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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The worst commercials on Indian Television

A few months ago, I would have told that the Pan Masala ads were the worst since they target the wrong people (my post on this). But now they have finally stopped focusing on the MBA types. At the same time, several big brands have launched a slew of poor ads. Now some ads are perennially poor: all Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bacchan, Sheweta Tiwari, Navjot Sidhu, MDH masala ads; and I wont talk about them. Here’s my list of top of the flops:
Taste the thunder: Akshay Kumar goes on top of a lighthouse by the beach, sways to call the rains, uses the Thumbs-Up bottle as a lightning conductor, and converts lightning to a cold drink. Too many scientific principles violated; why not drink the sea water instead?
Pepsi-TV: I don’t say it’s bad because of the dumb concept after a lot of drama build-up. I say it’s bad as it’s so replicable. For example one can have Khaitan-TV (fan on while watching); Durian-TV (sitting on sofa while watching TV), Rupa-TV (wearing Rupa banyan while watching TV) etc.
Voltas AC: I usually dislike ads which appeal to patriotic jingoism (running Indian for Aditya Birla Group, acquiring East India Co. for Rajnigandha). But this one beats all the other such ads. Not only does it violate many scientific principles (AC air stored in a plastic jar remaining cool over the distance and then causing a big draft when the lid is open); but also punch-lines like “India ka AC; Korea ka nai” sound very cheapo.
Hi Handsome: The Emami fairness cream for men was dumb (why go to a girl’s hostel to get the girlie cream; why not buy it from the market?); but it is one of the worst ads because of its excessive repetition during the India-England series.
Fair and Lovely Ayurvedic: A woman becomes supermodel after her father gives ayurvedic treatment. Why did the father not give her the same treatment earlier?
Boots are meant for walking: This song plays on the background for the ad for a motorcycle brand (I think Hero Honda CBZ); and it plays for long. No one bothered to check the lyrics and the pro-pedestrian sentiments in the song.
I am sure that there are a lot more to this list. Look forward to comments. By the way, the rotating ballerina of Ortem fans is back. I have seen her rotate since I was all of six years old.
P.S. Download my free ebook "Journeys with the caterpillar" from this link 


Anonymous said...

The "Boots are made for walking" features in a Pulasr-180 (Black) ad. I was so pissed with them. Took some sheen off my bike :(

Read this somewhere on net:

Q> What genre of music does Jessica Simpson belt out?
A> Porn

Q> What is diff between a Jessica Simpson video and a porn movie?
A> The latter has better music

Bombay Addict said...

Dude - have you heard ads on radio ? They run neck-to-neck with the ads you mentioned (all of which btw, are amazingly bad). There is definitely some competition for the "worst possible ad that was made" which all these ads are vying and dying for.

Shivaji said...

Now the ad for Thums up shows a footnote saying "These actions are done by professionals and should not be imitated...."
wonder which professionals make thums-up this way.

Anonymous said...

oh, definitely all the fairness creams ads - and yes fair and handsome is the worsssst. the new pepsi ads are also terrible - chico? chino? kareena kapoor and priyanka chopra. also the new car ads - cant make out one from the other...

The Marauder's Map said...

The worst ad doing the rounds now: "Bachchon mein to Tiger HIT!". The most irritating thing about it is definitely its idiocy, but the frequency with which it is repeated during the match comes close.

Another one is Airtel music shops or whatever. I mean, what's the whole deal? What IS this product? I get no clue from the ad. Plus all the people jamming to the beat gets way too monotonous. I can't wait for them to get on with it.

