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The Subtle Not so Subtle Messages behind Advertisements

Whenever I browse through Instagram, Facebook, or even tune in to headlines on the television, I come across myriads of advertisements. Just last night, I switched on my TV to listen to the news bulletin and three prime time advertisements (out of many) caught my attention ultimately. 

The ad which captivated me the most was the new ‘Glow and Lovely’ commercial which features an actress, adorned in an ethereal dress with an unbelievably gleaming, and pristine skin explaining how this recently developed cream includes multi-vitamins that penetrates deep inside the skin and remove any blemishes. 

Consequently, the skin appears radiant. The reason this advertisement fascinates me is how it challenges societal beauty standards. In the past, the cream was manufactured as ‘Fair and Lovely’ and received a lot of criticism (and rightly so) for attributing beauty to fair complexion only. However, recently it has been renamed and introduced in the market as ‘Glow and Lovely’ which is a diminutive step in the right direction. After all, beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and shades. To be alluring, an individual does not need to be light-toned.

Another commercial that I found exhilarating was the ‘Tapal family mixture’ advertisement. This succinct ad presents a small family residing in a snug abode with the eldest son dealing with dysphemia, which means he stutters while talking. The mother appears to be making tea while the son is engrossed in his preparation for a seemingly significant interview. The family extends their full support to their son and encourages him to have faith in himself. In addition to this, they assisted him in building the foundation of self-actualization. His brood never protected him, rather prepared him to face all sorts of situations and meet diverse people from various realms of life. 

The young man is then shown being interviewed. The interviewer mocks him because of his constant stammering. Instead of despairing the man says he will speak after pauses, but will certainly speak. The commercial ends with the family sipping a cup of tea, and the mother seems tearful. I believe this ad breaks all norms and perfectly depicts a potent family that thoroughly understands psychological disorders. The theme of unconditional support has been portrayed beautifully. Moreover, the ad demonstrates the resoluteness of the brilliant man who does not let his speech impairment hold him back. Similar values and strengths need to be inculcated in the people of our society if they are to emerge triumphantly.

Last but not the least, another advertisement which I feel I need to discuss is the ‘Surf Excel’ commercial. I have noticed how this commercial plays often yet nobody has ever raised their concerns about it. A little girl is seen playing football while her grandmother passes a casual comment about how she is astonished by her skills. The grandmother assumed since she is a girl she may be weak at sports. I find this disturbing because I believe girls are equally proficient as boys at every task. Such sexist views need to be condemned. Also, the girls’ clothes become stained and her grandmother explains to her mother how it would be impossible to clean them now. In our society, gender roles are not well structured. Cleaning is a basic necessity yet we never witness a man washing clothes in an advertisement. Our advertisements direly need to broaden their horizons and expand detergent ads to males as well in an attempt to disintegrate the chains of misogyny in society. 

The above-mentioned advertisements have their pros and cons. Some carry forward an epitome of top-notch cultural standards while most follow the conventional patriarchal approach.

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About The Author

Iqra Ali Mirza

Hi everyone! Iqra Ali Mirza from S3H here. My major is psychology and no, I can not look at you and tell what is going on in your mind. I'm a pro procrastinator who enjoys binge-watching seasons and movies amidst workload. My favorite TV show is ' The Good Place'. My motto throughout this semester has been : 'if it isn't the due date, it isn't the do date.' Recently I have realized what a risky game I have been playing. Moreover, I'm a foodie but also a fitness enthusiast. Thus, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a dilemma in my life since I love food. I like socializing and going to the gym. Other than that, I am not an avid reader. Most people find this pretty strange. I think it's some-what normal (or at least I hope). That's pretty much it about me.