrich approach. These ads are not teaching the youngsters anything they didn't know already. All of them use Facebook and trust me, they don't go on it to check the pictures posted by you dear old Aunt who now lives with her son in some remote corner in America. Nor do they do it so that you can post pictures of your grandson's birthday party for that same dear old Aunt. Facebook is a medium to make new friends, connect with old ones (which might include old flames) and check out the 'pictures' of friends' friends' friend. Get it? People didn't stop studying when Pink Floyd released, 'We don't need no education' (all those adults objecting to these ads were probably in their teens when the song came out).
Yes, there is a gender stereotype. I would, too, like to see an ad in which the story revolves around a girl and her friends. Dressing up is one of the fun things about being a girl and there are girls in colleges and universities who do come all dressed up (we had a few in univ also. The majority belongs to the 'wake-up-wash-face-go-to-college category). Anything objectionable in being dolled up? Yes and no. As long as they are not distracting (both in an attractive and annoying way), its all cool.
As far as destroying the morals of our youth by showing mindless activities like surfing all day on internet or opening dirty mails is concerned, are the youngsters of our country so gullible that they'll forget their morals, customs, traditions, teachings and all, just because of an advertisement?!
Think about it.