Advertising Educational Foundation

[Editor's Note: This article is a part of ADText.]

Fig. 1. The Ancient and the Modern Coexist in Contemporary India
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Fig. 1.

The Ancient and the Modern Coexist in Contemporary India1

There are two Indias in this country. One India is straining at the leash, eager to spring forward and live up to all the adjectives that the world has increasingly been showering upon us. The other India is the leash. One India says, "Give me a chance and I'll prove myself." The other India says, "Prove yourself first and maybe then you'll have a choice." One India lives in the optimism of our hearts. The other lurks in the skepticism of our minds….

—From a Times of India television commercial inline graphic inline graphic

1. Introduction

Compare the numbers on some of the world's most populous countries.

India is the world's second most populous nation. Over a billion people live within its borders, making it second in size only to China. It is a land where the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, and the local and the international coexist—sometimes comfortably, sometimes not. In managing brands and targeting consumers, advertising must understand and contend with the social and cultural diversity of India. Thus, if advertising is to reflect society, the question in India becomes: Which India to reflect? inline graphic inline graphic

The contrast between what is manufactured at home (and thus, Indian) and what is imported (and thus, global) touches the very heart of Indian national identity. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), who led the Indian subcontinent to independence from Great Britain in 1947, called on Indians to boycott goods manufactured abroad, especially those made in Great Britain. He spun locally grown cotton for his own clothes and urged fellow Indians to do the same. When Britain taxed salt, Gandhi led a peaceful march to the sea and encouraged his followers to make their own salt. Today, many Indians remain suspicious of imported goods and the multinational corporations that produce them. Others view such foreign influences, including the establishment of foreign corporation branches, as a means of modernizing the country and bringing it into the global economic community. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 2. Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Indian Nation, at His Spinning Wheel in 1942
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Fig. 2.

Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Indian Nation, at His Spinning Wheel in 19422

After years of controlling and closing the economy to foreign influence, the Indian government liberalized the economy in 1991. The years since have witnessed rapid change at virtually every level of the society and culture. Multinational corporations have moved in, imported goods have become widely available, and consumption has become rampant. Today it is possible to buy nearly anything in India—from inexpensive handcrafted bangles to luxury watches, foreign cars, and designer clothing. inline graphic inline graphic

However, only some Indians participate in the economy of mass consumption. There are many for whom purchasing a bar of soap, a soft drink, or a cup of tea is a luxury. The rural poor are largely excluded from participating in the economy, as are vast numbers of working class people in India's many cities. Age also makes a difference in consumption patterns. Well-educated young people often earn as much at entry-level jobs as their fathers had after a lifetime of work, turning traditional patriarchal authority on its head. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 3. This Street Vendor Sells Inexpensive Jewelry and Cloth to Passers-By
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Fig. 3.

This Street Vendor Sells Inexpensive Jewelry and Cloth to Passers-By3

Kishore Dash, a professor of marketing and a specialist on the Indian economy, describes the consumption patterns in contemporary India:

Since the mid-1980s, Indian society has undergone a dramatic shift in social values. The traditional caste-defined view of Indian life, which undervalues social and economic mobility, and the dominance of the Brahmanical culture's disdain toward commerce have been challenged by the middle class in contemporary Indian society. Getting rich and enjoying a good life has become the new mantra of social existence for the Indian middle class. With more income and more purchasing power, the status-conscious Indian middle class now seek to buy good quality consumer products and spend more money on food and entertainment. In metropolitan cities, extensive foreign media exposure and the Internet revolution have contributed to the emergence of a new social attitude which accepts Western values and culture. The contemporary Indian society can be understood on the basis of a 70/30 dynamic. While 70% of Indians are still traditional, poor, and live in rural areas, 30% of Indians (more than 300 million people) have emerged as rich, modern, Western-exposed, English-speaking, urban dwellers.4 inline graphic inline graphic