The new fevicol ad with the kid is fun, but i think it's time Fevicol moved beyond this concept. I like the Pepsi TV ad, though. There's something so kitschy and trashy about it, that it's actually fun. Same about Himani Navratan tel with Shah Rukh Khan. It's so absurd that it becomes interesting. PLus brand recall is high, which you sometimes cannot say about the best ads.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to see some screenshots

Anonymous said...

one of the worst ever ad i have seen shows a little girl playing basketball with guys and get scolded by her mother for playing with boys, she then brushes her teeth with and starts studying. her mother becomes happy. illogical, irrelevent, sexist.

orpat powersaver bulbs advert where tiku tulsania gets heart attack after looking at him bijli bill, then he starts jumping up and down singing "orpat aalaa re aalaa bill bijli ka kum hua lala"

and ofcourse the advert for the new indica, where 4 hotties are going to a beach and ask a guy to rub suntan lotion on them, the guy instructs them to ask around at the beach cafe for somebody else, the punchline of the advert is u gotta be dumb.

radio ads are no far behind, try listening to a cricket match commentry and u get hit by such insanities in the commercial beraks "zindagi ki crease par suraksha ke saath kheliye", "aur ye BSNL chauka connecting India, "aur ye BSNL sixer, connecting India", and one of the worst "duro singh"- for some plywood company.

dazedandconfused said...

My tolerance for ads is pretty high. You give me a pretty girl to look at and i won't be very critical.

Plus, I like the point in the Pepsi TV ad when one of the TV mechanics says, "Khula hi to hai!!". Funny. Also I like the 'Boots are meant for walking' song.

But the following two are my nominations for the best ads running currently:

1. The 'HARI SADU' ad for

2. Reliance phones ad in which the Dad comes to school to ask his kid about how to check the cricket score. The kid is amazing!!

These ads I can watch again and again and again...

Anonymous said...

whenever someone talks about bad ads, i can't stop myself from reminding them of toilet cleaner ads by aman verma....the ads had close shots of toilets and were aired at prime time which made my meals tough

Shivaji said...


Agree with you.. but it has been taken of air.

Dazed and confused:
the hari sadu ad is good; and i think all the new reliance ads are good (i lobe the Chaube one).

Also the older Bajaj ad with Indira nagar idol was good; the new one sucks

Shruthi said...

Oh yes.. the toilet cleaning ads are horrible. I also hate that Aishwarya Rai and "phusss seeti" pepsi (or is that coke?) ad.

Bald Monkey said...

Let us not forget Aishwariya Rai trying to act the streetsmart college goer in the pressure cooker mein dal ad. My god... what hamming ! The moral being -- use a coke bottle for eve-teasing !

Swathi Sambhani aka Chimera said...

i think Aman Varma's toilet cleaner Ad takes the cake for bad ads, but i also found those mobile phone ads with Kajol n Ajay Devgan very irritating esp, the one in some stupid Japanese dress.
n ya, i do hate all the Fair n Lovely ads.

never used to like the Mountain Dew ad either where the guy puts his hand inside the mouth of the animal, eeeks ...

Shivaji said...


Thanks... how could i miss the Mountain Dew ads...

Anonymous said...

#1. "These boots are meant for walking,
And that's what just they'll do;
One of these days these boots are gonna
Walk all over you"
: I was humming this song for quite sometime - enough for brand recall? I'll give it to Pulsar, cos it had everything for its target audience - adventure, good music, nice storyline, and of course, a girl who's impressed. ""Fear the Black" remains in memory due to the guy's dressing, and his sunglasses, though the guy in brown should be decoded as bike in 'any other colour')

#2. Thums Up: I thot the AK ad gave the idea of "Taste the Thunder" more literally than any of its ancestors - and the adventure, girl and celebrity face formula was impeccably in place. Add to that the stupid biker BGM that goes "you gotta do what you gotta do" and it becomes exactly the ad for the cola with the biggest fizz - but, for one thing: the blue tone for the commercial - quite soft for an adventure story (though a welcome change from the earlier sepias). I'd have preferred a greenish yellow tint, but that's a personal choice.

#3. Pepsi TV: maybe the USP of the ad is replicable, but the point is, no one has said it before. And even if someone does now, that would become a back handed compliment which adds to Pepsi TV recall. Though dumb, it's fun - as all pepsi ads postion themselves to be. And it creates that new catch phrase - Pepsi TV. Smart enough for sales - any, any day better than the seeti of Ash (though I watch the ad for her).

