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Advertising mistakes

February 2, 2009

All of us have a pet peeve against some advertisement or the other and we wonder how such ads are even allowed to be aired or printed! Well, some people do complain, and as a result advertisers are forced to remove their ads or modify them. The ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) receives complaints and acts on them. The number or complaints in India are far fewer that in developed counties, but some good work is being done in this area in India too.

If you ever wondered why some ads or television commercials simply disappeared or changed, well, it’s because some enterprising soul complained. Here is a small list of some of the ads which came under the chopping block last year (January to September 2008).  I have categorised the complaints under the headings of 1) unsubstantiated ads, 2) ads which lie, 3) ads which mislead, 4) ads which offend the sensibilities of people and 5) ads which can be dangerous.  Here they are:

Unsubstantiated claims (Claims need to be substantiated by trials from independent and recognized institutions)

  • The Dettol Soap TV commercial (TVC) had said that their product “eliminates the organisms [of cough and cold] ten times faster than other soaps” and that it also eliminates “organisms that cause gastrointestinal diseases”. Neither of these claims could be substantiated by the company and they were forced to modify their ad.
  • The VLCC Shape Up Anti-Cellulite Oil and Gel made the unsubstantiated claim that “It reduces flab and firms skin. Beautiful arms and Legs in just 14 days.” By the time the ASCI demanded that the ad be withdrawn, the ad campaign had already concluded (July 2008)!
  • Olay’s (Procter & Gamble) Total Effects Cream, which claimed to be India’s “best Anti-Ageing cream” in a TVC had to be withdrawn as the company could not substantiate its claim.
  • The Ponds Flawless White TVC had claimed that “only the Ponds Flawless White cream can make your skin flawless in 7 days of usage.” This had to be withdrawn due to similar reasons.
  • The Garnier Light Fairness and Dark Spots Prevention daily moisturizer commercial claimed that anyone using the product can get “2 times fairer in just 7 days.” The ASCI concluded that this was impossible, and the commercial had to be modified, even though there was a qualification in the ad that “individual results may vary.”
  • Henkel’s Mr. White detergent had claimed that it was better than other detergents but could not produce any evidence of it, and the ad had to be modified.
  • Haier ACs had a print ad which claimed that their AC’s provided “51% power savings”, along with other product claims, but the ASCI asked them to modify the ad as their claims were thought to be incorrect.

When it comes to unsubstantiated claims, cosmetic ads seem to be the worst!

Wild claims bordering on sheer lies.

  • In an ad for Hyundai Verna which appeared on the company’s website, it was claimed that the car’s diesel variant “CRDI VGT” had a fuel economy of 32.8Kmpl! This wild claim could not be substantiated and in fact a customer claimed that he had not got more than 11 kmpl! This ad had to be discontinued.
  • A print ad for Nai Dunia claimed that it was the “No.1 in Indore City” and the source mentioned was an unnamed “Private Survey.” But when in truth, the IRS (Indian Readership Survey) and the NRS (National Readership Survey) both showed that it was the Dainik Bhasker which was far ahead of NaiDunia. The ad had to be modified by the advertiser.
  • Sanjeevan Retinopathy Clinic actually advertised that their “treatment” cures blindness, besides other things. The advertiser had to modify the advertisement.
  • Another much publicized case was that of Tata Sky. They claimed that it was now offering its supersaver pack at Rs 200/- instead of Rs 300/- This was found to be an outright lie as the new, cheaper, package came without some premium channels! So all that the company was actually doing was offering a cheaper option. The company had to withdraw their TVC.

Deliberately confusing and misleading!

  • Alapatt Jewellers which was advertising its 16 Gold & Certified Diamonds in a print ad, stated that “916 Purity should be there not only in the advertisement but also in the gold ornament”. This was considered to be vague and confusing and the advertiser had to withdraw this line. Their other claims that “Without hall marking there is no purity and will not get good price when exchanged” was considered misleading as 916 hallmarked gold is sold by almost all jewellers! And in any case, the exchange price is at the discretion of the jeweller and also depends on the market price.
  • A TVC by Tata Teleservices showed film star Kajol helping three girls to connect to the internet by plugging in her own USB modem into their laptop and this gave the impression that this modem could connect to the internet anywhere. But the false impression given was that this modem was a “plug and play device” which it was not. There is an “installation procedure” which needed to be followed. The company was forced to withdraw this ad.
  • The TVC of Gilette Victor Plus Blade was so misleading as to border on a total lie. It said that the blade lasted for 3 weeks but the fine print (which appeared too briefly on the screen to be read) said that “on the basis on one shave every 3 days.” ! This TVC had to be withdrawn.