2. The History of Advertising in India

Anthropologist William Mazzarella divides advertising in post-independence India into four key phases. The first of these began after Indian independence from Great Britain (1947) and lasted until the early 1960s. Indian advertising in this period still operated as an outpost of the British Empire. The overall style of advertising was factual presentation coupled with an overall lack of creativity. The second phase (early 1960s to 1980s) emerged in large part as a reaction to the first and stressed creativity and an Indian professional identity independent of Great Britain. A third phase (1980s) turned away from creative and innovative advertising and toward creating efficient marketing channels that would have a wide impact throughout the country. The fourth and current phase, which also came into being in the 1980s, is characterized by a synthesis of effective marketing mechanisms and a high level of creativity.5 inline graphic inline graphic

Today Indian advertising has the enormous job of speaking to one of the world's most diverse populations. English is the only common language throughout all of India, but it is unknown in many sectors of the population. Television, radio, and newspapers rely on more than two dozen languages, thus limiting the communicative reach of many advertisements to certain geographic regions or some sectors of society. When addressing India's elite, advertising uses English. When speaking more colloquially to the masses, it uses one of the many local languages. In northern India, Hindi is widely used in ads but it is not useful in southern India where it is seldom spoken. Some advertisements combine English and Hindi in a mixture known locally as Hinglish. inline graphic inline graphic

Read William Mazzarella's analysis of advertising in India.

Most large multinational advertising agencies have offices in India—almost certainly in India's financial capital, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), and often in New Delhi and other cities as well. There are successful homegrown agencies that tend to focus more on locally produced brands and advertising aimed at regional populations in languages other than English. inline graphic inline graphic

3. Selling Hamburgers in the Land of the Sacred Cow

Fig. 4. Traditional Garlands of Marigolds Form the Golden Arches
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Fig. 4.

Traditional Garlands of Marigolds Form the Golden Arches6

If there is one thing that foreigners tend to know about India, it is that cows are sacred. Could the world's best-known hamburger restaurant find a place for itself in this cultural context? Although McDonald's has successfully opened restaurants in many countries and adapted itself to the local customs and food preferences, India presented a special challenge. There are Hindus who do not eat beef, Muslims who do not eat pork, and large numbers of people who eat no animal products at all. The Chicago-based company spent four years planning for its entry into India. Its first restaurants opened in Mumbai and New Delhi in 1996. inline graphic inline graphic

After the initial excitement died, the glass facades and brightly lit restaurants looked to many Indians as if they would be expensive. Ruling out beef products from the beginning, McDonald's initial offering, Maharaja Mac burgers, made with mutton, were dry and unappealing due to their relatively low fat content. The French fries, made from Indian-grown potatoes, turned soggy because the local potatoes had a high water content. McDonald's persisted by further adapting its menu, switching the mutton to chicken, fixing the French fry problem, and using advertising to convince potential customers that the bright, inviting atmosphere did not mean high prices. In fact, McDonald's pricing strategy in India counts on making profits through high volume by offering items at extremely low prices. inline graphic inline graphic

McDonald's most important innovation however was to divide its entire operation into vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Throughout the food preparation process, the two are kept entirely separate. Vegetarian items are cooked in vegetarian kitchens and non-vegetarian items are cooked in non-vegetarian kitchens. All restaurants have two highly visible and separate kitchens, and employees wear either green (indicating that they cook, touch, and sell vegetarian items) or red (indicating that they work on the non-vegetarian side). This has gone a long way to convince Indian customers that McDonald's does not contaminate its non-meat foods in any way. While many players have been forced to change their menu or shut shop due to their non-vegetarian menus, this strategy has been very effective in McDonald's being accepted even in India's predominantly vegetarian states. inline graphic inline graphic

The bestselling items on today's menu are the McChicken Sandwich and the McAloo Tikki. McDonald's also introduced the Chicken Maharaja Mac as an "Indian version" of a Big Mac—two non-beef patties on a sesame seed bun—while the McAloo Tikki, a breaded potato pancake on a bun, is McDonald's version of aloo tikki, a popular snack sold by street vendors everywhere. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 5. McDonald's Adaptation of the Big Mac to India
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Fig. 5.

