Idea Cellular Ltd, the telecom operator owned by the Aditya Birla group, has had a long-running commercial featuring Bollywood actor Abhishek Bacchan which has captured the imagination of many media watchers as well as a large section of the Indian public. But now the ad has run into trouble with the industry watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has slammed the company for encouraging potentially unsafe activities; on the ground that it encourages people to talk on cellphones while walking on the street.
While this is acceptable in most countries, ASCI might be justified in trying to curb the practice in India, where the pavements are poorly regulated thanks to haphazard 'development' and unregulated occupants. In most Indian metros, walking is more dangerous than driving.
The ASCI reaction comes a little late in the day, as Idea has been running the TV spot for quite some time now. A rather juvenile concept running around a Roman Catholic schoolteacher prancing around in his gown because he can supposedly spread education to the underprivileged by simply using an Idea-powered cellphone, it would not have worked anywhere except in Bollywood-oriented India.
Idea Mobile's latest ''SirJi'' ad is based on saving trees and reducing the use of paper. This is hardly an 'idea' in a country like India, where people cannot even afford a notebook and pencil. But Indian advertisers seem encouraged to use unrealistic images, which seem to go down well with the public.
The ASCI has also slammed Reliance Communications for running misleading TV commercials suggesting that Reliance-Com's television campaign of being the ''fastest mobile broadband service in India'' has not been substantiated by figures.