Ads offending the sensibilities of people

  • The Sisley Fall Winter Collection promotional e-mailer was found to be offensive by some. The headline said: – “You’ll melt once inside” and this was accompanied by a picture of a woman in a seductive pose. This, a complainant said, was nothing but pornography. The advertiser had to withdraw this mailer.
  • A television ad of the ING Vysya Life Insurance showed the father of a young girl distressed at the cost of the higher education of his daughter. Visually this was shown by the ground breaking beneath him! In another scene, a father was shown to be distressed by the birth of a baby girl because of the financial cost involved…and again the ground was shown to be breaking underneath him. This ad was considered anti-women…but even though the ad was asked to be withdrawn, by that time the ad campaign had already ended, in February 2008.
  • Parle Agro had a TV ad for Mintrox Mint in which mentally challenged people were shown in a bad light and this television commercial had to be withdrawn by the company.
  • I guess most of us remember the AXE deodorant (Dark Temptation) TVC which showed a man covered with chocolate being licked and bitten by girls. This ad had to be modified. Several complaints were received against this commercial.

Dangerous ads

  • Godrej’s television commercial showed a person happily inhaling the fumes of Good Knight Maha Jumbo Mosquito Coil! This ad was considered harmful for public health as these fumes contain insecticide. This TVC was withdrawn.
  • There were some TV commercials which came under fire for showing dangerous driving, with warnings too fine to be noticed by consumers. One was for Thums Up, one for Kentucky Fried Chicken and one for Bajaj Pulsar. All these TVC’s had to be modified by the advertisers.

Just want to mention a really strange ad which I couldn’t put into any category. The print ad for Dabur’s SaniFresh Thick Toilet Cleaner had this headline: “Thick. The secret of my shiny, silky hair” and it was accompanied by a picture of a woman with long silky hair! Not surprisingly someone complained that this ad seemed more like an ad for a shampoo and that some vulnerable person might actually think it is an ad for a shampoo and wash her hair with Sanifresh! The ad had to be withdrawn.

I have not mentioned all of the complaints made to the ASCI (some were not upheld and this list is not available) or even all of the complaints which were upheld.

Overall though there is a dire need for more complaints from ordinary citizens. Often it is rival companies or consumer groups which file a complaint but individuals can also do it. The procedure is a simple one and the identity of the complainant is not revealed to the advertiser.

(First photo is from and the second is copyrighted to me)

Related Reading: The lure of fake food
Is the Beauty Care Industry a fraud?
The beauty you see in glossy magazine and on screen is all fake
Children demand advertised products on Television
You can hate advertising but you need it!
Tips to avoid being cheated while shopping

The advantages and disadvantages of advertising on-line

Read all posts on Advertising
Read all posts on Consumers.

94 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2009 9:47 am

    Heyy I am going to write my next post about an ad only which I find so wrong! Now I have got a wonderful post to link in my post 🙂
    All these ad makers announce such things like fair in 7 days or super saver pack in 200 with a * mark and write below “terms and conditions apply” 😀

    Also I think that “ye to bada toing hai” ad needs to be banned!

    • January 15, 2010 10:51 am

      Hi Reema,
      you are absolutely right you must take some action against that advertisement.
      i am always with you reply me

  2. February 2, 2009 10:35 am

    Good collection.

    But just taking them off air or modifying shouldn’t be enough, as damage is already done due to telecast of the ad till it is banned. Such companies must be made to issue a public apology for airing misleading ads…

  3. February 2, 2009 10:39 am

    Interesting 🙂

    Today i guess,most of us are some what aware of the ‘glittering gold’ attitude about ads..But i must say that in many cases,i fall victim of sweet ads 😉

  4. February 2, 2009 10:56 am

    Another sexist ad found on a billboard near Mumbai —
    Air India says “If you fly with us, your wife flies free”

    They probably forget that some of their customers dont have wives – they have husbands !

    Found through

  5. February 2, 2009 10:57 am

    I think the video of AXE ad is available somewhere on youtube (for curious readers 😀 )

    Don’t you think people now laugh at claims made in shampoo and fairness cream ads? I certainly do. 😀

    Toing wala ad to ekdam sahi hai…. I don’t think it should be banned. I never found anything wrong in it 😛 Depends on what you fill in the place of “toing” 😛 …. dirty minds… control!!!!

  6. February 2, 2009 10:59 am

    Forgot to say…. “Hi Nita (mavshi)” 🙂 😉

  7. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 11:30 am


    I found this one of the most valuable posts to appear on this blog since quite a few weeks. It is the sort of thing based on which one can take action. Thanks particularly for the link to the ASCI form. I intend to make maximum use of it.

    Don’t we have, in India, something along the lines of the UK’s Trade Descriptions Act, 1968? It is not enough to get an offending ad withdrawn. Since it is done with the deliberate intention to mislead and defraud, there should be stiff penalties which will seriously hurt the smartass ad agencies and the advertisers making misleading and fraudulent claims.

    Also, is there an authority to which one can appeal against the frequency and duration of commercial breaks on the broadcast media, especially when these interrupt a programme?

  8. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 11:36 am

    @ VivekM:

    While I agree with you, in the present atmosphere of moral policing, it’s better than “companion” –which lends itself to a variety of interpretations that would send our sanskriti-rakshaks on the rampage. 🙂

  9. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 11:38 am

    @ Nita:

    You are too kind to call such ads “mistakes”. They are positively malafide.

  10. February 2, 2009 12:06 pm

    Thanks for a insightful as well as entertaining post. Links to complain will come handy!

