Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Indian Ads, Hidden Codes - Part 2: Complan versus Horlicks

"Is it true that Complan makes kids grow faster (than Horlicks)?" A mother with a somewhat lopsided jaw wonders. It bugs her so much she decides to check it out for herself.

But since she isn't the only one with phaltu time on her hands, she goes out and collects a bunch of other "concerned" (aka "good") mothers like herself. All of them march (really, I mean it) towards The Center for Health and Nutrition (or something like that). In a scene reminiscent of the zombie classic Dawn of the Dead, the mothers storm under the sign and through the gates of the Center.

An official looking doctor greets them. How could I tell? Well for one he's wearing a white lab coat - a sure sign of celluloid Ph.D. The man is a bit young and unrealistically well groomed to be a doctor - even by Indian TV standards. The man raises both hands to pacify the mob of mothers.

"We've done SCIENTIFIC tests" he assures the mothers. "We gave one group of kids Complan and another group of kids that other drink. And we found that the kids who drank Complan grew TWICE as much as the other kids"

While the doctor is talking, we are shown scenes of doctors measuring the height of kids. And because this is a scientific test, the kids' heights are measured while they are still wearing their shoes. Guess which set of kids came in wearing particularly thick soles, heh heh.

Later the concerned mother mugs at the camera and joyously announces: "Get ready for your kids to grow twice as fast!" She rests her chin theatrically and lovingly on her son's shoulders - reminding me of several nutty scenes from this legendary movie.

This Ad is really talking to:
  • Bad Moms who aren't paying enough attention to their kids
  • Working Moms who have chosen their career over their kids growing twice as fast
  • Really competitive Moms ("Your Babloo plays guitar? Mine can play the national anthem on a trombone!")
  • Scientifically inclined people
  • Fans of the newly resurgent Zombie zeitgeist
(Sorry no video of ad, this included picture is from another, older ad of same campaign)

37 comments:

Deepa said...

I cannot tell you how much I dislike this ad.. One of the worst ever.. And I hate how, when the cost of the two brands is compared, the kid using Horlicks says - atleast we have the bigger number here.. I mean how desperate can you get to sell your product.. If I ever had to use energy drinks, I will buy Horlicks just to spite Complan.. grrrrrrrr.........

Anonymous said...

No, I think this ad is for moms who teach value to kids, if there is a double coupon go for that product you will get taller any way, but this way you will save some money doing it too!!! I agree though, ads in India need some help. Great write up Aspi, maybe next leap to helping the ad industry, what say thou??

Aspi said...

Deepa, too bad Horlicks tastes like crap. Or am I the only one who used to get turned off by having elaichi in my morning milk? Fortunately, Complan isn't too far off - actually its amazing how kids will drink anything as long as it has lots of sugar in it. Case in point: Glucose-D.

Karthik S said...

If you're complaining about this ad, then you haven't seen the new Lifebuoy ad! It claims to have made one change to all the kids in Building A vs Building B for one year and post that 'experiment' Building A kids go regularly to school, are more healthy...you get the drift. I'd be thinking they made the change with something that went inside the kids - seems they changed the soap! Crap!

meena said...

'..grow twice as much?' This sounds very scientific but is this really actionable for false advs- its one of those things that sound precise but hazy as you get close like the 3 out 4 dentists recommending trident thing :)
..anyway is there some kind of regulation on the info presented by these ads or is it open season on the consumer?

meena said...

btw aspi have you checked out any desi infomercials? I saw an episode of telesky? shopping on sony or zee one quiet weekend morning and almost spilled my chai on myself :)

Aspi said...

I don't believe there is any enforcing of truth in advertising in India, but not sure. Heck, things are dicey even in the US (how about those 100% Juice, Blueberry that are 5% Blueberry and 95% Apple?)

Why I once had a hilarious conversation with the guy involved in the "Oxyrich - now with 30% more oxygen" campaign. Oxyrich is bottled water.

I DID see an infomercial in India. About a belt you could wear that would heat up and "burn" your calories away.

Miss Malini said...

"Your Babloo plays guitar? Mine can play the national anthem on a trombone!"

hahaha love it :) Aspi you write fantastically.

Anonymous said...

I like elaichi in my milk, it reminds me of the milk from the street corner. The guy who boils it for 20hrs puts elaichi along with some flies that help themselves...I thought malai marka was good milk, nahi Aspi??

musical said...

Nice analysis, Aspi!

But the ad is really UGH! And i just can not stop laughing at "growing twice as much", like we are talking about some gajar-moolis here! For teh records, i haven't had ANY of these energy drinks, EVER, in my entire life ;). Plus i hate all ads that name the competitor. I have one point though, i don't think this ad will appeal to the scientifically inclined. The demographic this actually will appeal to is, the sorts who would blindly accept anything that goes with the tag "scientificaly tested" :).

Aspi said...

Maybe Horlicks should try putting some flies in their powder then.

musical, I was kidding about that scientifically inclined. I mix and match sarcasm with seriousness because I'm so bored with outright sarcasm. In a few years, it'll be an art form, mind you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aspi
Never commented here before but this one just made me!
I absolutely hate this ad for it reinforces our new found attributes of 'good appearance' i.e. being tall. We Indians are of a specific gene where we cannot grow taller than the average and if this particular drink really did make people taller then all the new gen kids would be taller than normal.
G

Anonymous said...

