My Life Science teacher (I did not persist in the pursuit of that subject long enough to turn it into pure, serious biology) once told me that the study of making a good advertisement is essentially the art of telling a lie very well. Well, most of the times it’s true, that the company has to rely on a few lies to raise its sales in the market. Sometimes that lie is a bit more subtle. They won’t give you any statistics or surveys or anything. They just split the screen into two panes. One shows an anti-dandruff shampoo whose blurred out body nevertheless retains all similarity with the one launched by a rival company. This other, ‘normal’ anti-dandruff shampoo has no effect whatsoever on dandruff-rich hair. They show a head full of snowflakes and it looks like that shampoo is a dandruff shampoo, not anti-dandruff. The person who chose that poor shampoo goes around single, broken-hearted, joked about and taunted in social circles. Here’s where our celebrated sleek-bodied overpriced anti-dandruff shampoo comes in. A really handsome guy with a really clean head jumps around the screen with a silky flow of wondrous magical hair all about him.
That’s a subtle lie. Then there’s psychological pushing. A person who buys the ‘normal’ product in an ad is always portrayed as either fat, or comical, or jealous, and he lives in this old, sad, gloomy house in perennial poverty if the ad is about interior paint, or he has quarrels in life, discontent and that long bored face if it’s about such a vital thing for inner peace as cement or floor-cleaner. But behold now our hero who bought the right product and is therefore young, fair, handsome, with fluorescent rows of perfectly square teeth, a happy family and a perpetual smile about his face, all because of an aftershave, antacid, cooking-oil or a razor.
And this third method, it’s called, well… I frankly don’t know what it’s called. Maybe it doesn’t need a name, it’s so special.
There is a mosquito-repellant brand in India. Manufactures mosquito mats, coils, liquid. The liquid has extra MMR, the latest in the world of technology. A breakthrough. A violent explosion of clarity in the mundane life of the universe. Like the nuclear bomb. Or the light bulb. Or fire. Or language.
Do you know what MMR is? You don’t? Woe be on you, pitiful creatures!
MMR is mosquito mortality rate.
Mosquito. Mortality. Rate. Yeah, you heard that right. Mortality. I don’t know what unit they measure MMR in (Hertz maybe, you know, number of occurrences per second), but it’s there. Unquestionable. Infallible. Extra Mosquito Mortality Rate. MMR. Short, powerful, important-sounding acronym. Bow hence to the Lord Almighty of mosquito-killers — line up before shops, order through phone, book it online in advance, buy a year’s store today, because He has it in him. MMR.
Ah, this India.