Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Defining a Khaane wali cheez (Day 9: UBC July 2013)

The Kurkure Tedha hai par mera hai ad campaign has recently released a new ad, one that I take strict objection to. You must have seen it.

It shows a man (Kunal Kapoor) sitting with a noticeably spurious looking packet of chips, with the words, Rs 5, but no brand name, emblazoned on the pack. When his wife (Parineeti Chopra) asks him what he is eating, he indicates with a shrug that it is not worth talking about. She then offers him a phone, saying the signal is weak, but the phone itself will be crunchy. The sister-in-law offers him some wheat grass, adding that it is very fresh. He asks them if it is a khanewali cheez (read: something worth eating). The wife reiterates that if he is spending Rs 5, it had better be on a khanewali cheez. She proceeds to offer him a Rs 5-priced packet of Kurkure. He pulls the first chip out, and is completely blown away, energized at the sheer goodness of Kurkure compared to the supposedly non-edible non-branded packet of chips he was earlier eating.

There are some subliminal messages being spread here. An attempt is being made to sneak in chips, correction Kurkure, into the food pyramid, to imbue an empty calorie-filled snack with connotations of health and goodness.

Had they tried to extol the virtues of Kurkure in the fun department, had they tried to make it look like a great thing to take along on a picnic or a day at the beach, I would have had no objection, provided the khanewalas (eaters) in question remembered to dispose of the empty pack in the nearest bin. But this is going too far.

Everyone knows how highly addictive chips are. A rival brand even has the well-known tagline, No one can eat just one.

Given the fact that they are so addictive and unhealthy to boot, I find the new campaign very disturbing indeed. Because what the company is trying to do is to get consumers to shed whatever guilt, if at all, they feel about eating these chips. In describing chips as khanewali cheez, the company is trying to, in a way, legitimise the consumption of chips, and make us, as conscientious parents, feel good about buying them and giving them to our kids and eating them ourselves.

According to them, not only is Kurkure a khanewali cheez, it is also, in a world of soaring prices and rising inflation, available for only Rs 5, making it affordable and accessible.

These are disturbing trends, given the fact that children as young as 8 and 10 years old are now suffering from cholesterol and obesity issues. Not only are we encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle upon our kids, who are in any case not expending too much energy on the playground (what playground?), we are also exposing them to an unhealthy future. 
Better let them know now that the packet of chips, whether Kurkure or Lays or any of the other brands, are not khanewali cheez.

Far from it.








(This post was written for Parentous, an online community for parenting-related issues.)











29 comments:

  1. Agree junk food like chips are very addictive . Whatever the ads say, w consumers have to exercise caution and pass it on to the next generation too. I doubt if Parineeti will ever eat this high calorie stuff.

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  2. Agree completely with all the points that you have raised. Such ads are very damaging when we are trying to instill healthy eating habits in kids. The children TV channels run these ads the entire day and no wonder the kids are so influenced by these that whatever you may say or do, a kid's heart is in having these unhealthy foods only. Hate these ads which propagate/give wrong messages!

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  3. I agree, Kalpana. But the chips and the ad do work their combined magic. I see so many people muching on packaged chips on the daily commute. Little do they realise what harm they are doing to their own bodies. And yes, you are right. Most stars think nothing of peddling stuff they wouldn't be caught dead using.

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  4. I agree, Shilpa, and there are so many such ads, and they all make these snacks appear healthy and ideal for growing children.

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  5. Thanks for the article. Advertising does influence our buying, eating and health habits among many other things. There is nothing wrong with junk food in moderation and learning about healthier lifestyle choices.

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  6. Absolutely well said, Liz. Everything in moderation, and nothing in excess is a good rule to adopt when it comes to eating. I try to talk to my daughter about the ads she watches on TV so that she understands exactly what the ads are all about and how they are trying to influence her.

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  7. So true Cynthia. Chips are so unhealthy, contain bizarre levels of cholesterol, and yet are so much more available than a healthier version, say some fruits? If given the authority, I would make sure all unhealthy things are super expensive and are never advertised for. Let them die slow and steady, like they are killing people now.

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  8. We are definitely a society of junk food, not only of snacks but the quick and easy fast food as well. It amazes me that in a world where fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods are fairly easy to come by and simple to prepare, we are led by our taste buds towards things which do our health no good at all!

