Don't get mad, it's only an ad: Outrage over Kejriwal promo is nothing but political opportunism

When the Aam Aadmi Party had come out with a TV commercial back in June 2015 to showcase its work against corruption, it had been called a sexist ad, and rightly so.

Obviously, this criticism was the best thing possible for political parties opposing AAP as they vehemently criticised the party over the commercial.

However, it seems criticising AAP commercials is turning into a trend among parties as both Congress and BJP leaders lashed out at the latest AAP ad for the odd-even scheme.

And unlike the previous anti-corruption ad, there is nothing blatantly wrong with this one — something that exposes the real reason the BJP and Congress are outraging over it: Political opportunism.

In the ad, a person dressed as Kejriwal (wearing a muffler wrapped around his neck and head) appears with his back towards the camera. The person is holding a phone and pretends to talk on the phone as the chief minister is heard in the background talking about the Delhi government's odd-even scheme.

BJP and Congress leaders criticised the ad for having “blatantly circumvented” the Supreme Court guidelines and violated the “spirit of law”.

The Supreme Court had in May last year barred publication of photos of leaders in government advertisements except those of the president, prime minister and the chief justice of India.

Vijender Gupta, Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, said that through the advertisement, the ruling AAP was indulging in “petty politics”, while Congress spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee felt it betrayed Kejriwal’s “scant respect” for law and institutions.

The CM’s act is “unethical” and amounts to encouraging people to violate the law, Gupta said. “Technical arguments that the face is not visible won’t cut ice. As a citizen he has not set a good example,” he said.

Mukherjee said the government could have easily opted for a different advertisement format to make people aware of the scheme, which was launched on the new year and is proposed to conclude on 15 January.

What Gupta and Mukherjee do not talk about, though, is the fact that if the odd-even ad violates the "spirit of law", so do many other commericials, like Bacardi and Smirnoff ads.

Since it is illegal to advertise commodities like alcohol directly under Indian laws, they are marketed through surrogate advertising, which is a form of advertising used to market products like alcohol by showing an advertisement for another product with the same brand.

A good example of surrogate advertising would be the 'Smirnoff Experience #unfakeit' ad.

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think 'Smirnoff'?

All of us know that the commercial has very little to do with 'unfaking' it. All of us know that it's the indirect marketing of alcohol.

An even more hilarious example is that of a Bacardi ad.

Remember that popular 1990s Bacardi ad in which a man sings, "Nothing is as nice as finding paradise and sipping on Bacardi Rum"?

Well, a 2012 re-make of the commercial got away without allegations of violating the "spirit of law" by replacing "Bacardi Rum" with "Bacardi fun".

Basically, what Kejriwal did in the odd-even ad has been done by countless other ads in India without getting strong criticism from political parties of outsmarting the law.

And the Delhi CM wasn't even promoting alcohol consumption in the ad.

He was making an appeal to the people of Delhi to follow the odd-even scheme and politely ask others to do the same. Not just that, he even asks them not to pick fights or get into an argument over the issue.

It's an ad which asks people to peacefully follow a scheme aimed at reducing pollution and calmly and politely ask others to do the same.

Kejriwal's odd-even commercial is like an advertisement version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Mann ki Baat'. Nobody really cares about the visuals in that commercial. It's the audio to which everyone pays attention.

Of course, debating about the efficiency of the odd-even scheme is completely valid.

But criticising an advertisement which appeals to people to peacefully strive to reduce pollution is uncalled for.

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Updated Date: Jan 08, 2016 15:33:17 IST

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