McDonald's Adaptation of the Big Mac to India7

McDonald's success and continuing expansion in India is built upon a number of factors: (1) successfully adapting the menu to local culture and food preference, (2) respecting the feelings and taboos concerning certain meats as well as India's strong vegetarian tradition, (3) placing Indians in ownership and top management positions, (4) demonstrating its concern for environmental issues both in the restaurants and in the communities where restaurants are located, (5) participating in sport-related and educational programs in the communities, and (6) adhering to its global strategy of thinking globally, acting locally. inline graphic inline graphic

Some other American-based food companies doing business in India are TGIFridays, Dominos, Subway, and Pizza Hut.

Critics sometimes refer to the process of global expansion of fast-food restaurants and other multinational corporations as McDonaldization or Cocacolonization. However, in his 2005 case study of McDonald's in India, Dash quoted a senior bureaucrat in New Delhi, who gave the process a different gloss: "I do not see anything wrong with McDonald's doing business in India. After all, it is not the McDonaldization that we know of; it is a Big MacCommodation."8 inline graphic inline graphic

Nonetheless, McDonald's in India has had its share of local critics and protestors. In 2001 McDonald's restaurants in New Delhi and Mumbai were targeted by fanatic Hindu groups after the company was sued in the US for flavoring its French fries with beef fat. McDonald's managed these protesters by producing certification from the Indian government that French fries in India never contained beef fat. Recently a McDonald's restaurant in India was the scene of a protest when a local government official was refused entry into the US. This latter protest had nothing to do with McDonald's (the company,) but a McDonald's restaurant was targeted because—unlike Coca-Cola or Marlboro, for example—it is an actual place where anti-American sentiments can be expressed. inline graphic inline graphic

Contemporary McDonald's advertising in India celebrates the commingling of the old with the new. The Leo Burnett agency based in Chicago handles McDonald's advertising at home and abroad, but it does not send pattern advertising to India for local adaptation. Rather, Leo Burnett (India) is given free rein to produce advertisements that speak to Indian consumers. inline graphic inline graphic

Following McDonald's recognition of different "zones" within India where food preferences differ significantly, McDonald's ads customize messages for different regions and use a variety of languages to communicate.9 Most ads are directed at young adults in the age 25-35 range. The local customization of the ads gives "an Indian face" to a global brand. inline graphic inline graphic

The commercial in Video 1 is typical of McDonald's efforts to place itself in the context of changing Indian culture. A flashback shows a girl taking advantage of the moment when her father is lost in the enjoyment of his burger, getting him to allow her to take his expensive car for a spin. Later, the father smartly reverses the situation as he seizes upon the moment to ask her to meet a boy he has selected for her. The vignette reflects the fact that more and more young people now prefer to take their time to get married (new) while their parents push them towards matrimony (traditional). This combination of the old and the new effectively reflects the realities of contemporary Indian middle-class life. inline graphic inline graphic

A Father Attempts to Act as Matchmaker for His Daughter in a McDonald's Restaurant
Video 1.

A Father Attempts to Act as Matchmaker for His Daughter in a McDonald's Restaurant10

Bollywood refers to India's version of Hollywood. Bollywood movie production exceeds that of Hollywood every year.

Another commercial uses icons from Indian popular culture to advertise McDonald's low prices. A look-alike for Rajesh Khanna, a 1980s Bollywood movie star, tells viewers that McDonald's prices are from his generation, not theirs. The message is reinforced when the look-alike is featured in black-and-white within a restaurant that is featured in full color to communicate semiotically the contrast between the traditional and the modern. inline graphic inline graphic

A Black-and-White Movie Star Look-Alike Talks about Low Prices at McDonald's
Video 2.

