Take a Lesson from Advertising

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Siang dipendam, malam balas dendam. This is Indonesian for “(the urge) repressed during the day, take a revenge at night”. The sentence in large letters was plastered in outdoor banners, nearly in every corner of Indonesia, a few years ago. The background for this sentence is scattered dirty cups, plates, bowls, all kinds of food containers resembling a big feast. The ad was broadcasted during Ramadhan, the month of fasting for Moslem. Bingo! We knew exactly what the ad means. It quips us, the Moslems, who generally implementing fasting only as preventing ourselves from eat, drink, and intercourse during daylights.  And, as maghrib (the dusk) comes, we hastily and greedily take a revenge. We eat all, drink all. A smart and precise satire.

By: Achmad Supardi

This ad had sparked uncomfortable feeling among a small chunk of Moslem. They were not happy that the ad using Ramadhan (the fasting month) as the context which closely related to Islamic teaching. Fasting during Ramadhan is one of Islam’s 5 pillars. According to the group, any ad should avoid any religious background/context to avoid misunderstanding and creating offence.

Luckily, the objection of this group was not last long, nor had surfaced widely. However, we can draw two lessons from this.

First, there were more and more creative ads produced. This type of ads is not only good to promote a product or strengthen the brand image of a product, but also share “something” to the audience who watched, heard, or read the ads.

A Mild ads occupied the top ranks of these critical yet interesting ads. Remember the ad which exhibits a motorist who awkwardly turns her head left, then right, observing whether there were police or not. When she convinced that there were no police, she immediately take a turn in a no-turn spot. However, she was wrong. Out of nowhere, the police suddenly stop her. The police were disguised as trees, just like U.S. soldiers on the battlefield of Vietnam. His position was not in a position to manage the traffic, but rather to “lurk”, awaiting reckless drivers who violate the traffic rules.

Two criticisms expressed intelligently through this ads. First, the ad precisely portray the habit of most Indonesians who really hard to obey traffic rules. It seems that we are always tempted to violate the traffic signs. When the officer asked why the driver violated the rule, she replied, “I saw nobody.” What else can be any better?

Yes, we feel free to violate any rules as long as there is no officer in place.

Secondly, it slaps the face of our police department. It is a open secret that many –if not most of the—police officers prefer to play a peek-a-boo in order to have their tickets disbursed. They know exactly that most of the traffic offenders will ask for an exemption by giving them some cash. It is an attractive yet easy-to-discern ad.

I do believe that my fellow Indonesians are also aware of another ad from A Mild. The ad exhibits a very typical stodgy superior who dressed his young and energetic employee to be completely looks like him. We know exactly the message of this ad. A lot of older generations in our society do not trust the younger ones, and even pressed them to be as conservative as they are.

Besides the two ads, there were newer ads depicting a young female tour guide whose explanations always been ignored by the tourists she guided. Every time she spoke, the tourists pretend to fall asleep, even snoring. The smart young tour guide then realized that the tourist she faced were old generations who only respect their similars. She then asked the driver –as old as the tourists—to lip-synching her explanation. And, walla! All the tourists heed the driver’s ‘explanation’.

Those ads –including the one about fast-breaking– obviously use criticism and satire as their main medium to convey message. Therefore, the second lesson is that we should thank smart people behind these types of ads. Misunderstanding these types of ads is not only unnecessary, but also embarrassing. (*)

Pictures taken on November 25th 2012 from http://www.inijie.com/2007/10/11/brilliant-a-mild-advertisement/ and http://heyindranota.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/a-mild-iklan-yang-saya-nilai-jujur/

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