Advertisements need to be sensitive about health and environment issues
A recent advertisement by a popular mobile phone manufacturer has raised hackles among the medical fraternity. And with reason. The advertisement shows an expectant mother holding the cell-phone to her body, to enable the would-be father hear the pre-natal cooings of the little one. Great advertisement, one might think. But what about the health implications? When world over questions are being raised over the electromagnetic waves generated by cell-phones, so much so that one is discouraged from carrying them in shirt pockets, here we are exposing an unborn child to them. The medical fraternity is justifiably perturbed over this advertisement. Didn't the advertising agencies even pause to think of what they were trying to say? Or were they so blind to the health effects that scientists have been warning about?
Advertisements are meant to sell. So what if they trample upon sensitive issues of health and environment. Going by a spate of recent advertisements, this appears to be the norm rather than the exception now. Take for instance the Surf clip that shows a group of picnickers having no qualms about flinging harmful detergents full of phosphates into the pristine river water. At a time when we are acutely aware of the need to clean our water bodies, not only is this multinational company promoting its (phosphate rich) product but also advocating pollution. Or consider the skimpily clad Liril girl in the middle of a desert provoking a group of women to fling their precious water at her. Are the village people so dumb as to waste water that they have trudged miles to fetch? But above all, what message do these advertisements give? One wonders whether the people who make these advertisements have any perception of the world around them. Or else is it a case of having a one-point agenda to promote the product, environment and health be damned?
It is time that the country's advertisement council sets up a strict code of conduct to guide advertisement agencies. They need to have more knowledge about environment and health issues. They must certainly be checked from sending the wrong signals. If one ad is justified in the name of market forces, so is the other. It is all the more a matter of concern that it is the vulnerable younger generation that is attracted more by this business of ad-sell.
In this age of free market, let us sell. But let us not barter away our future in this rush to 'sell'.
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