  11. Chirag permalink
    February 2, 2009 12:06 pm

    Nita, All marketers are Liars 😉 , its a book written by another marketers.

  12. February 2, 2009 1:34 pm

    Excellent post! Had me riveted till the end. I wonder how many people know about ASCI, and more so the fact that any individual can submit a complaint form. Wonderful that you’ve given the link.

    Also, as Vivek mentions, the ads that have already done the damage need to make repairs. Apology is one thing, but the message that the product should not be used the way it was advertised needs to get across.

    I intend to send the link to this post in an email to all my friends. I’ve never done that with a blog post before. Looking forward to more such posts.


  13. February 2, 2009 1:44 pm

    you forgot to add “terms and conditions apply ” at the end of your post 😛

  14. February 2, 2009 2:09 pm

    @ Nita : He he he he. Funny. I love watching classic commercials from the 30’s and the 40’s. You should see the things that get advertised and how they get advertised. Lovely! Today’s ad’s are just too ‘correct’ and politically sensitive.

  15. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 2:38 pm


    You are talking about a period long before most of us were born. I believe “commercials” in those days comprised only ads in the print media, which one could easily skip and continue reading without annoying and compulsory interruptions. In the broadcast media they are intrusive in an aggressively and obnoxiously rude way, and their perpetrators must be violently punished. Since there’s no law against such interruptions per se, the only way of seeking revenge is to get them by the b*lls for the slightest diversion from the straight and narrow.

  16. February 2, 2009 2:49 pm

    Your post is in nick of time. Otehr day I was discussing with my colleagues about a recent Horlicks ad where they mention Complan. My colleagues were surprised that ad was not banned yet. I told them unless what they state is fact, non one can ban the act. I will pass on link tot his article to my friends and coleagues.

    Also, thanks for providing the link to cmplain abotu advertisements, I will make use of it. But it would be interesting to know how soon and how many complaints does ASCI act on?

  17. February 2, 2009 2:50 pm

    Good insight into what i never knew about.. If filing a complaint is free, U r going to see a lot of TataSky ad’s in there..


  18. February 2, 2009 3:36 pm

    There was a recent ad on ‘Polio Immunization program’ from the central govt on major newspapers. It read ‘No parents would want their children to be like this’ Followed by photographs of 2 polio affected children.

    That would be like insulting the children on the photographs. That was a sad caption. I am not sure why they put their photographs in the first place.

  19. February 2, 2009 4:11 pm

    Nita I wish we had similar standards for TV serials which are equally harmful!

  20. ruSh.Me permalink
    February 2, 2009 5:42 pm

    I am in advertising.. and I would say advertising is meant to show you a side which you might overlook… 😀

    The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people.

    I don’t approve of all ads.. But I like campaigns for Amul, Jaago re, and a US campaign DONTVOTE.. May be this was the reason, Barack Obama won!!

  21. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 5:46 pm

    Here’s a site worth looking at — very US-centred, but a class of Indians which considers that an aspirational model should not mind 😉

  22. February 2, 2009 6:06 pm

    I always look at Garnier Fructis Long & Strong shampoo and wonder, will my hair really be able to bull that steel bar fixed by concrete???

    I never knew about ASCI till this post!

  23. rags permalink
    February 2, 2009 6:20 pm

    I like this post! Will the ASCI accept complaints about fairness creams some of which are downright racist? In a country like India which has a majority of dark skinned population these ads serve to reinforce prejudices and prey on insecurities. Also I’d like to know from other commenters if they too feel fairness cream ads are racist…

  24. February 2, 2009 6:39 pm

    These are not inadvertent mistakes and as Vivek rightly points out – they are with malafide intentions.

    Tampering of products (widening the diameter of the tooth paste tube outlet), reducing quantities and maintaining prices, outrageous claims are part of the Great Indian Marketing Swindle game.

    Almost every day we have skin fairness creams and lotions being advertised and astounding results claimed. I guess this will only worsen with severe competition and immense pressure to perform.

    Anyway, if one is not caught then the campaigns can go on and they might still gain additional sales.

  25. locutus83 permalink
    February 2, 2009 7:16 pm

    I agree with rags. Fairness cream ads are racist and offensive, and only help in maintaining and increasing the fairness fixation that Indians have.

    I was utterly gobsmacked when they started to get out fairness cream ads for men!!

    Firstly, it is medically impossible (unless you have artificial plastic surgery a la Michael Jackson) to biologically change the colour of your skin overnight or even over a year. Everybody is born with a genetically coded skin tone – one can’t get fairer, but one can get darker with exposure to the sun. So you can somewhat prevent extra tanning by avoiding sun rays as far as possible.
    Yes, one can paint or apply zinc oxides, creams and powders to appear fair (coat the skin). But that does not change the characterstics of the skin cells.

    Secondly, it’s absolutely ridiculous to suggest that media and airlines recruiters hire on the basis of skin fairness. I think most Corporations mention attractive personality with CLEAR SKIN and PRETTY FACE, not FAIR SKIN. I have seen some pretty and atrractive air-hostesses while traveling domestic Indian flights who were quite dusky.

