Rohan Joseph
Guest Article

What’s really wrong with the Layer’r Shot ad?

Our guest columnist Rohan Joseph raises questions about the fundamental problem of using sexual innuendo in advertising.

Is the branding strong? Of course it is. Is the communication memorable? On the contrary, it’s (un)forgettable. Is it being talked about? Well, since the whole of tinsel town and their aunts have only been talking about this, it most definitely is. Will this go viral? Hell, yeah! But along the way, this viral piece of communication has unearthed an infection that is far more deep-rooted than one can imagine. Let’s peel a few ‘layers’ to find out.

They say, art is a reflection of society. Is it possible that we are surrounded by hordes of closeted perverts who can absolutely relate to this ad? Are we sure that there aren’t college whatsapp groups on which this ad is circulating because it is a reflection of their daily lingo? Is it possible that there are uncles who are discussing this ad over an Old Monk because it reminds them of their younger days? Is there a high probability that the actual consumer of this product does not find anything objectionable in it? And more importantly, is this public rant a true reflection of who the society really is, especially when no one’s watching?

The perfume category is a crowded one. And like most categories, there are some brands here which have deep pockets and ones that don’t. To rub shoulders with their well-funded counterparts, the latter is almost always that much more desperate to get more bang for the buck. Pun, definitely not intended. And while this desperation has led some brands to do outstanding work within their means, there have been a few which have resorted to lowbrow, facepalm inducing work along the years.

Back in the 90’s, a shoe brand had two super models draped in nothing more than a python. An instant coffee brand had a steamy couple making out, an ad which if you still view it, looks like nothing short of soft porn. “Sex ke bina ad mein maja nahi hota”, said the then MD of the coffee brand without batting an eyelid. Ironically, this ad was also nominated at the Cannes advertising film festival ín ’94 within the category of best advertisement for a hot beverage.

Time and again, many brands have resorted to sexual innuendos and have depicted women in cringe-worthy ways to catapult their businesses overnight. Who knows, maybe even the Layer’r Shot brand team is secretly enjoying this noise around their brand behind the façade of an apology letter. But as communication specialists, isn’t it our primary responsibility to refrain from even presenting to the client anything that can be detrimental to the sanctity of the brand?

To be honest, the outrage against the undoubtedly disgraceful piece of communication showcased in the Layer’r Shot films and a ban against its airing feels like déjà vu. Because both, the coffee ad as well as the shoe ad from the ‘90s had also met a similar fate. And here we are, in 2022, witnessing advertisers and advertising agencies using the same modus-operandi to grab eyeballs and mind space.

It is the perverted bent of mind that needs to be banned, not just the ads.

The author is a senior creative director, Madison BMB.

Have news to share? Write to us