The pandemic and the ad-man

 It is said that adversity exposes the best and the worst in a man. This one is vastly different. Totally one-sided, cruel, indolent, encompassing the innocent, besides striding ahead of all science we know about ourselves and supposedly the world around.

What was so far considered as innocuous life-habits, preference of basic necessities, brand or non-brand-related, is also unravelled if one goes by the category of and frequency of FMCGs that come up as a pile-up of 2-3 min “breaks” in high TRP programmes.

The top category you see if at least 12 brands of digestive masalas, each having made enough business to occupy the visual space. The first impression was that, after the demise of the “Lalaji”, the king of digestive masalas, quite a few scrambled to set-up their own brands. The innovator of the “M……” group, to a large extent played on the psychology of the Punjabi mind. The rest of the North naturally takes over. The golden caption was, “Sach, Sach!”. In Punjabi written or spoken words do not accrue legal validity, unless the word “Sach, or truth” is repeated twice, only one less than a judicial oath. So up came brands as “Rajesh, Rakesh, Surbhi, Bhavna, Red Chili………). Since this article is on the lighter, less noticed side of human habits that stand firm, even in drastic and uncertain adversity, it may not be confused with brand building, or over shadowing. Just notice, what may be a man or woman’s third or fourth last wish.

I cannot set aside a close second option for substances that settle gastric juices. For those confined to WFH, or the unfortunate innocent on a complete lay-off, the Pavlovian conditioning can’t be ignored. What was here forth a weekly whiff of appetite stimulation on Sundays, may have become, a four-time event during the day, with desserts, a drink or two by the end of the day. Some compulsion might have come from the routine slip from WFH dos’ and don’ts, by Mr Prasad, the CEO’s secretary, instructing ,”two square meals a day”. He is being generous. A single meal in Bheguserai, is in fact a “square meal”. One may concede that WFH, leading to excessive consumption of unmatched items, could be the cause of the burp in these gastric supplements.

The next two categories, are almost a tie if you take the average advertisement of the 7 or 8 standard channels. In all probably related to the first category described, are toothpastes and mouth cleansers. The Covid gene chain known to park in the palate and nasopharynx, (from where they take the RT-PCR, it makes sense in creating an antiseptic environ around it) The previous USP for toothpastes was bad breath, and acts that deter further intimacy. With social distancing a cardinal dictate, I believe a certain brand that hit the Bill-Boards, may have to re-enter the fray, with captions as, “ a two minute “Cl——up” assures you a day’s social distance. The only hitch is that suspecting spouses shall smell the change. Fine, make one for women. Buy one, get one free till the suspicions fade.

Coming to the equally competitive utility item, is men’s undergarments, mostly the lower ones. In gentlemanly language, purposed to cover their modesty. A popular model hits a six, and then stretches the frontline. I wonder whether the fabric, its expansibility, or the elasticity of the waistband is what is being compared. Would ask for apologies, because on my maternal side, this is a sacred piece of garment. But let me state, the “phirangi” under-wears described, are considered un-auspicious. The parameters, for the authentic ones have already been given. Period.

The lead in terms of volumes as well revenues is perhaps taken by the “Paan Masalas”. There is this guy who leaves at dawn to climb the mountains to collect lime, herbs, fresh early morning dew, essence of rare flowers. That is the essential base material. I believe there must be tons of tobacco at the base camp. Whether that is added in minimal amounts for the flavour, or restricted for display as per government rules, is not clear.

You have a game of Polo in perfect Rajasthan surroundings, and a jockey is prevented from toppling.  The drain in energy is pinched from a pan masala pouch.

Yet another one, after some work in tinkering his car, drives off in a Rolls’.

Just as German cars set the accessory of a beer cabinet in the dashboard, other brands may have an AI operated Pan Masala pouch, metered to order the right amount, humidity, extra additives, and roll it out when you have time to reach the nozzle. Afterall, the expressway, the car, and a speed nearing 120km/hr have to be taken into account.

What is a bit scary, is that kitchenware, spoons, spades and frying pans are being marketed by a very respectable chef of the country– mixers grinders not excluded. Is this a veiled suggestion that with the shift of roles as WFH, the man may only get his abridged salary after the lady certifies his co-operation in household matters, particularly in cooking.

I know many friends who say cooking is a pleasure. Relieves stress. But for occasions as bachelor parties, how often do they do it! Kenya, I know has a Wednesday ritual of “men’s day out”, but you have to show some merit in long-distance running to join the club. I am sure many more shall join the keep away group, on the premise that after all the kick lies in the “toast”.

In a rather promising sector, “Home delivery”, Jio-mart is catching -up. So is Amazon, with Flip cart and the Future’s group. Some still aligning, into existing segments, or with a partnership to run under a flag, akin to bank mergers.

Steel rods particularly for civil structuring, are on the screen, with the strong backing of the indefatigable Mr Bachchan. That’s is a great match of man, the stuff, and the use.

Just saw coolers coming in, and ceiling fans, and the un-imaginable bliss they give.

So, more or less, one knows what you shall do this summer!

“fasāna-e-shab-e-ġham un ko ik kahānī thī 

kuchh e’tibār kiyā kuchh na e’tibār kiyā “     Daag

(The story of grief of parting in the evening, was a fable for them,

 I believed in part of it, and part of it I could not rely on)



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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