    However, the sad part is that for marital alliances in India (that’s why I hate the PROCESS of arranged marriage in India – the prospective bride and grooms are paraded and compared as commodities in a market, which is inhuman in my view), fair skin is still considered an extremely desirable feature for a girl.

    On the other hand, the fairness cream manufacturers would say that they only make money milking the fixation and insecurities that Indians have about fairness, and there is no legal provision preventing them to do so. Whether they should be allowed to do that is the question.

    As for advertisements and me, I hardly go by advertisement claims when I have to buy stuff. I have my personal flavours, smells, numbers, parameters, checks and tried and tested favourites, which may or may not be popular in the ad world.
    I also sometimes go by popular established choice and technical reviews.(** I think there should be more independent product and service rating agencies which should carry out thorough scientific checks, comparisons and public surveys and publish results periodically in “product journal”, regarding the products that enter the consumer market, which should be made widely available to the consumer. For example, a soap review journal could make a chart comparing the pH levels, aroma strengths, cleansing power and vitamin/cream contents of different Soap brands that enter the market **)

    I watch most ads on T.V. to see how absurd one can get. But occasionally you may get some very touching, funny and well-produced ads (not talking about the product, but the way the ad is presented)
    For example recently there was an ad about two girls in a small town who break their piggy bank and get an antique coin; they want to buy ice-cream but the ice-cream seller doesn’t accept the coin; and then comes the boy who pawns it at the antique shop, gets decent money in return and gives them ice-cream. That was a cute ad, but I did not bother to remember the product or service it was aired for. (Hence that ad failed in its final goal- for me at least :-))

  26. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 8:37 pm


    Your arguments are very perceptive and convincing. By your own logic, then (with which I entirely agree), how justified is your opening statement (with which, it goes without saying, I don’t agree) that fairness cream ads are racist? As you yourself subsequently point out, they are merely cashing in on the common Indian fixation about fairness. If you will pardon a pun, the advertisers are just exploiting an assured milk cow 🙂 . What I cannot understand (and I have said this more than once before on this blog) is why are the women’s groups not raising a vociferous protest against this.

    What you are suggesting, but not saying in so many words, is that most (I would say 99.99……% ) of all ads, especially on TV, are insulting to the intelligence of all but the most brainless and insensitive viewer. There are no laws (at least not for ordinary citizens) against insult, unless a case for defamation can be made. So the only means available to us mere mortals are protest, boycott, and complaining to the ASCI.

  27. February 2, 2009 8:38 pm

    Very informative post Nita! I knew some advertisements were pathetic but so many and in such subtle ways!

    • February 2, 2009 9:13 pm

      Thanks all of you for your responses and you will have to excuse me for not replying individually to you at this time as have got caught up in something quite hectic on the personal front! However all of you have raised pertinent and important points. I do agree that all those advertisers who advertise with a malafide intent to cheat people, should get more punishment than simply getting their advertisement removed. They should be treated like any other cheats and frauds. About fairness creams, even guys use them as has been mentioned and have simply become a feature that people have started to believe is part of good looks. Most Indians believe that fair people (both men and women) are better looking. The ads are ofcourse offensive but I wonder why people don’t think the ad for men fairness creams is offensive? And just replace the chocolate man in the Axe ad with a woman, and you will have a lot of women up in arms! The Axe ad objectified men didn’t it! 🙂 But no one is saying anything about that! Anyway, reams and reams has been written about fairness creams, articles, blog posts, and there was even a talk show on NDTV! I personally do not get offended by the product as it is fulfilling a need in people’s heads as long as the product works and protects from tanning, in the sense it actually works. However, I do not like the creative in the ads. The ads should be more subtle and take into account sensitivites. But then most ads don’t do they.

      And about Vivek’s point about ad interuptions, well the tv channels survive with the ads. Otherwise the cost to the consumer for the channels would be very high, which would not be affordable to most people.

  28. vasudev permalink
    February 2, 2009 9:12 pm

    quite impressive. i have copied this link to a particularly private friends web. hope you don’t mind.

  29. February 2, 2009 9:42 pm

    These guys should be fined heavily. Just pulling back the ad is not a deterrent as these companies have enough cash to come up with another misleading ad.

  30. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 10:06 pm


    Commercial TV channels over most of the world survive on ads. My point (which you choose to side-track) is not about the commercials per se but about the frequency and duration of the interruptions due to commercials. I have seen occasionally (I daresay more than I have in India) watched commercial channels in more committedly capitalist countries than India, but nowhere have I found them so consistently infuriating). And a point which I did not raise on this post, but have in the past — why do broadcast volumes have to be raised to deafening levels for the commercials?

    Finally, I repeat my question which you have not answered: is there an authority to which one can appeal against such atrocities?

  31. February 2, 2009 10:25 pm

    First thing first, my family members have a very bad habit of watching atleast three serials at the same time. So, you can guess, that I haven’t seen any of the recent advertisements! 😦 The condition is worse on Sundays and Saturdays when the “Simultaneous Serials” count go to 5-6! Phew!!!

    @Reema: Also I think that “ye to bada toing hai” ad needs to be banned!
    What is this ad all about?