Aara Aspi, your sarcasm with seriousness, it is still an artform !!

Aspi said...

Anon, welcome. You are telling me this ad has shades of the Fair & Lovely Goebbels-like campaign. Brilliant!

musical said...
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musical said...

Further proof that i am challenged in the humor and sarcasm departments ;).

Mind Rush said...

Great use of phaltu time! You missed your calling as a social science professor.
About the increased height---there is something called "clinically significant difference." If Little Babloo grows by 1 mm and Big Babloo grows by 2 mm, there is double growth but does it make a significant difference overall???

Really, there should be some agency to oversee truth in advertising. And another agency to regulate boredom in advertising!

Sunny Paaji said...

Oye, chaddi banyan ki ad karne mein harj kya hai? You people are all metric pass and think you are the greatest? People like us are not good enough for you?!

Priya said...

and of course, you are only qualified to discuss any of these complan vs. horlicks virtues if you have a son.

daughters not allowed...

Deepa said...

Young Shahid Kapoor: I am a complan boy ...

Young Ayesha Takia: I am a complan girl ...

So Priya, some allowance is allowed for girls.. But only after the complan boy has had his say :P

Aspi: I loveeeeee elaichi in my milk.. I am an Everest milk masala addict :D Actually even MTR milk masala will do :P Or does one have more quality of life enhancing properties than the other????

Deepa said...

And I should have added 'scientifically proven' quality of life enhancing properties :P

Aspi said...

This is one thing I love about India: everything is a masala - even stuff you put in milk. I just bought some kesar doodh masala on my last trip back home. Fabulous stuff!

Maybe I just got grossed out with elaichi in Horlicks. I use a lot of it in tea.

While we are on this topic - I remember trying to dissolve Horlicks or Complan in anything less than 100C hot milk was impossible. It would coagulate and I had to spend half an hour smearing the damn thing to the sides of the cup to get it to dissolve. How about doing some scientific research on THAT, Complan?

Anonymous said...

Aspi, there is scientific research on that, it is called 'BLENDER', you should try it some time!
As for Masala, apna desh is all about masala. Masala dudh, masala chai, masala pakora, masala biryani, masala movies, and hence we arrive on to drift masala.....

Aspi said...

Quite true - this is like how everything in the US was a war a few years ago. The war on drugs. The war against terrorism. The war against cancer.

Anonymous said...

War against war!!!, you are right in many way desh seems to be like, 'as seen in US off A'

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is whether mothers in India have given up on Horlicks as the *only drink* for kids recuperating from any and all childhood ailments...growing up, milk was banned anytime I had an asthma attack...Horlicks won out then simply because it could be mixed in water...still have a visceral reaction to the smell/taste of ANY Horlicks as a result.

Unfortunately, my kids discovered the joys of Horlicks powder mixed with sugar, and insist on buying the horrible thing now.

Bitterlemons

Anonymous said...

Shahid was a complan boy?Now thats a living proof that Complan doesn't really help anyone get taller.

Aspi said...

Anon, that is frickin' brilliant!

I think Horlicks should now make this ad.

INTERIOR - ROOM. POSTERS OF BEBO ON THE WALL. SHAHID SITS ON BED HALF IN SHADOWS

Shahid: I used to be a Complan boy. My mother said it would make me grow taller.

CAMERA PULLS AWAY

Shahid (stands up): Look at me now.

Voiceover: Agar Horlicks nahi piyoge to gattuman hi reh jaoge

Deepa said...

Anon, this one's for you :D

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/yt-t-fysFHfBYM/complan_commerical_old_shahid_kapoor_and_ayesha_takia/

There is some debate about whether the boy is actually Shahid Kapoor. To me he looks like SK albeit a chubby one..

Deepa said...
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Leera said...

Just as annoying as the Lifebuoy 'scientific case study' ad.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ...that's funny Aspi.Some one at Horlicks should be reading this and see if Shahid is available to do it.

Deepa,thx for the link.
hmmm,the boy doesn't look like Shahid to me.

Deepa said...

And here's one more link that Horlicks should perhaps look at (see the last lines) :D

http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/features/2008/07/09/4064/index.html

Deepa said...
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Deepa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teddy said...

Anyone seen the "informercial" astrological ads on tv with Alok Nath pulling his best wise old masterji act? Those are sickening. Buy your birthstone ring from us, and all will be well.

Recently one of those informercials even had a very righteous-wrath-filled panditji scolding a "viewer" who had sent in her janam kundli. Rahu in the ascendant! The pandit thundered, and that too with Mars!!! Atyant haanikarak for a woman. Makes her too ambitious and not inclined to be properly submissive.

I thought mom was watching Comedy Circus, but it was not supposed to be funny. The pandit meant every word.

Aspi said...

Now I remember - I saw an informercial in India about "special gemstones" starring Bejan Daruwala as the pundit. Only they kept pronouncing his name Be-jaaan - not a good sign for someone shilling stones for a good life.