Sunday, July 24, 2005

Promotion and Politics

A famous US tobacco company wanted its brand to be used by women. Scared by a possible public backlash to tobacco ads targeted at women, it started showing women in its ads standing beside smoking men. The next series of ads carried a subtle message: the woman saying "Blow some my way..." to the male smoker. Only after none complained about this ad did the company release its next series of ads featuring women holding cigarettes.

Though the method might be interesting, one cannot but recoil at the disregard of the company to public health in its bid to increase sales. The point is that promotions, when effectively carried out can give anyone an enormous sphere of influence. Sometimes even enough to make the public do things they would revolt if told normally. Think this is outrageous? Read on.

Yesterday, was watching a documentary by one Rajiv Patel on the Gujarat Riots. The file name was marked 'very disturbing'. It traces the events that happened in areas in and around Ahmedabad from February 2002. Graphic accounts and interviews of riot victims follow. It was boring after a while. The stories are the same: arsonists with cellphones and swords. After all the terrorist attacks and riots that are shown on TV, one does get detached about such events.

All of a sudden, there is Dr. Praveen Togadia on the screen addressing a rally in Ahmedabad during the riots. I had never seen his photo and was curious. He is referring to the Godhra incident and drawing analogies from the Mahabharata to a visibly enchanted audience. When he speaks of the destruction they would wreck on 'them' the public cheer and applaud. As he tells how each locality would pay for Godhra, the crowd cheers after him.

Another scene opens with teenagers waving flags in village awaiting the Chief Minister during his Gaurav Yatra (Pilgrimage for Honor). They shout into the camera: Praise God and **** the muslims. On arrival, the CM talks about how Gujarat is maligned and Gujarati people are considered as vandals by the world. 'Hence the need for this pilgrimage of honor!' he says.

If a person were thought of as a brand, actually what was happening over there may be likened to a campaign aimed at boosting brand image. Like a P&G or Colgate giving a special offer during the lean season. Stung by national criticism over the riots, Modi takes out a campaign across Gujarat to fight for Gujarati pride. Any possibility of any sound ideological rooting for such actions is laughable considering the sheer scale of damage caused. Boy, if one were hoping for some good to come out of this ideology, it would have to be a miracle like bringing heavens onto the earth.

Was it all a massive promotion campaign calculated to give personal returns ?

If the left parties are worried about large private corporations indulging in anti-people measures, they should be having stomach ulcers about these politicians who work with the entire state machinery behind them to do their marketing.

The documentary ends with a kid in school talking to the camera about his accomplishments with the alphabet. What would he become ? A soldier... definitely.

And then ? Will go shoot all muslims.

Why ? Because they use bad language.

I am a muslim, will you spare me?
There was no reply.
God save us all.

Gokulakrishnan S

1 comment:

Karthik said...

Hope that for the sake of a few peoples' revenge, races are not lost.