Negative advertising

Negative advertising


The phone rang — which was unusual, since almost all my calls were to my cellphone. Who could be calling on my almost obsolete land line?

A young woman’s voice asked me whether I had received a brochure that my bank had sent me. I remembered it — a promise to lend money interest-free to buy a new car. The model of the car in question gleamed invitingly bright on the cover of the brochure. Standing by the door, his hand resting on the handle, stood a simpering, middle-aged film star, dressed in the latest teen fashion. A pathetic example of ‘wolf dressed as lamb’.

The young woman, on receiving my assurance that I had glanced at the brochure, asked, “Do you want to avail of this opportunity, sir? This offer open to special customers only for a short time.” I asked her how reliable the car was. She replied, “Sir, this car is the best make in world, sir, no competition for any other car.”

“Then how come you are using a film star who is known for his unreliable behaviour? If the car is as unreliable as he is, then I certainly won’t buy it!” I realised the poor young woman couldn’t be blamed for the advertisement, so I added, “I know you are not responsible for the advertisement, but do inform your advertisers what this member of the public thinks of it. Many of my friends feel the same way and won’t buy anything this character advertises.”

She agreed to inform her seniors and to pass on this incredible nugget of information. “But sir, since this car is still best in world, will you buy one with our no interest offer?”
I thought a bit, then worked out the maths. “I heard that if I pay the full price for the new car, within a week I can only get three quarter the price if I try to resell it.”
“But sir, why would you sell such a wonderful car? It will give many years’ good service.”

“All I need to do is buy the same car when some one is selling it after a month and I can save 20 per cent at least.” “But sir, then we won’t give you three years’ free service guarantee.”

I decided to change the subject. “Suppose you had a small, well-behaved child who is in primary school. Every day, the child is bullied and beaten. What would you do?”
The young woman sounded perplexed. “Sir, obviously I would take child out of school and then take necessary steps. But why you are asking this? I am not having child. I am not even married, sir. What is purpose of this question?”

I replied, “Well, your car is like the child. It is good, yet every day it will be beaten and bashed by the potholes and rubble on the roads. Its suspension and wheels and undercarriage will get damaged. So I will not take it out to suffer all those indignities on roads meant for bullock carts. The child can be put in another good school, but your car can never find a good road. It will be like landing a 787 on a grass strip. It will need repairs almost every week. Just replacing a bolt will cost thousands of rupees.”

The young woman asked, “Then sir, how do you travel every day?”

“I travel everywhere by auto,” I replied. “You will not buy a vehicle?” she asked in amazement. “I definitely will,” I replied. “I want to buy the best vehicle for Bangalore’s roads. It’s called a tractor. Are you lending money, interest-free, to buy a tractor?”
There was a click and the line went dead.

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