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  9. I hope you do get the authority to pass an order like that, Bhavya. My only request is don't let the chips companies die the slow death they offer their customers. Instead, let them die a quick death, so they do not have a shot at recovery.

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  10. Sad, but true, Sheri, we need to remind ourselves consciuosly to make healthy choices for our own good and the good of the world. All that processed food won't help the planet either.

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  11. I haven't seen the ad yet but am bristling already. Why kick wheat grass I ask you? You know you can take it up with the ad council - let's find out what we can do effectively. These ad guys are going berserk these days. This is highly objectionable.

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  12. Hi, Kalpana, you will see that the brand name in the post is hyperlinked. It will take you to the video on YouTube.

    They are purposely demeaning natural and healthy things to make their own crap look better.

    I agree. Let me look up the Ad Council web site, and see how to take this further.

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  13. It is comforting to know that America does not have a monopoly on ads that promote bad decisions. When my boys were growing up we had many debates over what I fed them and what they saw advertised on TV. A 'Happy Meal' is not a 'Healthy Meal'.

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  14. true..
    I don't like Kurkure.. never developed a taste for it!

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  15. Hii Cynthia! These advertisements are created in a manner such that they can influence and provoke the common mass as much as they can. It is our responsibility to make the choice. I am sure you must have seen Katrina Kaif's ad for Slice wherein she has no role to play but attracting/seducing customers.But at the same time it cannot be denied that because of these ads, issues like obesity and various other diseases are arising.But blaming the government for allowing these wouldnt really lead to any concrete solution. We must fend for ourselves! :)

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  16. Your angst is absolutely valid. Even I find the promotion of unhealthy foods as advertised as beneficial stuff , esp for the kids...you know how tough it gets for us parents to see the spinach to the kids this way ....sigh!!

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  17. sigh! branding strategies can go to an extreme level indeed! very nice post Cynthia! :)

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  18. yes first they make all this junk and try to sell them to us .. then they make fat free stuff and promote it.. good old ghar ka khana is the best...

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  19. I agree with you, Denise. A 'Happy Meal' is not a 'Healthy Meal'. Fortunately, for me, my kids do not watch too much TV, so I am spared the incessant demands for advertised products that other parents complain of. But this happy state won't last forever, and I am concerned about the stuff being sold to children.

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  20. Glad to hear that, Pixie, I don't like Kurkure and other products of its kind either.

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  21. Agreed, Nibedita, and they do succeed in influencing grown people to a large extent. And kids are so much more susceptible to influence of this kind.

    Katrina's Slice ads are so crass. It certainly isn't fruit juice she is selling.

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  22. Tell me about it, Kajal. I have a hard time getting my daughter to eat vegetables, and she does not even watch that much TV.

    Another ad I cannot stand is the Kinder Joy ad. The woman says, "Ma hoon, acchha hi doongi (I am a mother, I will give the best)."

    All I can say is that she is a sad excuse for a mother, if she thinks that is healthy.

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  23. Thank you, Apala. They only care about the ringing of the cash register. Who cares about children or the health of the people?

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  24. :) SuKu, true. Only thing is that I don't trust their fat-free stuff either. I'm sure there's something there to make you keep coming back for more. Good old ghar ka khana is absolutely the best.

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  25. yea...tell me about it!! my kids see these random stuff and they want it all... esp whatever stuff comes with the free gifts... small toys,that are invariably thrown after an hour...








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  26. Exactly. little princess, the quality of the toys is as bad as the quality of the snacks. But kids don't understand that.

    Take that Kinder Joy for example. It's as big as a hen's egg, and contains cream, two chocolate globules and a toy. And the mother in the ad says it's the best.

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  27. Cynthia you have touched upon a huge debate. This issue is widespread everywhere and kurkure is a very small part of this cholestrol producing factory. One may never realise it but ever single snack inside creates issues for us...

    Richa

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  28. Very true, Richa. Every single pre-packed snack is filled with preservatives and chemicals. What got me mad in this case was the deceptive advertising practised by Kurkure to make it appear a good thing. Unfortunately, there are many such snacks that pretend to be good for us.

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  29. Cynthia..responsible advertising is so important.. WHen I was in advertising.. I used to put my foot down to creative teams suggestions of implying things in the name of goodness.. But then some just grovel without realizing how badly are they affecting the brand personality..by doing all this tactics and insulting the intelligence of the consumers.

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