Monday, May 3, 2010

Be stupid

Finally, an ad campaign that I can enthusiastically endorse.

Yesterday, for reasons I can't quickly make up (possibly the heat and some wine I had at a lunch party) I ended up in a Bombay mall called "Palladium". Its highlight, if you can call it that, is the Diesel store, and this company's highlight, in turn, is an ad campaign called "Be Stupid". My boundless curiosity later led me to the online Diesel catalogue (by catalogue they don't mean something listing their products, but rather a 15 page advertising booklet) and I've helpfully extracted the basic principles of their campaign for my readers. The following are all verbatim quotes.

(i) Stupid, you see, is the relentless pursuit of a regret-free life.
(ii) Smart may have the brains, stupid has the balls.
(iii) Smart may have the authority, but stupid has one hell of a hangover.
(iv) To be stupid is to be brave. The stupid aren't afraid to fail.
(v) Stupid is the first guy who realised you could extract and synthesize the humble coca leaf into a fine, white powder.
(vi) Stupid means listening to your heart versus listening to your head.

As an indication of where the world is going, I think this is truly impressive. Of course some of this campaign isn't freely distributed in India, for example point (v) about cocaine, or the pictures in the catalogue of a girl trying to copulate with a phallic pillar.

So maybe we in India aren't completely ready to "be stupid"? Or maybe we are. I really did enter the Diesel store yesterday and here's what happened. A "chick" flounced over to me and smiled winningly. Considering the vile manners of mall employees in Bombay this was a bit of a plus. I smiled and asked her "what do you sell here?". Without a pause she replied "just about everything, except ourselves". I tottered like a leaf in a breeze and then tried the line I had prepared. "My friend and I aren't stupid, so is this store really for us?". Again there was no pause. "Well if you buy everything we want you to buy, by the end of it you'll feel pretty stupid."

Pausing only to read the price tag on a pair of cargo shorts (Rs 8,245/-), I left. But I can't help feeling I had met Diesel's only truly honest - and non-stupid - employee.


Gautam said...

There's an end-line for an ad which shows on TV occasionally, which goes thus: "Thinking is such a waste of time". This is articulated by a sneery young character who ends the ad by driving off on a motor-bike into what presumably is the sea.

I suspect the advertising agency may well be the same as the one whose products you encountered.

Ankur Kulkarni said...

"As an indication of where the world is going, I think this is truly impressive."

I don't understand this. What do you think this ad indicates?

Sunil Mukhi said...

Ankur: Encouraging crass materialism and selfishness as a way of making a captive out of the consumer is a well-known marketing stunt. But this ad campaign seems to plumb new depths in this direction.

Cheeta said...

Does materialism necessarily have to be "crass"?

vbalki said...

What I'm amazed by is that the `chick' had such ready come-backs to your questions---so colloquially, yet grammatically, too. (Or maybe you edited things a bit for comprehensibility.) That sort of articulate response would surely be adequate qualification for a faculty position in most places in India.

But seriously, it's been obvious for some time now that the most creative young people are going into that most inane of professions: advertising (i.e., selective truth and subtle lies). Not exactly something to rejoice over.

Sunil Mukhi said...

Cheeta: No indeed. I'm puzzled by the question. Had I referred to "fried rice" would you have asked if rice necessarily has to be fried? ;-)