A Black-and-White Movie Star Look-Alike Talks about Low Prices at McDonald's11

4. Selling Condoms in the Land of Kama Sutra12

The advertising of condoms and other products related to sex and intimate bodily functions is a complex matter in almost any cultural situation. India has its own unique story to tell. As the country struggled with its development agenda following independence in 1947, the government took steps to stem exponential population growth, including issuing propaganda, encouraging social marketing, promoting and distributing condoms, and sometimes forcibly sterilizing citizens. Although such efforts frequently met with the approval of international aid agencies, condoms themselves signified to many Indians government interference in private lives as well as lessened sexual pleasure. inline graphic inline graphic

A Public Service Announcement Calling for the Use of Condoms
Video 3.

A Public Service Announcement Calling for the Use of Condoms13

When J.K. Chemicals Group approached Lintas:Bombay14 to develop advertising for a new condom brand in 1991, the agency set about to create advertising that would counter this generally negative image of condoms. Former agency head Alyque Padamsee writes about this in his autobiography:

[W]e tried to think of ways to make the product pleasurable. My basic idea was, Can we have a pleasurable condom? So when the user hears the brand name, he says, "Wow. It's a turn on. Not a turn off." That was the essential positioning difference between our advertised brand and any other condom that had ever been advertised.15 inline graphic inline graphic

Many of the sexual positions of the Kamasutra, an ancient Indian text on lovemaking, are depicted in temple carvings at Khajuraho.

Selection of the name KamaSutra was a stroke of genius. It successfully linked symbols of India's cultural history to the new brand. The original Kama Sutra is a treatise on ancient Indian ideas about lovemaking, some of which are depicted on the walls of Hindu temples at Khajuraho in central India. Both the ancient text and the erotic sculptures were generally familiar to the Indian public in 1991, even if few had actually seen the temples or read the text.

Padamsee recounts how the name KamaSutra was chosen:

One of the first names that had emerged was Tiger. It seemed apt. It had all the right connotations of virility and excitement, and seemed to lend itself to interesting visual imagery. But the drawback was it was too male-focused … then, during a brainstorming session, somebody came up with the name Khajuraho [the temple town where the (in)famous "erotic" carvings are located]. This led, naturally and immediately, to Kama Sutra. And the moment that happened, suddenly everybody sat up. Instinctively, we all knew that we'd got what we wanted. It was a winner. There was no need to search any further. The name Kama Sutra had everything. As a brand name it was universal. It telegraphed sex without actually mentioning the forbidden word. It was daring, yet culturally it was wholly acceptable.16 inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 6. Erotic Sculptures in the Ancient Temples at Khajuraho
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Fig. 6.

Erotic Sculptures in the Ancient Temples at Khajuraho 17

The KamaSutra name parlayed the legitimacy of ancient cultural symbols into a license to depict intimacy and sexuality boldly. To understand just how radical this move turned out to be, one need only think of the cultural conservatism of modern India displayed in the carefully choreographed dance movements and body poses in Indian films or the 2006 uproar caused by Richard Gere kissing a Bollywood actress at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi. In the 1990s, KamaSutra stretched the boundaries of the culturally acceptable nearly to the breaking point. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 7. This On-Stage Kiss in New Delhi Caused an Uproar in 2006
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Fig. 7.

This On-Stage Kiss in New Delhi Caused an Uproar in 2006 18

Anthropologist William Mazzarella, telling the story of KamaSutra's introduction into the Indian market, reports the initial media strategy.19 The brand bought all the advertising space in the popular glamour magazine Debonair and filled it with erotic images of Bollywood actors and actresses promoting KamaSutra condoms. This media strategy not only drew public attention but it also opened up debates about the appropriateness of such advertising. As media frenzies always do, it snowballed into significant brand awareness in a short period of time. inline graphic inline graphic

View other KamaSutra commercials and read about advertising for other condom brands in India.

The television commercial in Video 4 followed shortly. It featured Pooja Bedi, a Bollywood celebrity, and Marc Robinson, a top Indian model, in a steamy shower scene that retains its erotic charge even today. Although the commercial was pulled after influential members of the public objected and government censors intervened, it succeeded in linking the contradictory elements of condoms and pleasure with the KamaSutra brand. inline graphic inline graphic

A 1990s KamaSutra Commercial Featuring Bollywood Celebrities
Video 4.

