I usually avoid commercials on TV. However, for quite some time now a strange ‘infomercial’ is being run on CNN-IBN. A campaign of sorts and I learn this is not new but has been on for over a year. Women telling everyone how they love clean-shaven men or dislike stubble. The Gillette brand runs it and it’s called ‘The Shave India Movement’! It is a near half-hour show on CNN-IBN anchored by Paras Tomar and a panel of celebrity ladies. And if you had missed the disclaimer of this being a sponsored feature at the beginning you might think this was a serious panel discussion on how women liked clean-shaven men or hated stubble.
The general idea is that unshaven men, men with stubble or men with beards are unacceptable in society. I must admit advertising gurus can come up with some very creative ideas, and those are always welcome. But why is this on a supposed ‘news’ channel?
Frankly, when I first heard of a scheduled program called ‘Guthy Renker’ on another channel I thought it must be a movie. A movie about a great revolutionary or a great journalist. Being an avid movie follower I was surprised I had never heard that name. So I decided to watch it and to my utter horror I found that ‘Guthy Renker’ was nothing but a sponsored program about cosmetics and stuff. I had been had! But that was some movie channel so an afternoon program like that seemed okay. But ‘Shave India Movement’ on a so-called news channel? What do you know? The best might still not have come. If the Imam Bukhari of Delhi hears about this there might be protests by muslims all over the world who value their beards. Or may be Sikhs who are bound by religion or tradition to sport beards may draw their kirpans very soon. And what about wives of these muslim and sikh men? What do they think about un-shaven men? Wait till many of them hear or see this campaign!
Greed! Greed is one word that describes the utter lack of character in our news channels. And there are hundreds of such channels that abound. All without any kind of regulation. People have even stopped complaining about surrogate advertising. So you have Haywards, McDowell, Bagpiper, Royal Stag and similar liquor brands making up a big advertising source for these channels. The biggest goon in all these has to be Kingfisher! A liquor brand that now parades as an airline. Isn’t that joyful for the news channels?
I have a good mind to tell the ladies on the Shave India program, the host, CNN-IBN and Gillette what I really think of them. But I have a better idea. I’ve heard of many clinics, including the likes of Batra who help men restore their hair. Cricket Commentator Harsha Bhogle’s ‘refurbished’ hair and hair style is an indirect inspiration. From teenagers to middle-aged men to older men the one biggest concern for men has always been HAIR! Hair-loss, hair-style, hair-implants, baldness – the whole lot!
So, I am now keenly looking forward to the CNN-IBN sponsored program called ‘CNN-IBN Barber Shop’ where men get hints and tips on hairstyles and treatments and also get to tell women how they’d like their hairdo – long, short, bald (ala Persis Khambatta on StarTrek or a Sinead O'Connor).
This kind of advertising was and is a rampant practice in the print media. But at least the print media has some watchdog. These news channels simply do not have any watchdog and will not accept one. The only farcical outfit they have is the National Broadcasters Association, with guidelines that aren’t even binding. So if shaving for men can be a campaign, why not a ‘CNN-IBN Barber Shop’?