Friday, June 02, 2006

Shine on you dumbass copywriters

Many years ago I buried my resident bleeding-heart 40 feet under, with a stern admonishment never to darken my door again - but ever so oft something makes him tunnel out of his grave and then I have to bury him again (like Groucho does with his ancestors).

The latest provocation is this new shoe polish ad where a dapper-looking Mahendra Singh Dhoni turns to the camera and tells us, “I decided not to be ordinary. I chose to shine.” Cut to close-up of shoe-polishers looking up at Dhoni in adoration and subservience; looking, essentially, like buffoons who have “chosen” their lot, chosen to be “ordinary”.

Arguably, the young cricketer’s decision to take part in this vile ad was more ill-advised. No point in being too hard on him - the early months of being a celebrity can be difficult for even the most level-headed people and he’s bound to do stupid things in the first flush of stardom; almost everyone does. But hopefully, as he matures he’ll understand that it’s poor taste to take cheap digs at the less fortunate, to participate in the grand (and grandly puerile) conceit that people can just choose to be whatever they want to be - all you need is the Will to Succeed, the Ambition, the Drive, or the Cover Drive for that matter. (After all, isn’t life scripted by Deepak Chopra and Paulo Coelho?)

I’m sure Dhoni has worked very hard to get where he is, and yes, there is a genuinely inspirational element in the stories of many sportspersons like him. But there are other equally important factors at work in any of those stories - sheer luck being foremost among them. So hopefully he’ll also eventually learn something about the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I”. (Substitute God with Random Selection if you prefer.) Even though that doesn't make much of a punchline for a shoe-polish ad...

P.P.S. Bleeding-heart successfully reinterred.


  1. MS Dhoni is getting a little too much media hype now na? He is a fantastic cricketer, but like all the rest of them, is being lured completely into the modeling world.

    I sometimes wonder how blind these celebrities can be. Rich and influential, yet they seem to have no qualms about posing with just about anything for money. Shahrukh Khan runs around the world dancing in private parties for cash, actors actually promote Pan Parag and things. Most hilarious though - there are television actors who do those teleshopping ads, in which they advertise fitness belts, slimming underwear and ayurvedic band-aid and what not!

    And we thought only poor people did desperate and demeaning things for money. Look at the rich!

  2. The ad was indeed stupid, C&B what's the harm in the rich people looking for more money? As long as they don't step on other people's feet aren't they entitled to try harder?

  3. With the rate of burnout these guys manage to pull off, they're just looking for a quick and easy buck so Papa back home can buy a bigger tractor and they can get laid with women who normally wouldn't even look once..

  4. Now now bihari, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with people being greedy or wanting to earn more money. I just find it a bit amusing the depths to which even well-off people, infact considerably wealthy people, fall just to have some more of the dough.

    Someone of Shahrukh Khan's stature dancing at weddings for money. Come on, thats ridiculous!

    But I agree with the arabian chap. Its basically a fear of burnout. I'm here but I could be gone tomorrow, so lets milk the cow as much as I can, as fast as I can. Hence, Shahrukh Khan does his ridiculous movies, Dhoni is doing a splurge of modeling and Himesh Reshammiya is singing every song he can [or cannot].

    Interestingly, speaking of greed being good, I wonder if anyone has read this book called "Eat The Rich" by PJ O'Rourke. Its one of the funniest books I've read - a kind of blend of economics dosed with humour. Try it Jai, it opened my eyes to the fun side of economics and the goodness of greed.

  5. It's about time he concentrated on his batting techniques..:)

  6. Have you noticed how many ads in India are built around the idea of ambition? In other places, people desire things; we are taught to reach for the stars. In Bihar, an ad for a Hindi newspaper makes no reference to news--only to Manoj Bajpai's ambition to make something of himself.

  7. I agree with the burnout theory. But, perjaps there's a bit of economics in this, too.
    The amount of money that celebrities recieve for endorsements and stuff generally exceed their professional fees. Then, there's also the cases of underworld threats, which now seem to have become norms rather than exceptions.

  8. Nice. I saw this ad yesterday and was considering blogging about it, but (I'm happy) you beat me to the punch.

  9. Most of the ppl don't know the story behind the ad... The ad shows Dhoni as a ticket checker .. and can you bilieve it he was a ticket checker associated with Indian Railways and Posted at Kharagpur at the time he was called to play cricket for India...

    Also .. If you talk about luck then let me tell you my frnd.. He is one of the most unluckiest cricketers. .. He should have been in Indian team 6 yrs before...
    Ajay Ratra was picked over him for the under 19 world cup which India won. By far dhoni's performance was better than Ratra's even then..
    The thing that he comes from a petty state like Jharkhand which doesn't even cross plate division didn't help him either .. He got many offers from other states but he didn't leave Jharkhand. I respect him for that... And now that he has achieved the fame and is reaping money then it is only his hard work that has lead him to it. As you sow so shall you reap .. and "good luck" plays a very little part in it.


    apparently what the admirer says is true about the ticket checker bit but the fact remains that:
    1. you have to be lucky to be imensely talented in a very popular sport and be discovered at all...
    2. If you arent and continue your life as a less priveliged does not make you lesser - or in fact your life any lesser..
    3. if you are reaching your potential you needn't rub in the fact that the others havent had the opportunities to or that they dont have so much potential..