Volume 3 Issue 7 - April 01, 2005

Advertising gimmick or sheer insensitivity

DNIS News Network - Creative advertising is becoming insensitive. A brief review of the Bajaj CT 100 advertisement.

Picture of the offending Bajaj advertisement

Though society and socio-political systems often overlook disability as an issue, advertising industries incorporate it in more than one way. Sadly, most of the time, advertising agencies ‘use' disability rather than represent it. Sensitivities are lost in the humdrum of competition and rivalry, and it results in glamorous, witty but crude advertising. Let us take the case of the Bajaj advertisement highlighting its new motorcycle models Discover and Pulsar. The advertisement spells out its features in the form of an optometrist's eye testing chart and is accompanied with the punch line: Now only a blind man will buy any other bike.

An official from Leo Burnett, the advertising agency that designed the advertisement, commented that the ad had to be seen in conjunction with the Hero Honda commercial. The commercial showed an actor pretending to be blind, who knew a Honda motorcycle just by feeling it. In trying to attack the rival brand, Bajaj insensitively cashed in on the visual disability aspect of the commercial and devised a new punch line to promote its products!

Feeling strongly on the same issue, Subroto Bagchi, Chief Operating Officer, MindTree Consulting, states in an article in the 7 February issue of Business World , “ What completely baffles me in all this is why the house of Bajaj had to jump into the fray with something downright offensive, in a show of competitive advertising that is below the dignity of a market leader. It speaks badly of the management of the agency that cleared the advertising line. It speaks worse of the client who cleared it without thinking about the cruelty in the so-called creativity.”

The official from Leo Burnett who was instrumental in designing the advertisement defended it saying, “It is not meant to demean anyone. All we wanted to say was that the bike has so many features, that it would be blind to buy any other. It is not a comment on any physical disability, but on customer choice and intelligence.”

All very well said, but for a sector that is battling with society for acceptance and inclusion, will such advertisements become the only mode of media recognition?

Despite repeated attempts to contact Bajaj for comments, there was nobody willing to clarify the issue. This reporter was shunted from official to official, with each one saying that they would “connect me to the ‘concerned person'.” When the call was finally connected to the “concerned person's” office, no one answered the phone.

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