Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Axe the Effect

Sex sells. Or so the Axe Effect advertisements have proved. Drawing their ‘target group’ of 18 to 24 year olds in with advertisements filled with sexual innuendos, these advertisements assure seduction. Axe has become the top selling male deodorant body spray probably because the advertisements stimulate the desired response. The response merely being the purchasing power of the consumer. But at what cost? Rather, at whose cost?

Here is the latest revelation – a postcard that one can find in the Cards4U section, placed in almost all coffee shops in the city. These cards are not for sale and are available free. An offence of sorts for some. A sizzler for many.
The postcard
Visual: Bust shot of a girl smiling – the ‘naughty’ librarian. She has been tagged with the label – ‘MOLESTED’ written in bright red across her chest.
A bold disclaimer that states: Any information regarding this matter contact www.axeeffect.com.

HUNDREDS OF MEN with a feather duster, a library stamp and a pot of honey. Considered HOT and DANGEROUS. If you SEE this DIRTY LIBRARIAN call the AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY.
Reward’ offered for the information leading to the arrest and conviction of this good girl turned naughty and the girl crime wave sweeping the city. Axe users are cautioned to approach suspects with extreme care.
The key words are in bold. Read them aloud and think for yourself. Another one in the series reads:

Visual: A bust shot of a schoolgirl in two braids with a stamp “ABDUCTED” against her chest. The same disclaimer follows.

Schoolgirl ABDUCTED three men covered them in whipped cream and spanked them silly in the locker room. Still at large, Victims are breathless, but otherwise unharmed.
For those who aren’t tickled yet – check out www.axefeather.com.
According to the Oxford dictionary, to Molest means to meddle hostilely or injuriously with a person. It originates from the word molestus, which means troublesome. The usage of the word in context of the advertisement, backed by the visual and the base line is obviously suggestive and ensures that the reader is thinking on the same track.
This is not the first such ad. People who wear Axe are shown being attacked by multiple women. In mid-2004, an advertisement featured two frogs engaging in sexual intercourse. The ad also featured a man and a woman about to engage in the same. This advertisement has been revoked. In early 2006, Axe began marketing a body wash via a fictitious cult that helps men cleanse their bodies and conscience from questionable casual sexual encounters. Axe Snake Peel is described as the “Sanctioned shower scrub of The Order of The Serpentine”. One of the slogans for this campaign is “How Dirty Boys Get Clean.” Another ad shows an empty shower with a sign that reads, “Occupancy by more than five persons is dangerous and unlawful.” Another of Axe’s tag lines reads: “It can happen anywhere. The Axe Effect.” The visuals that accompany this consist of a woman’s bare back imprinted with the shape of a hanger or an elevator key pad or a steering wheel or anything else she might have been smashed up against during spontaneous snuggling, canoodling or going-all-the-way.
Sex surely sells at this rate. With so many ‘successful’ campaigns, Axe surely has hit the nail on the head. On another level, what does it have to do with the deodorant? This type of sexualized advertising fuels lustful fantasies among young men and almost sounds like it promotes deviant sexual behavior. By instructing men to regard women’s bodies as objects, these ubiquitous images help create an atmosphere that devalues women as people, reinforce stereotypes of women as objects of sexual gratification, encourage sexual harassment, and worse. These commercials promote social sculpting through the degradation of women. The Axe marketing honchos tell the media it is all tongue-in-cheek, not serious, girls are in the joke, etc. We all know that is not true. If it were, it would indicate the birth of a depraved society that can find such a blatant insult to womanhood a laughing matter. That in itself is a cause for concern.
Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code authorizes a punishment of simple imprisonment for a term that may extend to one year, or with fine, or both, for anyone uttering a word, or performing a gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman. The Axe ads quite explicitly do both. Yet, no action has been taken. Instead, these ads have come in for public acclaim world over, and have been termed adventurous and unconventional.
The laws are written. They are merely just waiting to be implemented. It really is about the society being the hammer or the nail.
[Written with Ekta, without whose infectious enthusiasm, this campaign would never have taken off]

Monday, March 26, 2007

If there was an earthquake, and your house was collapsing, and you had to leave, and were allowed to take just 3 things with you, what would they be?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

“Bought your girlfriend flowers although you know she’s allergic to them? Can’t think of anything except chocolates even though she’s on a diet? Log onto blah blah blah dot com and get innovative ideas for a Valentine’s day gift!”

When The Beatles sang "Money Can't Buy Me Love", they had no clue about Hallmark moments that would set the template and price for emotions. Since Esther Howland, the woman who produced the first commercial American valentines in the 1840s, sold a then mind-boggling $5,000 in cards during her first year of business, the valentine industry has been booming. People now believe that Valentine's Day announces your place in life, declares your popularity publicly and assesses your worth, and, from being a bonanza only for card companies, this “occasion” has blossomed into a day of immense profit for entrepreneurs in all fields, ranging from estate agents (“This Valentine’s day, gift her something she’ll treasure forever. Gift her a Mantri home”) to diamond merchants (“A diamond is forever”) to horticulturists (“Today’s headlines– 50 million rose buds exported to foreign shores for Valentine’s Day”) to the music industry (“Top ten romantic albums – only Rs.1999”) to tour operators (“The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift - A Tour of the Seven Wonders”) to fitness clubs (“This Valentine’s Day, lose that extra weight, and make him fall in love with you all over again”) to mobile network operators (“Romantic wallpapers, pictures and caller tunes. For more details, visit Hutchworld”) to the ever popular Worldspace (“Make every day Valentine’s Day. Gift your lover a Worldspace today” to your neighbourhood supermarket (“Offers to fall in love with this Valentine’s Day”) to websites packed with information on do's and don'ts for Valentine's Day.

In this rat race to outdo each other in buying the “perfect” gift, the reason behind the existence of this day has been conveniently forgotten.

* Fade into flashback mode *

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues, and had determined that married men made poor soldiers. So he banned marriage from his empire. But Valentine would secretly marry young men that came to him. When Claudius found out about Valentine, he first tried to convert him to paganism. But Valentine reversed the strategy, trying instead to convert Claudius. When he failed, he was stoned and beheaded.
During the days that Valentine was imprisoned, he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. His love for her, and his great faith, managed to miraculously heal her from her blindness before his death. Before he was taken to his death, he signed a farewell message to her, "From your Valentine." The phrase has been used on his day ever since.

* Fade back into today *

Love. THAT’S what its all about. Not cheap tawdry commercialisation of overblown sentimentality commemorated by the purchase of half wilted flowers and tacky cards.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I regret deleting my old blog. Somehow, the people there were different. They actually cared. Even if they didn't, they pretended to. And that's what made the blog tick, made me feel like writing. There's nobody here who cares. I wonder why.

The comment made by my esteemed co author on the previous post has made me curious - what DO the people who visit this blog care about?

You don't care for reviews, ergo you aren't interested in sampling varied books or movies, social, developmental or civic issues are an apparent no no, you don't care about plays or other such so called "yo" activities, you don't see beyond your own selfish needs and means, and beyond your secluded localities, so any talk of anything away from these is not acceptable, so what do you care about?

Tell me. I'd like to know.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Open subject of discussion.

Do you think that in their haste to establish a democracy in Iraq, the US has made an erroneous decision in having Saddam executed, and has instead elevated him to the status of a martyr to his cause?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Calvin: What's it like to fall in love?

Hobbes: Well... Say the object of your affection walks by...

Calvin: Yeah?

Hobbes: First, your heart falls into your stomach and splashes your innards. All the moisture makes you sweat profusely. This condensation shorts the circuits to your brain, and you get all woozy. When your brain burns out altogether, your mouth disengages and you babble like a cretin until she leaves.

Calvin: That's love?!?

Hobbes: Medically speaking.

Calvin: Heck, that happened to me once, but I figured it was cooties!

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, p57

Monday, December 18, 2006


Manu Sharma convicted.

Two down, a little more than a million to go.

P.S. This has nothing to do with the above post, but I still need to say it. A special thank you to someone who took the trouble to restore something that means a lot to me, and that I thought I'd lost forever. I owe you.

Edit: I wonder how Shayan Munshi sleeps, knowing that, by retracting his evidence when it was most needed, he let a murderer walk away unscathed.