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Voicing Silence 7

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Tasteless Promotions - A Contest

Recently, I came across a promotion by an Indian radio station. They were giving away pepper sprays for free in the wake of Delhi gang-rape incident and subsequent gang-rape of a journalist in Mumbai. The pepper sprays had been very catchily rebranded Mirchi Spray. The radio station is called Mirchi, pepper is Mirchi and therefore - Mirchi spray!

Women across the country were shocked by what had happened, turning hysterical and were keen to protect themselves from potential assaults. And who comes to their aid? Mirchi Spray! A woman's friend and ever-reliable in a world full of callous, brutal rapists. Mirchi spray - always at hand to protect the most vulnerable. What perfect brand synergy! Mirchi would be seen as caring, empowering and this was an ideal opportunity to promote its values.

It was as if the gods of marketing had themselves designed these gang-rapes so brands such as Radio Mirchi could piggy back on it to add more sheen to their halo. As if they hadn't been exploited enough, the women now provided the raw material for Mirchi's salvation.

In the spirit of 'Let No Tragedy Go Unexploited', I am running a contest. Here's one I thought of earlier. Imagine Nike promoting its shoes using Syrian refugees.

 Can you think of other, more tasteless brand promotions? The Holocaust? The Rwandan genocide? What about the thousands of dowry deaths that regularly get reported in our Indian newspapers but rarely grab the attention of Indian advertisers? Perhaps there's a gold mine of opportunity waiting to be tapped into.

Please get working, the more crass and exploitative, the better. Send your entries to ammania@gmail.com marking 'Ugly Brands' in your subject line. Alternatively, if you have a blog, post it there and leave a link on the comment section. You have till the end of September to send in your entries - I'm sure there will be whole lot more devastation by then for you to take advantage of. All entries will be published here and the best one will get a wholly inappropriate prize.

 Here's to more tacky brand promotions!

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