  32. Solilo permalink
    February 2, 2009 10:29 pm

    That was an interesting read and this one ‘Dabur’s SaniFresh Thick Toilet Cleaner’ takes the cake. I haven’t seen most of these advts. but I remember Axe one ;).

    There were some before like the Thums Up one where they had to add a disclaimer later.

    When will fairness advt. stop in India? It should be objected too.

  33. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 2, 2009 10:43 pm

    Does anyone remember a Maaza ad that featured a girl swimming in a glass of the drink? That thoroughly and permanently put me off Maaza (the very idea that someone had been swimming in it, irrespective of whether or not she had showered before jumping in). I am sure that was not the response the smartass ad designer had aimed at.

  34. February 2, 2009 10:50 pm

    “Firstly, it is medically impossible (unless you have artificial plastic surgery a la Michael Jackson) to biologically change the colour of your skin overnight or even over a year.”

    locutus83, look up vitiligo on the web.

  35. locutus83 permalink
    February 2, 2009 11:17 pm

    @Amit: I knew someone would come up with vitiligo just to be pesky for the heck of it. Let me waste some keystokes and humour you then:

    Vitiligo is a skin disease or disorder due to internal immune system malfunction. It is not an external procedure willingly performed as therapy or skin treatment, and I am not very sure too many people would want to willingly get vitiligo either just to look fair.

    Oh and yes, Michael Jackson has chemically altered his face and has had plastic surgery, supposedly to cover up his partial vitiligo.

  36. February 3, 2009 12:26 am

    Great compilation.
    Some years back,I had written to ASCI against the print ad of a food supplement that clearly said it had fish in it while the “Vegetarian green dot” was placed in the ad.This was confusing.
    I am not sure if they withdrew the ad after my complaint.


  37. February 3, 2009 1:00 am

    “Oh and yes, Michael Jackson has chemically altered his face and has had plastic surgery, supposedly to cover up his partial vitiligo.”

    Exactly my point, that he underwent surgery or whatever chemical treatment he had in response to vitiligo, and not just for the fun of changing his skin color, as your comment seemed to imply.

    And ‘pesky’ is my middle name. Pesky is good – it keeps Howard Roark-wannabes on their toes.

  38. Naveen permalink
    February 3, 2009 2:03 am


    Yes, Amit is right. He told that in an interview with Oprah.

    And why do ‘champions in personal freedom’ now have an objection to people’s genuine interest to look, the way they wish. And why do you claim it as a fixation now?

  39. openlight permalink
    February 3, 2009 3:10 am

    Due to cut throat competition , there is bid to outbid the other company.

    And the lax Indian implementation of laws, advertisements was the easiest way to carry out any misleading info to popularize your product.

    Hence, two steps help us achieve clarity over the matter as, consumer himself has the final say on the product and once bad name is carried, it is carried for life of company.

    I am of the view that following 2 steps will counter any such misleading stuff —
    1. Use natural products accesible in raw form i.e. instead of ready made energy drinks, one can rely on age old receipes for some nutritious food.

    2. Take a sample of any product you want to try and after fully being satisfied with results and comparison with other competitors, buy the bigger pack

  40. Vinod permalink
    February 3, 2009 3:17 am

    The Sisley Fall Winter Collection promotional e-mailer was found to be offensive by some. The headline said: – “You’ll melt once inside” and this was accompanied by a picture of a woman in a seductive pose. This, a complainant said, was nothing but pornography. The advertiser had to withdraw this mailer.

    The objecction to this ad comes as a surprise to me. I thought Indians were not that prudish. I guess I was wrong.

  41. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 3, 2009 6:52 am


    //…people’s genuine interest to look, the way they wish.//

    THE WAY THEY WISH? REALLY!!! I thought it was all a conspiracy involving

    (1) bags of shit called advertising people


    (2) scumbags called marketing people,

    arrogating to themselves the roles of being

    (a) arbiters of our tastes,

    (b) engineers of our aspiraions


    (c) determinators of our shopping habits,

    sending out supposedly subliminal messages to imagined herds of zombies to manipulate their socially conditioned or brainwashed minds with the help of

    obscenely paid, flushable-down-the-toilet turds such has Hindi film stars and fashion models,

    or other (not so obscene but redundant nonetheless) ‘star’ figures such as cricketers, or occasionally, the practitioners of other, lesser sports.

    In short, the strategy of the is to influence us through the least common denominators of intelligence and taste.

    “The way they wish” indeed!

  42. Naveen permalink
    February 3, 2009 7:59 am


    I agree with you about Advertising. My point was not about Advertising though. Its about people wanting something. Some people are more vulnerable to Advertisements, especially Shopoholics (like alcoholics). Shopping gratifies the reward/ pleasure zone of the brain. And I thought, we all agreed yesterday that ‘enjoyment culture’ is a personal thing.

    Find some interesting research below

  43. February 3, 2009 7:59 am


    In response to your query (finally my expertise come in handy :D); Hair is pretty strong. In fact researchers are working to find out if they can be used in sutures.