A 1990s KamaSutra Commercial Featuring Bollywood Celebrities20

Mazzarella suggests that KamaSutra advertising also had the effect of replacing governmental interventions in private lives with an ethic of consumerism that linked pleasure with consumption. This ideological shift in public discourse marked a dramatic shift in the messages delivered by the mass media to ordinary people about how they ought to live their lives. inline graphic inline graphic

5. Ogilvy Goes to Work for KamaSutra

Visit Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai, a top Indian ad agency.

In 2006, KamaSutra moved its advertising to the Ogilvy agency, which took a new and revolutionary approach to promoting the brand. Ogilvy continued to focus on sexual foreplay to advertise the brand but turned to role playing as the theme for both print ads and commercials. The commercials depict vivid sexual fantasies and pose a simple, but provocative, question: Who do you want to be tonight? Both commercials and print ads carefully establish that the man and woman are either married or in a long-term relationship by showing their framed portrait on a desk and repeatedly using the same couple, thus sidestepping any potential criticism that the brand advocates promiscuous encounters. inline graphic inline graphic

KamaSutra Commercials Depict Erotic Role Playing
Video 5.

KamaSutra Commercials Depict Erotic Role Playing21

KamaSutra Commercials Depict Erotic Role Playing
Video 6.

KamaSutra Commercials Depict Erotic Role Playing22

Ogilvy creative director Sumanto Chattopadhyay explains the origins of the role playing concept in the agency's advertising strategy: "There are chat rooms all over the Internet where people pretend to be this or that. We saw how much people enjoy the role playing and decided to base the KamaSutra commercials on it." This creative idea, as much a spark of genius as the original KamaSutra advertising, captures a widely shared fantasy—that variety of experience enhances sexual pleasure. The accompanying print ads extend the range of fantasy specifics while maintaining the basic campaign idea. The following ads depict some of the various role playing fantasies that appear in contemporary KamaSutra promotions: nurse/patient, fireman/damsel-in-distress, pirate/wench, etc. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 8. These Ads Show a Couple in Different Role Playing Situations
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Fig. 8.

These Ads Show a Couple in Different Role Playing Situations23

Fig. 9. These Ads Show a Couple in Different Role Playing Situations
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Fig. 9.

These Ads Show a Couple in Different Role Playing Situations 24

Fig. 10. These Ads Show a Couple in Different Role Playing Situations
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Fig. 10.

These Ads Show a Couple in Different Role Playing Situations25

Each of these ads has been carefully constructed so that it focuses only on sensual foreplay, not the sex act itself. Bodies are carefully positioned—for example, a hand is placed just above the buttock but not directly on it and the moment before a kiss rather than the kiss itself is shown. Such careful attention to gestures is KamaSutra's way of pushing the ads to the limits of acceptability without crossing the line. inline graphic inline graphic

The creative team at Ogilvy also developed some supporting ideas to buttress and enhance the role playing campaign. For example, it imagined every package of condoms containing a pirate's eye patch or other parts of familiar costumes as a means of jumpstarting a couple's fantasies. The company employed this idea at a launch event for the commercials, but including such paraphernalia in retail packs of condoms was considered impracticable and too expensive. inline graphic inline graphic

Another creative idea has not been realized, and may never be. It would feature a new sexual promiscuity that the creative team sees right under its nose. The Ogilvy offices share a building with a large call center for outsourced customer service. Throughout urban India, most call-center workers are college students who have the requisite language skills and willingness to work the phones during odd hours. The work puts young men and young women together in relatively open social situations and provides opportunities for sexual encounters, and thus the need for condoms. Condom machines offering many brands are already familiar features of Indian call centers, but perhaps the general public is not ready to admit that many contemporary young adults violate traditional sexual taboos. inline graphic inline graphic

