Monday 7 September 2009

"I Hate Ugly"

Quite an emphatic statement! This is the latest advertisement promoting Allen Solly casual wear. This print ad is that of a girl who is shown with a paint brush in hand and the backdrop is that of a wall that is worn out with time and weather. The words I HATE UGLY are painted in bold on the wall. At the bottom of the page is the sideline which says: "Who says I have to like things the way they are? What doesn't look good to me, I change." Then the words MY WORLD. MY WAY. ALLEN SOLLY are printed in the extreme right side of the ad.

The ad left me reflecting on the increasing thrust on individualism and identity in today's media. Ads which promote the self are packaged in a very sophisticated manner by the ad man and fed to the hungry masses in dollops. The ad would not have ruffled me if it only said: "Who says I have to like things the way they are? What doesn't look good to me, I change" but then the strong words I HATE UGLY reflects a very narrow perspective of thought process which modifies the beautiful and nicer things to be the best and most sought after. I can understand when we close our noses or stop breathing while passing by a dust-bin overflowing with an assortment of stuff or at the most avoid passing through ways that have open drains. But then, isn't that a reality too? The words I HATE UGLY spell out a certain disdain on one aspect of life and its reality while shamelessly glorifying the need the satisfy one's own self.

Many advertisements justify feeding the self and its whimsical demands. That we need to cater to ourselves first and then the world has become a growing norm. Creams promoting beautiful skin which attracts the opposite gender, kitchen appliances which again raise the self-esteem are among few of the dozen examples. Thankfully there still exists some ads where values and respect for the self as well as the others are projected.

I just wish that the ad men realise what statements as I HATE UGLY spell out to the growing generation that drinks out of the heavy udders of the media world.


  1. the words MY WORLD. MY WAY.MY TAILOR.
    sounds more logical than the words MY WORLD. MY WAY. ALLEN SOLLY .
    If we say that the poetic devise of parallelism is used then the word Allen and My are same. in that case my place is usurped by the company Allen. so the companies or corporates in the guise of promoting individualism as u have said its actually making no say for individual or in other words makes the individual surrender themselves.

  2. Look at it like this my friends, if ad-agencies started becoming egalitarian, they would be out of business. The very soul, the essence, of any advertisement is individualistic vis-a vis the brand. They simply project the individualism of the brand on the potential consumer and try and make him/her feel special. Consider all the deo ads. ALL of them (barring Dove) are aimed at attracting the opposite gender. Then dove goes a step ahead and says - "you know what guys, the deos you have using all these years leave your skin dry. NOW, NOW, NOW - watch how this rose petal just glides down the armpit.......
    Not all ads aim at making people feel special. The ads of Unwanted 72 and I-pill work on making them feel miserable and sorry instead. But the basic idea is the same, to invite the viewer to relate to what's being shown on the screen.

  3. I too agree with you in what you have said "That we need to cater to ourselves first and then the world has become a growing norm.......shamelessly glorifying the need the satisfy one's own self"

    This is a sign of copy cats blindly aping the West. I too have registered my concern at my blog Ad World around us

  4. Samuel: First, thanks for stopping by. Second, the first one sounds more sensible. I totally agree with the comment.
    P.S: Why does your blog not open? Does it have a request or something?

    Pushkaraj: Its been a while since you commented. I always look forward to your comments. I am not asking for ad-agencies to become egalitarian but atleast they can stop promoting the strong individuality that borders arrogance. Something like the characters in Ayn Rand's novels. I can give examples of many ads that don't do that.

    Kabeer: Thanks for stumbling at the blog and stopping to write a comment. As you have pointed out, the projection of the 'self' is a very Western idea. We people from the East are more for communal sort of a relationship. Together yet having a self identity. I don't want to sound parochial but then I think this is what has been happening down the ages - the visible difference b/w the East and the West but now globalisation has changed it all - a homogenised culture is slowly taking shape. This is both good and bad.



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