    As for whether it can break concrete, I am not sure what kind of contraption was used on the bars. If it is just screws, (and obviously depending on what kind of screws and bolts, street light bolts are pretty strong) then it is very easily possible. (I don’t think there was concrete involved, if there was, I would try letting ASCI know about it)

    To put things in perspective, human hair (on the average, since hair strength varies by ethnicity and oriental hair is supposedly the strongest, all other factors being the same) is stronger than bone (by far), copper, cast iron, certain Aluminum alloys and nearly as strong as some industrial grade steels and brass.

    Needless to say this this is not indicative of root strength, which is why you see the model holding her hair loose near her head so she isn’t pulling them out of her scalp. I haven’t done enough research on root strength of hair, so if you are planning on trying this out, do it like it is done in the ad; or else you might not like the results.

    @Naveen: It is one thing to comment on someone’s personal choice, another to coerce them to do your bidding.


    Your comment reminds me of this scene from the movie Diggers.

  44. February 3, 2009 8:06 am

    I forgot to mention another parameter, apart from strength. Surface area. Her hair had to be thick enough to be effective.

  45. February 3, 2009 8:38 am

    I am sure axe must have had problems with every other ad’s of theirs.

  46. February 3, 2009 9:39 am

    It’s great to know that ads are being subject to some kind of scrutiny! Yes, I agree with most people here that this is a useful post for the common man about how we can take action.
    The “Dark Temptation” ad runs in this part of the world 🙂 Objectification is still not viewed as a man’s problem. And honestly, are men complaining?
    About the fairness cream controversy: the Pond’s White Beauty series (pinkish white glow? Who are they talking about?) made me cringe. I wonder how it was received and reviewed in India.

    I recall reading a blog post by an ING customer who wrote to the bank complaining about the ad and threatening to shut her account with the bank. (can’t find the link now).

    The will and access to complain is a relatively new phenomenon. Thanks to the Internet, I think more of us will participate in such social dialogue.

    Nita, hope you can take some time off and deal with your personal pressures. Come back soon 🙂

  47. February 3, 2009 5:28 pm

    1. I love advertisements and I am a vigilant consumer. Needless to say, this post has delighted me.

    2. I came close to petitioning ASCI on many occasions in the past but never actually did it! It is common to find unethicalism and misleading claims in the ads by various coaching institutes for the UPSC CSE in the Hindu newspaper (Delhi ed.). I even wrote an elaborate letter to the Hindu newspaper reader’s editor some four years ago but in vain! I think I will do something better late than never. This year when the results are declared they will all claim the toppers!

    3. I am glad so many people have commented on this post. Consumers activism has always thrilled me.

    4. I often look for typos in ads. One Naaptol ad on TOI home page had a grammatical error; I reported it to them and they corrected it later. Recently I found a govt. ad for the ban on smoking. Instead of report the offence at helpline no., they wrote “repeat the offence”!

    5. The palm tree (header) looks wonderful; I spent a minute looking at it! I felt like some reward will fall in my lap, if I looked hard enough! I am not going back disappointed, needless to say.

  48. Nimmy permalink
    February 3, 2009 6:49 pm

    I am confused reading Vikas’s comment..Isn’t that header coconut tree,the national tree of my small state 😉

  49. February 3, 2009 7:07 pm

    @ Nimmi’s Comments [Coconut or Palm?!]

    I don’t know Nimmi! To be honest, we North Indians use Coconut and Palm tree interchageably! I may be wrong.

    This Yahoo answers entry is also relevant.

    Let’s wait for Nita to adjudicate. 😉

  50. February 3, 2009 7:52 pm

    Wow! This took me a very long time to read the post and all the comments. Everyone did very good reasoning!

    I wonder why reputable companies who already have brand consiousness in the market attempt to sneak in through the back door and risk themselves a bad name. Passing on fair and reality based promisies make advertising more germane for consumers. The advertisment agencies with a load of resources like concept writers, script writers, creativity directors and finally the camera men are to blame. Once the Company approves the advertisement agencies with only “art sketches” there is no turning back. I really hope that consumers like us get more educated in terms of the reality a product released in the market can do like not believing in a cream which can evaporate the black pigment melanin or eat up the Vitamin D3 to have colourless skin pigmentation 🙂

  51. February 3, 2009 8:02 pm

    Coconut:Palm as Rottweiler:Dogs

  52. February 3, 2009 8:03 pm

    Stupid wordpress

    Coconut : Palm as Rottweiler : Dogs

  53. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 3, 2009 8:10 pm

    @Vikas, Nimmi:

    The coconut “tree” is one of several kinds of palm. Other common ones in India are the date, the toddy, the sago, the betel- or arecanut etc. The total no. of species of palm around the world (including trees and shrubs) is somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000. I am sure you will find a lot more on the net. Try Wikipedia for a start.

  54. February 3, 2009 8:14 pm

    @Vivek S. Khadpekar [Coconut or Palm?]

    Thank you for the info!

  55. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 3, 2009 8:26 pm

    @Vikas, Nimmi:

    For information that is comprehensive without getting too technical, see:

    My apologies for a bit of erroneous information in the previous comment. The sago plant is botanically not a true palm.