Ogilvy has also toyed with the idea of going back to the ancient imagery of Khajuraho in its ads for KamaSutra. However, both the agency and client felt that stone images could neither carry nor support the equity of the brand. They have instead continued to use flesh-and-blood models with on-camera passions and emotions that go far beyond the mechanistic positions depicted in the temple sculptures. Thus far, only the name KamaSutra has been borrowed directly from Indian cultural heritage, but the complex allusions to and powerful associations with highly charged sexuality and erotic variability are present in the ads without actually being mentioned. It is another case of the oft-repeated advertising dictum, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." inline graphic inline graphic

From the outset KamaSutra understood that the process of walking into a chemist's or tobacconist's shop26 and asking for condoms could be an awkward event, especially when families, women, or children were around. To counteract this, early advertising declared, "Just ask for KS." The KS acronym is so well known now that it stands for a lifestyle, just as Abercrombie & Fitch and FUBU do in America. Sometimes men are said to be "KS-kind of guys," which only goes to show how very successful the brand has been since its inception in the early 1990s. Unlike the US where condoms are marketed by size (large, extra-large, and magnum, for example, but not small, medium, and large), condoms in India do not carry this designation. Instead, ads talk about colors, contours, ribbing, and other features that enhance the experience. inline graphic inline graphic

6. Adapting a Global Campaign to the Indian Context—Lux Soap

Lux soap went on sale in India in 1929. Today it continues to be promoted as a "beauty bar" to women. The J. Walter Thompson Agency27 developed an advertising style for Lux that was used in England, America, Australia, South Africa, and India. Beginning in the 1920s, international Lux ads featured female American film stars endorsing the brand by claiming Lux as the "secret" of their beauty. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 11. This Lux Ad Ran in America in 1933
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Fig. 11.

This Lux Ad Ran in America in 193328

Throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st, JWT has continued to produce Lux ads that reflect the same basic positioning and advertising style. Unlike Leo Burnett and McDonald's, JWT easily adapted the strategy of film-star endorsement to India by using Bollywood actresses. So many famous film stars have endorsed Lux that the roster reads like a "who's who" of Bollywood celebrities. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 12. This Lux Ad Ran in India in 1947
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Fig. 12.

This Lux Ad Ran in India in 194729

For Lux's 75th year anniversary in India, JWT came up with an innovative twist of its regular advertising. The agency suggested using a famous Bollywood male to endorse the brand. The client agreed to try it. Superstar Shahrukh Khan was placed in a large bath filled with flower petals and surrounded by four actresses who had previously endorsed Lux in ads. The agency proposed that Khan ask viewers which one would they would rather bathe with. Always the comedian, Khan asked why he should not instead repeat the famous tagline, "Lux is the secret of my beauty"? The novel commercial was an enormous success both because viewers liked it and because the press gave it an extraordinary amount of publicity. inline graphic inline graphic

Bollywood Star Shahrukh Khan Spoofs Conventional Lux Advertising in This Commercial
Video 7.

Bollywood Star Shahrukh Khan Spoofs Conventional Lux Advertising in This Commercial30

7. Nike Becomes "Indian"

Read about the game of cricket in India and its role in advertising imagery and consumerism.

India's national passion for cricket—played Indian-style—rivals America's love for baseball and Brazil's for soccer. Put simply, it is India's most popular and best loved sport. Most cities and villages have cricket teams and playing fields, but where there are none, people simply improvise. It is the street or "gutsy" cricket that is loved most of all—a version of the game that departs from the strict rules introduced by the English colonists. inline graphic inline graphic

Nike, which had never targeted the cricket market previously, asked its Indian agency, JWT, to make a commercial for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The commercial was an enormous success for the brand in India. It departed from the style of Nike's competitors, which typically use cricket-celebrity endorsements. When traffic comes to a standstill on a busy street, a wild game of cricket breaks out reflecting the unorthodox way cricket is played all over India. It captures the energy and tenacity of the common player and the passion of the fans. Wherever, whenever, however, Indian cricketers "Just Do It." inline graphic inline graphic

This Nike Commercial Puts an Indian Face on the Brand
Video 8.

