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Fickle Advertisers (Sorry, Men in Blue!)


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Preity Zinta in advertisementThe woeful effects of Team India’s dismal performance at the cricket World Cup, and the shenanigans of the BCCI in their search for a coach have begun to show results. Whichever product you turn to these days, a film star is endorsing it. Hrithik Roshan dances to the Sony Ericsson tune and learns to bake Milano biscuits just so (clever story line to match his near-Italian looks!). Amitabh Bachchan does a hilarious oily UP peon act for Navratna hair oil. Shah Rukh and Saif, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukherjee – everyone is more in evidence on TV these days, and the Dhonis, Harbahajans, Dravids and Tendulkars are getting rarer and rarer.

After the near blitz by these same cricketers just a few months ago on our small and big screens, it seems strange to think that cricketers have so quickly been relegated to the endorsement dustbin. If anything, this phenomenon only serves to underline how fickle advertisers can be – they will hype you to the skies today, bring you crashing down tomorrow.

In fact, the pushy ways of marketmen and advertisers can have a very harmful effect on the career paths of individuals. In the very formative and early stages of one’s career, one can get thrust into a near-constant limelight that projects a hundred products. Even for those with the best of intentions, this can prove to be a real nightmare. Take the case of Sania Mirza. The girl was just getting into her stride when her dimples, pierced nose and perky ponytail began getting blown up into a ‘youth icon’ image. Just a couple of years later she is showing signs of not being the ambitious, driven, focused youngster she used to be. Or Mahendra Dhoni. When he first came on to the crease, it appeared as if he had a huge appetite for the game – that he just loved to play cricket. Many endorsements later, it began to seem as if his appetite had shifted to the number of motor bikes he could accumulate with his cricket and endorsement earnings. Too big a shot of fame and money seems to impair sportspersons’ ability to perform on the field. And the advertisers who choose to peddle their products only via celebrities are truly culpable in this regard.

But do they care? Of course not. They’re sitting at this very moment in a sea of box office figures, TRP ratings, and the latest scores of some friendly cricket match being played by India against some minor UK team. The slightest hint of victory on the cricket field and they will be back, yapping at the heels of the Men in Blue once again. Smilingly convincing them to lend their names and faces, promising them of the positive fallout of the ads for their own image etc. They will wave away their recent desertion with a shrug and a murmur about ‘market forces’.

Wonder if our Men in Blue will have learnt a thing of two in their absence from the advertisers’ Eden. Fickle advertisers could certainly do with some lessons of their own…

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