Monsoon ad-ing

Henna hands on subway stops, brought to you by the bankers of Hong Kong and Shanghai. Oh look, it’s just like South Asian fiction covers

Trite but cute. The first ad actually sets up an artificial duality. I’ve got female friends who’ve flirted with a Delhi wedding while living among the Japanese hipsters of that ‘hood. The punks of St. Marks Place are more taken with piercings — mehndi is no longer mutinous.

Related post: The subway series: The Bombay Dreams ads don’t feature the leads

23 thoughts on “Monsoon ad-ing

  1. Mehndi is not mutinous?

    ha! I came back with mehndi on my hands, a few other moms gave me that “look” that tattooed people get.

    Enter the world of suburban moms…..demanding of conformity… Maybe the world of young hip folks in NYC, does not find it a rebellion(For the record, neither do I..)

    The ad is silly despite that.

    Great topic though….

    Sumita

  2. Hmmm…..With all due respect, I think you guys are being a little over-sensitive about this. At least they’re showing some (admittedly slightly-cliched) facets of desi culture in very public locations (ie. subway stops), and in a positive way too, unlike the religious iconography on the ‘Exotica’ thread.

    Considering that South Asians in the US don’t have either the high-profile or the population-levels as desis here in the UK, this kind of positive promotion in America is a good thing, don’t you think ?

  3. By the way — Sumita, good to have you back on SM. I was beginning to think you’d been scared off; fortunately for you, you missed the whole Toral Mehta feeding-frenzy/”Stone the harlot” extravaganza, ;)

  4. Bride in Delhi is going to have a lot more bangles on than that.

    Speaking of a lot, the above caption brings to mind the Cake lyric, “Excess ain’t rebellion.”

    Mehndi, bindis, Indian clothes, &c. are still mutinous down heeyah in the south, but shouldn’t be on 8th St. or your parts.

  5. You know, many of the Bombay Dreams ads in London didn’t feature the leads either old chap. I’ve noticed a few West End shows do that – presumably as they don’t know how long actors will remain in a role. Big shows like Chicago have generic ads featuring the supporting cast looking sexy, but then bring out new posters every time a new actor takes a lead role. Perhaps smaller shows can’t afford this – Bombay Dreams wasn’t a sure-fire hit, so they may have erred of the side of caution.

    In defence of the HSBC ads, which perpetually cover Heathrow’s walls, I like them a lot. Admittedly it seems we have different ones over here to you (perhaps this desi one is one that is here, but I haven’t seen). But I really like the HSBC campaign, I’ve learnt a fair amount about other country’s quirks from them. In fact I’ve wondered if they were tailored to the UK (with its large brown population) market as so many of them feature India. Most are not stereotypical like the one you highlight, but more authentic. Like featuring those weird chilli-lime combos you find dangling from trucks as lucky charms.

    But then again, the guy who made this doesn’t agree with me. Rather funny!

    Right, I’m off to check out this Pooja Kumar from Manish’s post, looks rather tasty.

  6. I am going to close my HSBC acount. Darn! They do a mehndi AD and they dont use ANNAs mehndi pics !!!!

    Jai, I agree. But in the US Mehndi is more widely known as Henna – but am not sure if the average American ‘user’ can derive a relatonship between Henna and DesiLand.

  7. Yeah, manish, I too think you’re taking this a bit too seriously.

    I find it a pretty cool ad campaign. Any ad like this is gonna be a bit cliched, but this one seems to be a genuine bit of global integration.

  8. It just raises an interesting question — all these thinks that are “traditional” for Indian women end up (mis)appropriated abroad, and become rebellious/trendy.

    Same kind of thing for nose rings – every woman in my family in India has her nose pierced – so as an “ABCD” if I got mine pierced would I be traditional or a rebel?

  9. … I think you guys are being a little over-sensitive about this…

    and

    … I too think you’re taking this a bit too seriously.

    I think you’re mixing this up with the exotica shop post– the offhand snark is just my ongoing dig at the publishing industry :)

    It’s a cute campaign. Cliched like life insurance ads and long distance phone companies selling on Namaste America on Sunday mornings, but cute.

  10. Oh Manish, those insurance company ads!

    To me, they look like the Indian equivalent of a Norman Rockwell cover of the Saturday Evening Post brought to life!