P.S.: I love the folk tune on Limca and the graphics - I actually bought a Limca after so many years.

The Zayed Khan Mirinda ad is also fun, but the Fanta ad where Rani Mukherji only supporting the mise en scene, scores above it.

Mountain Dew was intersting for the first dekho, but then, like they say - kal kuch (intersting) zaroor karna hai.

#4. "India ka A/C, Korea ka nahin" sounds Ok positioning, cos we regularly associate cheap products with China and Korea, but I don't expect anyone to make an A/C purchasing decision based on patriotism. Pride is the essential message ("a TATA product") - if that's the only USP, boy, am not buying it.

#5. Emami cream ad is bad, period. Forget the fact that Padamsee (supposedly) developed it. (Though commenting without knowing its impact on sales is bad)

#6. The Kareena Kapoor - Priyanka Chopra - MS Dhoni Pepsi Cappuccino ad was truly kinky: it had great appeal and style. I'd have tried the product.

#7. Tiger Biscuts: The ad seemingly works, becos it delivers the (although annoying) message in 3 or 4 secs flat, Which helps its airtime fee. Ask your younger bro or son about its impact: I think they'll buy it.

#8. Speaking of sound tracks, the best one is from that Fevicol ad - simply Superb. Maybe it's time Fevicol moved away from the big idea; but who cares, it works!

#9. The Airtel Music shop - yup, they don't exactly get the idea across very well, though they do that about the signature tune. A bit cerebral.

#10: The Oprat powersaver bulb thingi is yuck - I actually used to switch channels when it came on, but now, it looks so kitchy that I dervive a certain pleasure from an occasional indulgence.

#11. the prize for the worst ad: there are two contentors - both are Govt ones though. One is the Jaago series: shot & edited sooooooooooo amaturely, that it looks like a student video - maybe it actaully is. But interstingly it breaks stereotypes by casting chinky faces as the main leads, unheard of on Indian TV - or more realistically, beacuse it was shot by some student in the North East.

Tthe other is the BSNL series: "Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak..." If those guys have the funds to air the ads so often, why coudn't they use some common sense and get them shot nicely? Why be cheap on the production? Why don't people change?

#12. But the grand prize for complete waste of airtime (the ad is around 40 secs) production costs (the number of dancers and the funny costume and art direction) and being so cerebral (that it takes multiple viewing to decode the message) goes to Royal Challenge "Now This Is Good" soda or water, whaterver that comes int hat green bottle. Good idea, but badly visualised.

And sorry for this long post, and too when am unintroduced. Just couldn't resist - apologies...

SwB said...

I'd say the worst are the mint/chewing-gum ads - Top prize goes to Orbit White (animal specialist - cow with shiny whith teeth)

Then the one which has two girls on a swing - where the skinny guy sits one a bench behind the fat babe's swing and gets it to go with only his fresh breath!

Mirinda's "Karo mouth ka good use" is another very bad one!

There are lots more ... the ones you mentioned are definitely not the worst!

Anu said...

My favourite ad these days;

Wagon R, from Investment banking to Adventure tourism...

The worst I think was Aman Verma one, I agree it made the dinner tough...

Anonymous said...

My current favourite has to be the Mentos ad in the hair cutting saloon.

The Rani Mukherjee Fanta ad has to be the very worst that has aired on TV for some time now.

Anonymous said...

My fav rite now is the HappyDent White ad where the guy uses his teeth as a camera flash!

Worst is the Fair and handsome ad. The guy acts and looks like a total looser. :(

Musings that Amuse

One in the crowd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
One in the crowd said...

Bollywood takes a beating...the worst is the Pepsi TV crap and the Coke ad...I am pissed about Coke not because of the concept but for the only reason that Aish is supposed to be 16 in the ad... now who would believe that?

Vasu the terrible said...

We had the very same discussion a few weeks back...

I have two nominations...

The worst ad.

1) Hyundai accent "Respect comes naturally". Its classist, elitist and frankly offends me so much that I would never buy hyundai ever.. What the hell are they thinking. Its degrading human dignity and propogating a stereo type.