This Nike Commercial Puts an Indian Face on the Brand31

The commercial was named "Best Commercial of the Year" in an Indian competition. It continued to work for the brand beyond the disappointing World Cup competition because Nike had not placed its hopes on national cricket celebrities but rather showcased the "stars" of improvised Indian cricket. inline graphic inline graphic

8. Advertising Goes Digital in India

Visit Sunsilk's Gang of Girls or interact at the social networking site Orkut.

Although India is home to outsourced call centers and has its own version of Silicon Valley centered in the city of Bangalore, computers and the Internet are not actually used by a large portion of the population. The more conventional advertising media of TV, radio, magazines, and billboards remain far more common. However, as some demographic groups become highly Net-savvy, and networking sites like Orkut (similar to Myspace) gain in popularity, some brands are turning to digital marketing. inline graphic inline graphic

Modern Indian Girls Swap Boyfriend Advice with the Gang on Sunsilk's Site
Video 9.

Modern Indian Girls Swap Boyfriend Advice with the Gang on Sunsilk's Site32

Sunsilk, a well-known brand of shampoo, had typically been associated with middle-aged women. However, it repositioned itself in 2007 by using the Internet. It used TV commercials and billboards to direct young women to, where young women are invited to share advice about careers, beauty, family, and life in general. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 13. This Billboard Invites Girls to Join the Gang
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Fig. 13.

This Billboard Invites Girls to Join the Gang33

Fig. 14. This Billboard Invites Girls to Join the Gang
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Fig. 14.

This Billboard Invites Girls to Join the Gang34

The content of the site is mostly user-generated. It is monitored and updated regularly. Girls post their own thoughts and create their own "gangs." Site administrators post information in response to questions—not just about beauty. The site offers contests of various sorts, including one that encouraged members to "become directors" by uploading videos they had made and another that offered the opportunity to be a "Dreamgirl" by singing and sharing a song from the 2006 Hollywood movie Dreamgirls. inline graphic inline graphic

Become a Famous Director When You Upload Your Videos
Video 10.

Become a Famous Director When You Upload Your Videos35

This community-building site provides an outlet in a society where women, especially unmarried young women, are severely constrained in their social contacts. The anonymity of the website helps them find their voice and express themselves. The brand tries to break through negative stereotypes about women and encourages ambition. Since the launch of the site there has been a shift in brand perceptions. Sunsilk is no longer for older saree- or suit-wearing women with long hair and post-graduate degrees, but for 18-and–older, fun-loving, chance-taking "girls" who like to style their hair and wear trendy clothes. inline graphic inline graphic

9. Conclusion

Advertising plays many roles in contemporary India. For the 300 million or so middle-class and luxury consumers, it offers a glimpse of a worldly good life filled with commodities of all sorts. For the remainder who are currently not able to participate in mass consumption, advertising's images of people enjoying material success cannot be realized in their own lives. inline graphic inline graphic

Mass consumption represents a distinct break with more ancient Indian ascetic traditions and otherworldly concerns. However, advertising attempts to commingle the old with the new rather than suggesting in a facile manner that the global simply replaces the traditional. Advertisers speak of "putting an Indian face on things"—whether the advertising is for McDonald's, Nike, Lux, or another global brand. inline graphic inline graphic

Crain's Chicago Business, a trade publication, offers a series of short informative videos and articles on doing business in India.

According to a commercial for the Times of India newspaper, there are two Indias—one that eagerly anticipates the forces of change and the other that holds onto deeply ingrained traditions. India, as an independent nation, is barely 60 years old. As a civilization, its age exceeds 5,000 years. How its billion citizens fare economically in the next few decades will influence the global economy. inline graphic inline graphic

This Times of India Commercial Speaks about India's Future
Video 11.

This Times of India Commercial Speaks about India's Future36

William M. O'Barr

William M. O'Barr is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University where he has taught since 1969. He holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Sociology and English. He has been a visiting professor at Northwestern, Dalhousie, and Oxford Universities. He has been recognized for his outstanding undergraduate teaching by both the Duke University Alumni Association and Trinity College (Duke University). His course, Advertising and Society: Global Perspectives, is one of Duke's most popular undergraduate courses. His many seminar courses include Advertising and Masculinity, Children and Advertising, and The Language of Advertising.