    I kind of roll my eyes at the hard sentimental sell of the ones featuring people, in very tightly drawn traditional roles, but the series with the little elephant had even me going “Awww”, and even moreso when they ran the “Making of” story.

    Just a sucker for cute animals, especially a Vaisnavite tusker who plays kabbadi…

  11. I cant believe you havent picked up on the news that Gulshan Grover is going to be the bad guy in the new James Bond movie!

    (Apologies if you were already onto it!)

  12. It just raises an interesting question — all these thinks that are “traditional” for Indian women end up (mis)appropriated abroad, and become rebellious/trendy.

    Same kind of thing for nose rings – every woman in my family in India has her nose pierced – so as an “ABCD” if I got mine pierced would I be traditional or a rebel?

    You’d be a rebel if your mummy said you couldn’t.

    What’s rebellious/trendy is relative. Some people are just mesmerized by the pretty colors. It’s sad though that when people flock to the “something different” they oft miss out on the true beauty of whatever they’re flocking to.

  13. i have a funny mendhi story [don't you just love how my comments are always so off-topic?]:

    so i got mendhi up past my elbows [my cousin is completely nuts--her wedding...why am i getting bridal mendhi? anyways..] i was working at a juvenile court this past summer and still had fresh mendhi running down my arms well into my first week of work. a little boy who was at the court for a termination of parental right hearing and hadn’t said even one word all morning—walks up to me and says “those are really COOL tattoos!” heehehe… talk about an ice breaker.

    about the photos–i wasn’t offended…. was i supposed to be?

  14. the offhand snark is just my ongoing dig at the publishing industry :)

    The world will never be paperless Manish. Give it up ;)

    I was really surprised to see these ads on the subway. Expected to be pissed off when I read the text, the small print, the other ads in the series…somewhere! something!

    But nope. these are very cute, and I appreciate the weight given to other cultural traditions. Methinks I smell a desi behind this ad campaign!

    Re: publishing. Sure it can be sort of annoying that the covers are all mehndi, bindhi, saris, bangles, spices. But doesn’t that speak to the number of SA authors getting book deals? Isn’t it rather awesome that a bangladeshi woman’s memoir about her mother’s relationship with her ayya (or whatever – I just made this up) is promoted in book clubs and B&N?

    Look at African authors….unless you’re a white South African, it’s still really hard to get a book deal. Publishers aren’t interested in tales of modern tribesmen trying to eke a living, or the seamy underside of Nairobi, or the forbidden love between a Sudanese and an Ethiopian.

    I’m not saying we should accept what is, out of gratitude that it’s not worse…but baby steps, yeah?

  15. I cant believe you havent picked up on the news that Gulshan Grover is going to be the bad guy in the new James Bond movie!

    Picked up on it weeks ago. Have just been lazy :)

  16. The world will never be paperless Manish.

    “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –chairman of IBM, 1943

    Sure it can be sort of annoying that the covers are all mehndi, bindhi, saris, bangles, spices. But doesn’t that speak to the number of SA authors getting book deals?

    Yeah, it’s a good thing, they’ve paved the way. Now if they’d only flex the muscle they’ve amassed for cover approval rights. It’s been 24 years since Midnight’s Children.

    i wasn’t offended…. was i supposed to be?

    You’ve been sepiawashed. In the future, I’ll be sure to put a big happy or sad face next to the post ;)

  17. Speaking of desi ads – I saw an SRK billboard in Jackson Heights the other day (for Tag Heur)

    I agree, that the print ads are cute and not demeaning in any way. Like others, I tried to see something that could be offensive.

    BUT…I wish they’d given the bride picture more facial bling – it seems that they scrubbed her face before taking the picture. I’m sure Delhi brides would be pretty pissed if that was the photograph that represented them! :) Ha ha. (In fact, I think Delhi brides have a ludicrous amount of make up on)

  18. Oh Manish, those insurance company ads! To me, they look like the Indian equivalent of a Norman Rockwell cover of the Saturday Evening Post brought to life!

    My favorite is the woman whose sole duty in life is to dote on her husband.

  19. I absolutley love the idea of cultural diversity and the different labels prosed upon the American people today, the commericals are fabulous!