How the new “Karbonn” advert exploits us!

Before I begin, I’d like you to watch these seemingly innocuous advertisements linked below so that you can better comprehend what I’m trying to say.

So recently I came across these advertisements on the television while watching IPL and they made me sit up and think. They are for a mobile phone brand known as “Karbonn”. I looked it up on Wikipedia to confirm my apprehensions and yes, there it was. It is definitely an Indian brand and more importantly, its prime consumer base is India as well. That means their advertisements are tailor made for Indian citizens.

Now some of you might have understood the bone I am trying to pick here.
Nevertheless, the thing that struck me as really odd was that in both of these ads, none of the actors in any frame look even remotely “Indian”, so to say. Even the people in background don’t seem to fit the profile. Now this would have been completely understandable(acceptable?) had it been any other multinational brand that thought better to recycle the ad they made for US/Europe instead of spending funds on making another one for our third world country. But keeping in mind that “Karbonn” is a brand based out of India and targets the subcontinent primarily, this seems a farce. As these products are low-range mobile phones, they aim to sell a consumer good to a person by showing him a person which he can’t even relate with, enjoy that product.

But the more I think of it, the more I get it. Hell, I’d go even so far as so to say that this is a very clever move. And I don’t really blame them for exploiting what is out in the open. It is a well known fact that most Indians have a low self-esteem and Karbonn just took advantage of that inferiority complex. Isn’t that what marketing is all about? They just advertised their product to a specific section of the common folk by showing them that “If it is good enough for these “Inglish peoplez”, it must be good enough for you!” And if this isn’t clever marketing, I don’t know what is.

This all is just a by-product of the society we live in. This all encompassing consumerism that seeks to seep to into every crevice, every fissure, every chasm it can make its way into. Exploiting the tendencies that somehow bring us down in our own eyes. Just helping us keep that looming existential crisis at arm’s length, oh how considerate of them! Marketing us with a plethora of products and services that guarantee to help us lift ourselves so that we can see eye-to-eye with the person staring back at us through the other side of the mirror. Exceptional, it truly is.


9 thoughts on “How the new “Karbonn” advert exploits us!

  1. IMO Its not just about the “Ingliss Peepul”.I mean TVCs for big ad campaigns have Bigass budgets nowadays,so the Indian companies just want to make there ads look as lavish as their “Ingliss” counterparts so that the product builds a trust in the minds of the consumer who is currently stuck with the products from the overseas market.So,just to make there ads look BIGGER and BETTER they shoot these commercials with ‘firangi locashuns and firangi peepul’,For eg:-Putting Hugh Jackman (the wolverine) in Micromax (another Indian company) ads was just to prove that “we can get the Hollywood Stars too.Our D%©k, if not Bigger,is as Long as those MNC companies out there”…So,”consumers-relating-to-the-people-in-the-ads” theory is a hoax.after all do you think we really relate to the bollywood stars in these stupid ads,drinking cold drinks while falling off the sky in a jeep tied to a helicopter??.:p


    • I agree that the motive here is to depict themselves as far as possible from reality. And hiring “firangis” gives them an aura of superiority, but I believe that can be achieved by simulating the conditions of an actual Indian scenario as well, maybe by hiring “Ingliss peepul” in such scenarios. My qualm with the advert was not that they hired non-indians, but that they simulated an environ that radiated feelings of it being set not in India, even though they were targeting Indian customers.
      And yeah, Hugh was shown to be doing a “Namaste” 😀
      And I agree that most of the times you can’t relate to the ads, but that isn’t a pre-requisite for an ad to be good. Although, the ones that strike a chord with the audiences leave a lasting impression. 🙂


  2. This has nothing much to do with companies itself. Companies don’t make ads or any type of contribution in public relations department. They hire PR agencies like Ogilvy PR (one of the first in India) or new ones and locally based ‘i9communication’ (Rajasthan). The father of PR was Edward Bernays, and in those days PR was openly called ‘Propaganda’ (his book is names Propaganda too) and he said, “the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy”. So you get the idea what advertisement industry is all about. btw did you know that newspaper consist of 60+ % of ads and rest is news. And when television and cable channels started they had two slots, one was called ‘the component’ other was called ‘fillers’ and Fillers were actual TV programs. Its pretty much the same right now, just the names have changed.


    • The PR department is a subset of the company. So if any action of the PR department isn’t in sync with the actual bosses, it cannot be put up on a national platform. So IMO the responsibilty of adverts, though conceptualised by the PR department/Ad agencies, can be traced back to the company as a whole itself.


  3. Gori choris can befound every now and then in ads,songs and even movies. They get short roles and still make large money. Indian men are inadvertently attracted to white flesh. Which is why we get to see more of them nowadays. So it is no wonder why firangis are penetrating Bollywood deeper. More or less onus lies on us, we are shown what we like to see.


    • Yes I agree with you. But the thing that struck me odd in this specific advert was the fact they consciously tried to remove any hint of letting the viewer know that the setting for this might be India. Most of the other stuff features foreigners as add-ons.


  4. You are right…they are not the first ones. Many other brands have tried this- if this product is good enough for should take pride in owning it. Good observation b the way


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