He is author or co-author of ten books, including Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising, Rules versus Relationships, and Just Words: Law, Language and Power. He has conducted anthropological research in East Africa, Brazil, China, India, Japan, and the United States. In addition to his interest in social and cultural aspects of advertising, Professor O'Barr has researched law in a variety of cultural settings.

In 2000, he founded Advertising & Society Review and served as editor from 2000 to 2005. He is author of which will consist of 20 units published as supplements to A&SR.


3. Courtesy Kristen-Lee Baillie.

4. Kishore Dash, "McDonald's in India," Thunderbird Case A07-05-0015, The Garvin School of International Management, 2005, 10. <> (Accessed June 16, 2008)

5. This summary is based on that by Rohitashya Chattopadhyay ("Batting and Buying: Cricket as a Visual Metaphor in Indian Advertising" Advertising & Society Review 6.1), who in turn based his formulation of these phases on William Mazzarella's book, Shoveling Smoke. (Duke University Press, 2006).

6. Headline: Your favorite McDonald's is now open in Surat.

Copy: The wait is now over. After winning the hearts of people the world over, McDonald's is now in Surat. We're waiting for your arrival impatiently. So what are you waiting for? Come with your family and friends and enjoy the experience. Courtesy Leo Burnett India.

7. Courtesy Leo Burnett India.

8. Dash, "McDonald's in India,",1. <> (Accessed June 16, 2008)

9. At the most general level, McDonald's marketing has divided the country into two primary zones—North and West. It also recognizes further differences within these two large zones and customizes menus accordingly.

10. Daughter: "Dad, can I drive the car today?"

Father: "Mmmmmm"

VO: "The McChicken Burger, Lose yourself to its taste"

Father: "Shall we meet the boy we have chosen for you this Sunday?"

Daughter: "Mmmmmm …"

Father: "I'm lovin' it!"

Courtesy Leo Burnett India.

11. Rajesh Look-alike: "Hey mister, time does not wait for anyone, but I have heard that here, the prices are from my generation."

VO: "Now, McDonald's Happy Price Menu only at Rs20. Get your money's worth!"

Rajesh: "I'm lovin it!"

Courtesy Leo Burnett India.

12. The ancient compendium of texts on love and eroticism collected by Vatsyayana in the second century C.E. is known as Kamasutra (in India) or Kama Sutra (in Western translations). KamaSutra is used as a brand name for condoms marketed in India.

13. From the author's collection.

14. Acquired by the Interpublic Group (IPG), Lintas has integrated into the Lowe Worldwide Network and is now known as Lowe Lintas.

15. Alyque Padamsee, A Double Life: My Exciting Years in Theater and Advertising (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1999), 273.

16. Padamsee quoted in William Mazzarella's Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 117.

17. Courtesy Micbaun of, some rights reserved.

18. American actor Richard Geer kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on stage at an April 2006 rally in New Delhi promoting AIDS awareness. Since Bollywood movies and Indian TV do not normally show actors kissing, .conservative members of the public complained about the inappropriateness of his gesture. Gere issued a public apology. The BBC commented: "Public displays of affection and sex are still largely taboo in India." BBC News, "Gere Kiss Sparks India Protest." <> (Accessed June 16, 2008). From

19. Mazzarella's argument is detailed in his book, Shoveling Smoke.

20. Courtesy Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai.

21. Courtesy Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai.

22. Courtesy Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai.

23. Courtesy Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai.

24. Courtesy Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai.

25. Courtesy Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai.

26. Drug store or tobacco shop/newsstand.

27. Now JWT.

28. Women's Home Companion, April 1933, 113.

30. Courtesy JWT India.

31. Courtesy JWT India.

32. Courtesy JWT India.

33. Courtesy JWT India.

34. Courtesy JWT India.

35. Courtesy JWT India.

36. Courtesy JWT India.