10 television ads that will teach you everything you need to know about India

by neo

If you visit Neoville on an average weekend evening (not that Neoville has seen many average weekends lately), you’ll find Mrs. Neo watching her favorite chick flick tasteful movie with tears rolling down her dimple-less cheeks. You’d also find Neo on his laptop, doing what overpaid software managers do most of the time – tweeting, blogging and checking mail.

Apart from the sound of breaking glass or a nuclear explosion (both of which are within the realm of possibility when Neo Jr is playing with his friends), there are only two reasons for Neo to look up from his laptop.

1. Mrs. Neo’s crying escalates to the “sobbing uncontrollably” level, indicating that the movie is almost over. This presents an opportunity to distract Mrs. Neo by saying “how about ordering some bhel?” and switching to sports. (Which just means it’s Neo’s turn to sob uncontrollably – it is not easy to be an Arsenal fan.)

2. A commercial break starts. Neo will always pay close attention to the ads (especially new ones) that run on Indian television. If Neo ever moves back to the US, he will never spend $60 on crappy “mega-pack” Indian channels – but he would pay to subscribe to a 24-hour advertising channel:

There is no better way to stay in touch with India than by watching television ads.

Where else would you learn these valuable lessons about India, in less than 2 minutes a piece?

1. Do your research before you buy gifts for folks in India

Neo spent many years thinking that his relatives in India loved the boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates he bought during the panicky dash to SFO. (In one especially egregious lapse of judgment, Neo decided that Ziploc bags would be a great, unique and thoughtful gift). In hindsight, it was obvious that Neo (and you) are in about as much trouble as the “NRI” in this ad:

2. Smoking increases the likelihood of being picked up by girls

Yes, it does:

3. “Ending the pregnancy is better than abortion”

Mrs. Neo claims that the only reason Neo loves this ad is because Neo is crazy for this sort of girl-next-door look. While the protagonist is certainly not unattractive, Neo is not one to swoop down like a vulture and hit on a damsel-in-distress. That is just lame and is not the “Neo way”. (But yes, does anyone know the name of the actress in this ad?)

4. Feminists agree: Indian women need men to protect them

Indian feminists have their work cut out for them – This “award winning” feminist ad features (wait for it) a man riding to protect a damsel-in-distress.

(In Neo’s version of this ad, the woman does this flying move from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and gives the men a karate kick in their cojones, only to discover that they don’t have any – at which point she whips out the pepper spray from her purse and gives the men something literally spicy to look at. (Draupadi does something similar to the Kauravas in Neo’s version of the Mahabharata.))

5. A dog is more useful than you think

6. How to get rid of your husband’s silly male friends

Rather than sending furtive text messages to Neo from across the living room saying “Don’t you think this party has gone on for way too long?”, perhaps Mrs. Neo could take some pointers from this ad:

7. How to dance

Stop sending your kids to those silly “Bollywood dancing” classes, and make them watch the end of this next ad. That is the way to dance like an Indian (any resemblance to Neo’s dancing technique is purely coincidental).

8. Respect the national anthem

This song is famous in Neoville because 1. it’s famous! and 2. Cousin Preeti physically attacked Neo after watching this ad, simply because he offered her Kleenex!

9. How to name your children

And you thought your child had an unfortunate name ?

10. How to conduct market research in India

Doing business in India is never easy for foreign companies, but sometimes success is more surprising than failure:

And finally as a shout out to all those dinosaur NRIs who left India “back in the day”, here are your moments of zen:

What is your favorite Indian ad ? Tell Neo in the comments!

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