Does the BlackBerry girl convince you?

Published: September 6, 2011
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Most ads tend to promote lifestyles rather than products PHOTO: AFP

Turn on the TV, a commercial plays and a woman in her late twenties sits in a perfect posture on her perfect couch in her perfect home (read: extravagant) and talks on her phone.

Her cream coloured dress matches perfectly with the cream-coloured walls and the sofa set.

She walks outside and sits by her mega-sized swimming pool in her colossal backyard. As she turns off her phone, she tells you about the cheaper call rates, part of a wonderful new package introduced by some telecom company. Is this commercial for the public? No.

The advertisement is stupid for two reasons; one, the filthy-rich lifestyle portrayed in the commercial does not represent more than 10% of our population. Second, the woman sitting by her swimming pool holding her BlackBerry would be least affected by the call packages. Thus, the sheer relief on her face is definitely not convincing. How much difference could a few rupees make to her life? Would it not make more sense if a middle-class woman, living in an average house, using an average cell phone would be telling you the benefits of this new package?

Be it oil companies or milk brands, television commercials project lavish houses and cars- extravagance that the general public cannot afford or relate to. No stone is left unturned in glorifying materialism. Why? Because this is a candy floss world. Just like a child runs after candy, these commercials tempt people to run after material gains. Commercials portray life to be such that no one can be happy unless they live the life shown on the idiot box.

We have seen countless commercials in the last two decades, but there is one that has been playing since the 1990’s conveying more or less the same message over the past 20 years. This advertisement is racist and appalling to see in this day and age. I’m talking, of course, about commercials on fairness creams. For years, these commercials have been projecting fair skin as the epitome of beauty. The fairness cream advertisements fool people into believing that they can get whatever they desire, most importantly, a hunk of a spouse, if they become “fairer”. In turn, not only does this increase the sense of inferiority in people, but they acquire superficial attitudes and begin to link beauty with mere fairness.

There is one thing common between the advertisements for fairness creams and the projection of a lavish lifestyle –  they both leave behind a dissonant feeling of wanting to be  something different from whom and what we are now. It’s really not just about publicising a product.

Zoya Nazir

Zoya Nazir

The writer is a first year A levels student. She was an exchange student in America from 2010-2011, and did her O levels from The City School Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.