It has been 'keeping it simple' for so long, but now there is 'no getting away' for Tata DoCoMo. Or so it seems, going by the severe flak its latest television campaign has drawn from doctors, NGOs working with domestic servants, and even viewers.
The Advertising Standards Council of India has already received eight complaints against the mobile operator's cheeky commercials that portray doctors and domestic helps in a negative light. And a Delhi-based social organisation working for the rights of domestic workers threatens to take up the matter with the parliamentary standing committee on labour.
The new series of 13 television advertisements promoting Tata DoCoMo's network connectivity with a tagline 'no getting away'-released across national channels last week-is being criticised for "showing class bias", "cozying up to harmful social prejudices" and being indecent.
The advertising council's secretary general, Alan Collaco, says the self-regulatory industry body will take up the matter in its meeting this month. Tata DoCoMo did not respond to an email query. Draftfcb Ulka, the agency that made the commercials, says it just added humour to real-life situations.
One of the commercials shows two doctors in an operation theatre congratulating each other after a successful operation. The moment one of them is about to leave the room, he hears his mobile ring. Frantically searching for his phone, the doctor realises he has left his phone inside the patient's stomach!
In another, a maid finds a mobile phone while cleaning the house and hides it inside her blouse.
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But just as she is about to exit, the phone rings and her employer gets to know. A third one shows a parked SUV rock violently. A mobile rings and it stops.
Clearly, organisations working with domestic servants and the medical fraternity don't see anything funny in the advertisements.
"The advertisement is disgusting, disregarding and degrading. It must be banned immediately," says Kamal Chand, project manager at Domestic Workers' Forum, about the commercial featuring a domestic help .
The Delhi-based NGO plans to take up the matter with the task force committee on domestic workers and the parliamentary standing committee on labour, he adds.
Dr Kailash S Sharma, director (academics) at Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital, says the advertisement is "a brilliant example of lack of ethical principles in advertising".
Draftfcb Ulka Account Director Sudipto Poddar says there is nothing offensive in the campaign. "The story was weaved around real-life, stereotype situations, and we just added a bit of humour to it," he says.
When all the mobile service operators talk about the geographic reach of their network, it was important for DoCoMo to talk in a different manner, adds Poddar.
For the new campaign, creative directors Vasudha Misra and Ekta Verma worked on copy and art respectively while the copywriters for the campaign were Deepika Chauhan and Murtaza Said. The account planning team comprises Sanjay Tandon, Poddar, Omair Siddiqui while the film has been directed by Ram Madhvani of Equinox Films.
Poddar has some support in the advertising fraternity. Lyricist and McCann Worldgroup Executive Chairman Prasoon Joshi, for one, takes the campaign lightly. "They (the commercials) have been done in tongue-in-cheek manner, and should be taken light-heartedly," he says.
Brand expert and Brand-Comm CEO Ramanujam Sridhar goes a step further to say there is nothing objectionable in the commercials and, in fact, they are exciting and appealing to the youth. Ramanujam Sridhar CEO of brand-comm. and a Director of Custommerce.
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