  56. Naveen permalink
    February 3, 2009 9:32 pm

    There is also some difference in views between south and north in the composition of Maida. In South, people think it is made up of Tapioca. In North, it is another kind of wheat flour. Never knew, which one is correct.

  57. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 3, 2009 10:29 pm

    @ Naveen:

    You are right about the different definitions of maida in the south and the north. But I am more than mildly surprised by your choice of the distinct verbs “think” and “is”, hinting that, as in all other things, what the north perceives is definitive, whereas what the south believes leaves room for doubt.

    Incidentally, even the maida of the north is not just any wheat flour, it is the portion sieved, after milling, through a fine mesh (ca. 600 openings per sq. in.), used generally for making white bread, cakes and pastry, naan, kulche, luchi, bhature etc. The coarser variety is known as aata.

  58. February 3, 2009 10:37 pm

    I think they should be made to carry a retraction ad on TV saying “We are sorry, watever we said in the ad was not correct.” That’ll really teach them

  59. February 3, 2009 10:44 pm

    @Myself, this post, Nimmy, Coconut/palm, Maida, Depressed doormat, Naveen, Vivek

    This post was about unethical advertising! I diverted it to Coconut/palm and it is taking fresh shapes with every passing moment (North India, South India, dogs, Maida…)!

    When the cat (Nita) is away, the mice (us) will play! 🙂

    • February 3, 2009 10:57 pm

      The cat is very much here and enjoying the exchange! 🙂 Guys the “irrelevant” not allowed in my comment policy is simply a ruse to get stop fights! 🙂 Let me add one more irrelevant thing! The reason I had been away is more or less sorted out now and am now busy penning a post for tomorrow but it’s already almost eleven and I am only half done. 😦 Anyway, am turning in now! G’night to all.

  60. February 3, 2009 11:05 pm


    Thank you for letting the cat out of the bag, Nita!

  61. February 4, 2009 12:02 am

    hey can i sue them all claiming that i used all the product and services but it didnt live upto my satisfaction 😆 😛

  62. February 4, 2009 12:08 am

    on a serious note, i too found some advertisement offensive particularly the axe (dark temptation)
    i think it had a little sexual undertone to it which i think is really not acceptable.
    advertisement are a mean to make the buyers aware and not for misleading them . in that case all such companies should be sued

  63. February 4, 2009 12:09 am

    and nita thanks for adding me to your blogroll 😛

  64. Naveen permalink
    February 4, 2009 12:21 am

    I am from south and it is not true, what you interpreted from my comments.

  65. February 4, 2009 12:31 am

    This is a very informative piece of article and Honestly I haven’t known about ASCI. We had always been interested in ads that are really cool and different, but once a while ads like these pass and we hardly notice it, unless someone points at what’s wrong. Good one !

  66. February 4, 2009 12:36 am

    Aren’t perfumes/colognes to make people smell better so that the women/men don’t get put off by body odor? Isn’t its primary objective to help you attract a “mate”? Of course there is going to be a sexual undertone in any perfume/cologne ad. While we talk, research is being carried out on the relation of pheromones with our olfactory senses, which if conclusive will cause more aggressive advertising from cologne manufacturers with sexual “undertones”. Brace yourselves for the recoil from the fragile Indian sensibilities.

    I loved that ad by the way. It drove home the message, and was not any more misleading than the Tata indica ads on the race track and was less racy than the cheaply sexual movies in bollywood during the 80’s and 90’s.

    My question here is, how is someone supposed to advertise condoms and “performance enhancers”?

  67. February 4, 2009 2:55 am

    i think it had a little sexual undertone to it which i think is really not acceptable.

    Arre Arpit, bhool gaye? With our culture including Khajuraho and Kama Sutra, why are you finding a little sexual undertone discomforting? 😀
    The popular meme is that our culture wasn’t about guilt related to sex – let’s leave it to others to wallow in guilt over sex.

  68. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 4, 2009 5:22 am

    @ Naveen:

    I did suspect that later — a hard-boiled NI would not even have heard of tapioca, let alone have the knowledge of its connection with maida. But then, the tone of that “is” vs. “think” smacked of a typically NI “there can be no other possibility than what Our Majesty says” arrogance.

    Anyway, let it pass. But remember, politeness (as reflected by your “maybe-the-other-guy-is-right attitude) in such cases is unwarranted. It’s like casting pearls before you-know-what.

  69. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 4, 2009 5:37 am

    @ DD:

    //the cheap.. movies in bollywood during the 80’s and 90’s.//

    Why only the 80s & 90s. BOLLYWOOD = CHEAP is an equation in which there are no variables, all constants!

    A fantastic comment, though. Of course in the scenario you anticipate “undertones” will become “overtones”.

    As to your concluding question, humans are the only species in which courtship rites require the female to be the “attractor”. In most other species that role is assigned by nature to the male. Some of the earlier comments on this post suggest that our species too is going that way. So your question is already answered. 🙂

  70. February 4, 2009 7:05 am

    Very comprehensive and well researched post Nita!

    I have noticed this very interesting trend in the US where they openly refer to competing brands in ads. An ad for a Subway sandwich will name the competition and prove how the subway sandwich is better than the competition.

    I never saw this in India. If they were to compare with competition they would change the name a little or hide the logo, or something like that.

  71. Naveen permalink
    February 4, 2009 9:17 am


    Sure, Let it pass. I did carry away sometimes. I realize it now. Thats not me. I apologize.

  72. Vivek S. Khadpekar permalink
    February 4, 2009 10:15 am


    Apology uncalled-for. Maybe I was unduly harsh in my comment, but my objective was to caution against subtle brainwashing by so-called “mainstream” opinion.

  73. February 4, 2009 10:33 am

    @Naveen and Vivek

    All’s Well That Ends Well!

  74. vivekmittal permalink
    February 4, 2009 11:35 am

    @ Vivek K

    \\Maybe I was unduly harsh in my comment\\

    dont mind, we are all habitual 🙂
    sorry, responding to your comment to someone else

  75. February 4, 2009 11:36 am

    Many a times, the product/brand benefits from a controversial ad campaign that got banned. Remember the madhu sapre milind soman ad or even the ‘yeh toh bada toing’ ads!
    Where there’s no intelligence or quality, you have to depend on controversy!

  76. February 4, 2009 5:19 pm

    @ amit : i am talking about the larger audience and not just about the educated ones. sure, i do agree with you but it must be kept in mind that viewers comprise of all age group including kids.
    its not about guilt but its about what is morally correct and acceptable. i am not trying to act like a moral police, but that was my personal opinion and take me as one of the member of the age group i talked about and i think that might voice the common opinion of many

  77. February 4, 2009 5:21 pm

    plus, we are still living in a country where sex is a “taboo”. so it will take time to adjust to the changes but the change has to be brought in a conscious manner without hurting anybody sentiments

  78. February 4, 2009 5:24 pm

    @ doormat : i will agree with vivek, the undertone needs to be controlled till it becomes overtone

  79. February 5, 2009 4:12 am

    i loved this post, Nita

    where do you get all this info from?

    thanks for sharing. thoroughly enjoyed!

  80. February 5, 2009 5:35 pm

    […] Advertisement Mistakes by Nita Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Zoo-xperience300 pound Tigress escapes cage, kills one and mauls two others…Police do not rule out HUMAN interaction in Tiger rampage, that leaves one …Neko Case Tells PETA to ’Blow’ […]

  81. February 7, 2009 12:38 am

    nice article 🙂 … thanks

  82. February 9, 2009 6:30 pm

    Yes, very informative.Whatever has been writtten and commented upon is fine but what about the TV viewres in rural areas who can’t be expected to understand the complicated and legal issues involved in advertising.I think rural population is highly influenced by the TV advertising.
    I was once told by an AD man,most of the shampoo manufacturers hit upon the idea of sachet pack to cater to the rural clients as the outflow per bath was just about Rs 1/ where as the customer gets the pleasure of urban shampoo bath which eventually becomes a habbit.
    Recently, I saw a hoarding of a low-cost airline at golf course road in Gurgaon which said”sleep with your wife”, small print said…return the same evening to your destination.
    No doubt,all the comments have logic but as there is an angle on Rural/Urban advertising so is the angle of North and South.

    • Thomas permalink
      September 16, 2010 6:23 pm

      Yes ”sleep with your wife”, means return the same evening to your destination. Or it could be interpreted in any way you like. The thing is India is a mixed country with mix feelings and mixed reactions to all issues including ads. So the ad people will go on making ads that they feel are appealing to the target audience regardless of complaints and cribs.

  83. February 10, 2009 10:49 pm


    I have just finished watching India win 20-20 Match against Sri Lanka. With Neo sports broadcasting it, had to switch to DD- sports.

    I was very off with Ads they showed, on television between breaks, they could find in match. I was all time overlapping.

    But only best part was, with each break they had at least one Ad, that was on consumer awareness, consumer complaint forums.

    A step towards social awareness.

  84. Aditi permalink
    February 23, 2009 12:21 pm

    Thanks a lot for this post Nita!
    I always wanted to know what the procedure was if you wanted to report a irresponsible ad.

  85. March 3, 2009 2:20 pm

    Very interesting and informative post, Nita! I read once in while that a certain ad has been taken off air due to complaint regarding the veracity of their claims, etc. Like I remember that Vim does not have any lemon content, while they implied that it has, so the ad was changed after they lost a case regarding this. They admitted that it only had lemon or lime flavor. But this was the first time I got so much systematic info about this. I feel ad censorship is very important.

  86. March 16, 2009 3:01 pm

    As usual i loved the post and also came to know where to complain in case i feel like doing so

  87. March 19, 2009 9:14 pm

    Notwithstanding the risk of writing a pointless 91st comment, thank you. This is priceless.

  88. anuj permalink
    July 25, 2009 6:24 pm

    I am in the learning stage of this mad ad world and i really found this post useful. I got an insight into the way the ads are to be judged and analysed.


  1. If Movie Posters Were Honest « Chirag Chamoli

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