2) Best Ad. Mumbai mirror. appears on times now. "Cut the motherfucking rapists balls... Cut the bullshit"...

That ad is impactful, positions mumbai mirror as a solid magazine giving you the stuff untampered and without fundas. The way people want to read and know whats happening around.

I have seen almost everyone claiming that. NDTV, CNN-News, Times now.. etc. but none have made a more striking one than this mumbai mirror beauty... Times now sucks big time... esp.. when that dude says, "I gave birth to quadraplets"... made me think of arnold in one of his lunatic abberations and made me puke. That ad was lame.


Aparna S Mallya said...

I completely agree with Vasu. 'I just gave birth to quadruplets' and 'I just died' made me squirm.

The 'Orbit' ad is pathetic as well. 'Man is a social animal' or some crap. The Happy Dent ad on the other hand is awesome and beautifully thought.

I like the Airtel ads doing the rounds nowadays. 'Some voices move a nation'- that one. Beautiful words with relevant visuals. I'm almost happy to see the ad - it has an amount of freshness about it.

The ad where the kiddo teaches his dad abt mobile phones is also great.

Shivangi Misra said...

How did everyone forget the gem of an ad about Paragon chappals?? "Paragon lagu"!!! Beats me. Why?

powerslave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
powerslave said...

Although I am impressed by your your observation of the "pro-pedestrian" view-point in the pulsar 180 black ad, there could just be another symbolism.. "..walk all over you.."

But who cares, Jessica Simpson sucks. :D

And as a thumbrule, motorcycle ads should come with related music only!

Anonymous said...

Its insane to complain about the orbit white ad. Anyone with a whacky sense of humor would like it. The worst of the lot is the DCABs (read Desi chasing american bait)in appy fizz.looking like they slipped right out of dude wheres my car. S o pseudo... it reeks.

Anonymous said...

when we talk of good ads..TOI makes a lot of sense where grandson qualifies 4 a hockey team which granfather was nt able shows that newspaper brings you both good n bad messages

Anonymous said...

hmmm...but the song is nice, hi handsome..hi handsome:)

Anonymous said...

well i completely agree with vintage on the pulsar ad.Now thats one ad i wont mind seeing again n again.n hey i love that song plus i m a fan of muzammil ibrahim .how can any1 change channels when he is on

Kidd said...

i beg to differ from this saltwarets guy.. as i think orbit white has an awesome ad. that is if u are old enough to appreciate silly humour which actually is pretty hilarious. old favs inclue the ericsson mobile 'one black coffee please' ad and the fevicol ads including 'bus' n hen' etc..

Anonymous said...

Most ads for shampoos make the females yank their hair or pull something heavy. Why would any sane lady wish to subject her hair to such treatment, unless she was a masochist? Perhaps beauty experts think yanking hair is a scientific test.

The stupidest ads are the ones from industrial groups which promise to change the world – AV Birla, for instance. Characters out of an esoteric art class fly around and dip around in ethereal surroundings, morphing from an adonis to a nymph and then a unicorn. While it may be exciting to make, and allow the bubble-headed boss to revel in his world of make-believe, it says absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

Some agencies start for innovation, where as some start to create havoc in the field of creativity. Here is one such agency:

Meet THiNK IMC - Bangalore
I've found that wherever there is one cockroach in plain sight, many more are lurking behind the corner out of view...

Sumit said...

That as where that women rubs her hand on the toilet pot to prove it is germ free.. yukk.. GROSS !!

suresh said...

An extremely obscure line runs between funny & absurd. If one traces the line,the directed fun converts into absurdity!

OSr Group said...

I love these screenshots.
Plywood Manufacturer in India

Unknown said...

Don't you feel the need at times to smash your TV because of the terrible ads that keep playing?
Here are 10 of the worst...

Digestive Pyrotechnics said...

Another silly, silly ad by Dove, can't stop laughin!

ADS said...

Worst advt seems the 5* chocolate, only the recent of robbery seems a bit watching but if u hv seen the previous rubbish

Danishsingh said...

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