Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another Trick by the Cola Bandits

The advertisement industry can think in the most absurd manner at times. An instance of this is now seen in our media with stars and starlets endorsing coke. We are shown clips of these stars and starlets visiting the cola plant, dressed up in white overcoats (I wonder why?) and discovering the way this sugared-coloured-concoction is bottled and then declaring that cola is absolutely safe to drink.

What they do not say anywhere is that they have all managed to become richer after their visit to the cola plant. It will be worth the effort to find out the money that the cola giant had spent in getting them to act according to the script. Well. Some of them had endorsed the colas earlier too but the advertisement campaign now is bizarre to say the least.

It is bizarre for the following reasons. When Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Education (CSE) told the nation that samples of all the brands manufactured by coke and pepsi contained heavy doses of pesticide residues, she did that after getting them tested in laboratories. The laboratory where the samples were tested is known to all and the results, in terms of the pesticide residue, are now public knowledge. The point is that Sunita Narain did not resort to such gimmicks to tell us that the cola manufacturers were selling stuff which contained toxic elements. It was also revealed that some of the toxins in this could cause cancer!

The question that arises out of this is the credibility of the people who have gathered around coke to endorse its safety. Radhika may have done such roles as a doctor, a responsible mother and a caring wife in films. Her performance in Kizhakke Pogum Rail, for instance was commendable. She seemed to reinvent herself years later in the small screen and her Chitti would ensure most men and women across Tamil Nadu watch TV evening after evening.

As it happened with her films, Chitti too was a money spinner. And while the average middle class TV viewer fantasised herself as the successful, responsible, enterprising character, Radhika made lots of money in the process. This, however, is part of the game. If the viewer allowed himself to get deluded and imagined herself to be another chitti in the same way many young men thought they could convey their feelings to their heart-throb by writing about that in a moving train (kizhakke pogum rail), it is not Radhika’s crime. She simply acted and cinema to become successful will have to cause this delusion!

I do realise that Radhika is not the only starlet who is doing this. I am told that Sahrukh Khan, Smriti Irani and even Amir Khan (despite his empathy with the people in the Narmada valley) are doing this. But then, I do not watch TV and had just happened to see this Radhika promo quite incidentally!

Well, the issue here is not about the cola endorsement, as it is being done by stars and starlets and even sportsmen. This advertisement we are talking about is making a statement about the coloured water even after it has been shown that they contain toxins. The issue involved here is the health and well being of a large number of people and Radhika is only cheating the people by saying that she knows what is good for them and that Coke is good for them. She is, in no way, qualified to certify that Coke does not contain pesticide residues because, as far as we know, she does not even know how a pipette is different from a burette! Radhika will draw a blank if she is pushed into a science quiz meant for primary school children and asked to name of the acid contained in lemon!

And when she appears on TV, dressed up like a lab-scientist or a pathologist and tells us that she had checked up everything and that coke is a safe drink, it is nothing but plain cheating. She is free to buy coke, serve it to her child and even use it as a cooking medium. Well, she is free to use coke to clean her toilets. But she must not and cannot be allowed to cheat any one of us and tell us how to enjoy life.

It makes sense for us to ask her, in a collective voice, as to how much did coke pay her for doing this advertisement. We all know that these stars, starlets and our sportsmen and sportswomen earn lots of money by endorsing products. Some endorse a particular jeweller, some do it with chocolates. We have the right to be informed about the money they earned for doing this. In case of coke, this is all the more important because they are also cheating us by asking us to drink a certain product that was found to contain toxins when samples were tested in a laboratory.

There are other issues too. The colas, for instance, are also guilty of destroying villages and the people there by drawing large quantities of water and rendering the ground water in those villages brackish and unfit for human consumption. They are also guilty of paying a pittance for the water and earning a fortune by selling it to us. Remember that coke pays only a few naya paise for a litre of water it draws from our land, fills it in a bottle, sticks the label and takes Rs. 10 from us.

They earn so much profit by selling water that they don’t mind spending some of it on stars and starlets who are prepared to take this money and cheat the people of this country. Beware of this bunch.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was interesting.....
Very Good!

10:22 PM  
Anonymous kalpit mankikar said...

Dear Mr. Krishna Ananth,
Your column was enlightening. Made great reading and I've send it to most I know.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Vibha said...

hi sir,
i still think the debate should be about the exploitation of groundwater resources and displacement of labour..
coz' if we are really holding them responsible for pesticides in colas...then what abotu pesticide residues in almost everything we consume..that is a fallout of the input intensive technology that we haev adopted in farming.
but to deny people their necessity such as water in order to make sure private coffers are getting filled..is simply outrageous..and hence i still think that should be a reason to definitely stand up and protest.
p.s. the comments on the previous post were really good.

3:19 AM  
Blogger V. Krishna Ananth said...

Thank you kalpit. and anonymous too.
Vibha, the point is that such conspiracies must be attacked from wherever and whatever way it is possible... in other words, hit the enemy at his weakest moment. This does not mean anything unethical... and here, we are attacking the lackeys of the colas rather than the cola itself. I mean, the stars and the starlets.

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

these colas want us to take the words of paid startlets as the gospel that says that they make the safest drinks on earth! only if the labs (and not the lab like contraptions that these starlets inhabhit with picture perfect smiles in the commercials) would agree. and of course aamir khan while publicly bleeding at the plight of the people of the narmada valley prefers to make few discreet investigations of his own before believing that coke exploits groundwater resources, when there is ample documentation to prove it. it is amazing what a few crores can do to our conscientious stars! and the lesser said about our "world beater" sportsmen the better. perhaps it is time someone tells them that their real arena lies outside the idiot box and before they say coke and pepsi are the elixirs of life, they should show some more "life" in their sporting performances. one wonders if sunita narain had spent the same amount these colas have spent to get a more comprehensive test done at different labs worldwide with the same sample, and if the results had tallied, what fate would have awaited them. or maybe if she had given the same money to these stars, how eloquently they would have been parroting the ill effects of the same colas, whose defender of the faith they have become.

7:05 AM  
Blogger vikaspathak said...

Good article sir. That's why I was very critical of Aamir Khan's sudden love for Narmada. People said I was cynical, but the pseudo-social acivist has borne me out. When people like Aamir turn reformers before a movie release, they harm a cause rather than voicing it. Now after this apron-clad cola performance, where he misuses the Narmada publicity that he got, he has sought to equate the Narmada displacement with the cola culture. Such brainless, ethic-less stars can harm society a lot if they are not checked timely.
How much precious water is being consumed by these factories concerns neither these stars nor the media. The stars should do what they are best at: dancing to Himesh Reshmiya's nonsensical tunes....

11:25 AM  
Blogger Sav said...

Recently, a vernacular tabliod in Kerala had reported another of the cola company's gimmicks. Apparently, a vehicle with a doctor's sticker on it would pull up at a crowded shop or an eatery, a person dressed in a white coat (I am sure they wouldn't be real docs) would walk out, ask for coke, and when told it is not available, would make some remark about the unavailability and walk away without buying anything else. Can it get any worse?

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Krishna,

Your writing is bold and thorough. Keep up the good work. Now, what i would like to know is, are you a journalist or a social worker?

11:37 PM  

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