Sunday, January 1, 2017


                                                        Inline image 2

Nawabs, Nudes, Noodles by Ambi Parameswaran; Published by  Pan Macmillan India ; Pages 301; Price Rs 599 /-


Do advertisements influence our behaviour?. Ads keep us enlightened about what is the latest in the and this certainly has an impact  on our thinking and behaviour. Advertising is a legitimate, intelligent, creative, lucrative and respected profession filled with all kinds of people with  a variety of  qualifications. The author  Ambi Parameswaran,  former CEO and executive director , FCB Ulka, has over 35 years of industry experience. He is a Consultant and teaches at IIM Calcutta. His clients hail from the healthcare, food retail and consumer products space.

This is Ambi's eighth book; previous titles include 'For God's Sake' , 'Strategic Brand Management'  , 'Ride the Change: A perspective on the Changing Indian Consumer, Market and Marketing', 'Building Brand Value: Five Steps to Building Powerful Brands'

Ambi  now takes us all on an exquisite sojourn with the help of amusing stories. He unravels the mystique surrounding our advertising campaigns and provides answers to many riddles in the world  of  advertising . Society undergoes a rapid change  which gets reflected and often acts as a catalyst to further  change . This becomes evident as one reads the book.

Ambi offers  a fast paced record of the campaigns connected with Ads for over half a century. A beginner was the “Complete Man” from  Raymond and the latest controversial is Maggie Noodles. Then there was the court-embroiled pictures in the nude of  Milind Soman and  Madhu Sapre. Ambi  claims that he has taken around 20 weekends to complete this book – but obviously you can glimpse the result of a lifetime of observation. Ambi  has brought between the covers of a book chronicles of advertising trends of the past 50 years.

 Ambi discusses several ad campaigns that were popular, the censorship caused by excess precaution  of Doordarshan and a Censor Board only too willing to wield the scissor ; One cannot forget  the Emergency and the Liberalisation phases.

The book is divided into four major sections. The first three cover People, Products and Services, while the fourth section called Ad Narratives, deals with the role of in ads, the resort to  English / Hinglish, and the demon  of censorship.  Successful slogans are used for headings of different chapters. “I am a Complan Girl!” covers the role of children in advertisements, and speaks of the “pester power” of children. A chapter titled “The [In] Complete Man” reveals the “Completed”  Man of the ’70-80s: suiting fabrics, cigarettes, shoe polish, bathing soap, tooth-powder . It shows the transformation of  the macho image into  caring man who plays his role in  household activities. The revolution was in the altered role of women in advertisements.

What the book succeeds is to give the reader a rare peek into the mysterious creative world of advertising by one who is at once a creator and a watcher in the wings. A good, enjoyable, nostalgic ride down 50 golden years of advertising.

Sections deal with consumer types, key product categories and services; the book confronts India's frequently conflicted, sometimes uncomfortable but always ongoing tryst with modernity

In this book we are treated to the genesis of many of the Adventures which will include a few of your favourites. There are some hilarious tales of ads that almost never made it to the screens .

The book offers a ring side seat at the creation of some of the best Ads we have seen. Ambi throws open  a window to changing consumer landscape through iconic ad campaigns released over the past 50 years

Bajaj Scooter  was the star attraction during  the Seventies and Eighties. Hamara Bajaj made the readers proud and cleverly was sales yoked to the patriotic call. Similar feelings were generated by  Jo Biwi Se Kare Pyaar for Prestige pressure cooker and Lalita-ji for Surf. Social consciousness led to enhanced sales and feeding of emotional instinct. Amul ads celebrated the milk cooperative movement as Tata Tea’s Jaago Re tackled corruption. Marketing aided creation of social consciousness. The book lays emphasis on planning and proper research that has resulted in acting as a great booster for extraordinary creativity.

The depiction of women in advertising has changed dramatically over the years, notes Ambi. Santoor is a case in point. It has been able to capture the mood of Indian women through the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. While the brand has retained the ‘mummy’ gimmick, the Santoor woman has gone on to learn aerobics, play cricket, become a photographer and television anchor, etc.  While advertising has tried to capture the changing shades of the Indian woman, the average soap/toothpaste/shampoo ad still presents women in gender-defined roles.

Ambi declares “Advertising often has to marry rational promise with an emotional one.”

 The book  can be viewed as an erudite treatise on how Indians market goods and services to fellow Indians in a changing world. Advertising is presented as earnest and lively business which deserves serious contemplation.


18 / 12 / 2016

No comments: