Ban on surrogate ads. How should the actual products market?


On October 2nd the then health minister Ramadoss has banned smoking in public places. That created quite a stir both for the ban and the ambiguity in defining public place. Did that stop smoking or sales or so called smoking in public places? Don’t even bother answering those questions.


The focus has shifted to a different thing now. There is a proposal to ban surrogate ads. These are the ads which try to sell something else under the same brand name. Works especially for tobacco and alcohol products.

Have you seen Ajay Devgan in the Bagpiper ad. After a fight he recommends Bagpiper and after a pause tags it with the word soda? The word soda comes a bit late and the audience is already thinking. That is surrogate advertising. Bagpiper Soda is a surrogate product. And Ajay Devgan is not a big fan of the Soda. As, they cannot market their products directly alcohol companies come up with surrogate products and ads.

Do you know why all the alcohol brands including our favorite Kingfisher has a bottled water brand too? None of them are actually interested in bottled water market (though that market is a very good market to be in). But in the bottled beer market.

Introduced by information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni in both the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, the paper suggests, if a product that uses a brand or logo, which is also used for promoting cigarettes and tobacco products, then the visual of the advertisement should depict only the product being advertised and not prohibited products in any form or manner. (Mint)

Now, government is planning to take that away from them. Do you think that’s fair? The notion that the advertisements propel the consumer into drinking is misplaced (they might be true to some extent). It doesn’t take an ad for someone to become alcoholic.

In villages there is the local variety of alcohol which comes in different flavors and names. Who is marketing those? A village or a town might or might not have a school. But it is bound to have a liquor shop.

One more time, the bans and the campaigns are misplaced. If the government really want to root out the problems they have to start at a different level. Banning surrogate ads is a low hanging fruit which doesn’t serve any purpose. Though this ban is much better than the blanket ban on FDI in retail.

What will happen to the Bangalore Royal Challengers team? Does that qualify as surrogate advertising and the team itself a surrogate product?

If the ban comes through, how should the actual products market themselves? Should the go online? Should they go viral? What should they do?

*image credit

  1. Rohan says

    Whats Ramadoss’s problem yaar? This doc has a problem with virtually everything.

    This ban is not justified. They have a legitimate product. So whats teh fuss about? Now you can help if reminds you of any other product!

    1. Sriram Vadlamani says

      Except that this ban is not coming from Ramadoss.

  2. Ganesh P says

    What will happen to Kingfisher Airlines ?????

    1. Sriram Vadlamani says

      True. That is a problem too.

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