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Irresponsible, did you say?

April 30, 2008

If you are the adventurous, or, the daredevil, sort, you probably enjoy watching the recent commercials for Bajaj Pulsar Mania and Thums Up. But these two commercials, with awesome stunts, are already courting controversy. The Mumbai Police has called for a ban on these commercials on the grounds that youngsters are easily influenced by such commercials and try to emulate the models on screen, with often grievous consequences for themselves and onlookers. Others, however, feel that the Bajaj Pulsar Mania television commercial just demonstrates how to sell a product and Bajaj has outdone itself with the commercial featuring Jackie Chan, Asia’s most expensive actor.

The action-packed TV commercial shows bikers in a thrilling stunt sequence lasting 1 minute and 30 seconds. The commercial, shot in Cape Town, South Africa and performed by a stunt team, including European stunt riding champion A.C. Farias and Matte Griffin, went on air last week. The much-talked about TVC has been made by O&M.

Similarly, conceptualised by Sainath Saraban of Leo Burnett, the latest Thums Up commercial showcases Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar in a captivating, James Bondesque car chase in pursuit of a bottle of Thums Up. Says Vikas Gupta, VP (Marketing), Coca-Cola India: “The ‘Thums Up Taste The Thunder’ series portrays every person’s hidden yearning—to dare and win over the impossible; to set unbelievable targets and to have the power to accomplish them.”

Says D.K. Guha, Vice President, Lowe-Lintas: “Billing these commercials as irresponsible is actually underestimating the maturity of youngsters. One of our recent surveys reveals that kids start looking at ads, images and visuals critically from the age of 12-13. They try to find the hidden messages being communicated through these images. Given such maturity levels, you can hardly expect them to emulate something that might lead to an accident.”

Advertising Standards Council of India has already stepped in. A total of 14 ads (for two- and four-wheelers) were pulled up by ASCI because they demonstrated risky stunts/activities. They include the Tavera ad featuring Indian cricketers, Bajaj Pulsar 200 and Hero Honda CBZ Extreme.

But what about these ads?

Ritwik Mukherjee

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