There is a minor debate going on in the Blogosphere about a recent set of ads from Salesgenie.com, which appeared during the Super Bowl.
In one of the ads, the ‘Boss’ threatens to fire a salesman named Ramesh Chakrapani, who he claims is the worst sales person in the company, unless he improves his sales. Ramesh panics and searches at “Genie” search engine to find SalesGenie.com where they offer to provide 100 free sales leads for every salesperson in a company. Ramesh becomes a hero.
Ho-Hum. A harmless (and predictable) ad. What’s the debate about? Stereotypes. Ramesh has a thick ‘Indian’ accent and sound very much like Apu of The Simpsons.
There is another ad for the same brand which has two Chinese Pandas having sales problems, only to be helped by Salesgenie. They are considered to even more offensive.
The ‘odder’ part of the story is that both the ads are written by the CEO of InfoUSA (which owns Salesgenie), Vinod Gupta! Vinod is from Sharanpur, UP and is a IIT Kharagpur product. The irony of it all! I don’t even know what the ruckus is – the ads are not racial but further the stereotypical notion.
In India, we have stereotypes galore in our movies and adverts. A Punjabi or a Sardar is always loud and boisterous. He has to pepper every sentence with an Oye! A South Indian is always in a mundu and has a white tilak on his forehead. In the 70s and 80s, our movies used to have the mandatory alcoholic, Pinto who used to be a mechanic. Ads are no less – I hate the portrayal of South Indians like in the Kingfisher ad. The ad for Big Bazaar meant for the South markets show what the Mumbai art director thinks is a typical South Indian family – grand father in mundu and women with loads of jasmine in their hair. Grow up!