All it takes to be a doormat, eat Kellogg’s!

The other day I was channel surfing when I saw a rather miffed looking Tisca Chopra in an ad, looking most harassed and ready to take the kitchen cleaver to her rather incompetent spouse who was whining from the bedroom about his socks. Having been in the situation where the spouse whines about articles of clothing and is dealt with, depending on hormonal levels and PMS factors, either efficiently, or with a quick and efficient biting off of his head so he never dares repeat said offense, the ad struck a chord. And it struck hard.
The product was a digestive bran based breakfast cereal. And the tagline, Andar Se Khush, toh Bahar Se Khush. And the implication, that because we women are so constipated we don’t have the capability of doing perfectly reasonable tasks like helping a fully grown man find his socks with a smile. And probably, they would have us serve up them socks on a silver salver on a bed of rose petals while we’re at it.
Obviously, the grouchy faced hubby who returns home in the evening tugging at his tie knot, and snarling at everyone in sight does not require his intestines cleared out. No sir. The man of the house will bark and snap as he pleases, but dare a woman even show irritation at being called on to find a pair of socks, ah well, it’s that time of the month was bad enough, and now they’ve gone and added, she’s probably all choked up and needs to crap.
The TVC. Crap I say.
As crappy as the Husband’s Choice Oil which is the embodiment of the governing principle in all current cooking oil advertising that only men have heart attacks we women should worry about, it doesn’t matter if we keep keeling over and dying, clutching our chests in agony, because they don’t make healthy cooking oils for us. Only for our husbands. Or the other ad, which has two friends at a dinner with their respective husbands with one friend fish out Pond’s Age Miracle to tell the other one she must use it to prevent her husband losing interest in her. I don’t see anyone telling said husband he better get that paunch tucked in or the Mrs is going to be looking around at the hotter men on the periphery in true Cougar Town style.
What are the messages our advertising gives us? Care to think about what these ads are putting into our heads. Is this the women we wanted to become? Is this the true picture of the women we are? As for me, I’m not buying either this Kellogg’s Bran whatever, nor the Kellogg’s K whatever. Oh yes, I am taking this rather personally. And my spouse finds his own damn socks.

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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40 Responses to All it takes to be a doormat, eat Kellogg’s!

  1. Gypsy Girl says:

    I so know what you are talking about! the Tisca ad pissed me off too.. yes, there are times i get everything thrown at me and I’m not patient at the best of times… and i don’t think eating bran is going to help my patience level.

    Like

  2. Anu says:

    Most of the ads on TV are rubbish anyway…. as to the fairness cream ads, much has been written, but it still not enough 🙂 wish we could have tv without the ads… have cut down so much on it.. but cant avoid these ads when i do see something i want to 😦

    Like

  3. Tanya says:

    Idiotic idea for an ad!
    The reverse may have been better – eat their cereal, improve memory and remember where you keep your socks.

    Like

  4. sanjukta says:

    all TVCs are sexist, nothing surprising there. the other Kellogs cornflakes ad is even worse, they show children objectifying their mothers and using them as items to posses and show off.

    I started writing about these and then i gave up because each one is so crappy

    Like

  5. I agree, I agree, I soooooooo agree with you!

    Like

  6. Ashima says:

    You’ve put it so well!! I was so infuriated by this ad and so many others on tv. I avoid TV as much as possible now. Is it possible to have like a petition or something against these ads? They’re so degrading!

    Like

  7. neha says:

    You are right. What i feel the worst in these ads is that they will just keep man in focus.What about the working women who handles her work , household stuff(including finding her man’s socks) and PMS.

    Like

  8. Sujata says:

    Well said ! Well said ! Totally in sync with you here !

    Like

  9. Childwoman says:

    What awesome post Madame K!

    Like

  10. bev says:

    you said it! These ads are so annoying…and I bet most of them are written by men. Once we were pitching for a durables brand and one of the positioning tacks was about how it’ll help women be better – my idea was about their getting more free time to do whatever they want/ brand helps train them in various things including finance mgmt etc…the art director comes up with, ‘they’ll be so happy they’ll stop gossipping and bitching”. And he was serious!!! I almost took a cleaver to him, I might add…

    Like

  11. Rusty says:

    Hi, Ive been re-directed to your blog by a feminist friend of mine, who along with a vast majority of other females label me as an anti-feminist.
    It is very disturbing to read miss, that you feel the simple task of a lady assisting her husband in morning chore to be demeaning to women.

    Is it honestly too much to ask miss, that the husband who’s probably married to his wife since half a decade, to show her affection by helping her beloved? The man still looks in awe at his love whenever she craves south Indian dosas and industrial supplies of chocolates in those times of the month, and only smiles meekly when he holds shopping bags full of shoes for her, when he’s really just burn out on strength because of working overtime to buy things he always dreamt his love would be happy with.

    Free speech & awareness aside, miss, as a humble male, I would request you to consider the plight of us males too. Speaking of the ad specifically, what was meant to portrayed was to deal with everyday situations, you need vitamin enriched diets. Thats simple science ma’am, and surely a person of your credentials would realize that.
    It is sad to know, miss, that even the alpha moms of today are seeking such extended views to divide society by encouraging women to mosh against us males, while the same amount could be admiring the Raga Platinum couple’s advertisement.

    Like

    • clueless says:

      @Rusty

      Feminism is not about being anti men. Heck, we would not have married our spouses and lived the better part of our lives if we were anti male. Feminism is about recognizing that women are people too, with the same irritations that men face.

      Your description of the man married for half a decade is so out of touch with reality that I don’t know what to say. Marriage is not about shopping and chocolates. Its about being there for each other. Everyday. Through all the inane unexciting times. Its about working out your finances so you know how much you can stretch. Its about making joint decisions on how much we can splurge – be it the new shiny gadget or that diamond set. Its about finding your own goddamn socks in the morning if you know your spouse is occupied with feeding your kids.

      And finally, the day you show me an Indian ad with the man of the house trying to shove breakfast into kids while the wife is shouting for her pair of socks and the implication is that the husband is just constipated and needs to clear the system out – we will stop making a big deal about such ads. After all, I am sure men need such vitamin enriched diets too right?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Asha says:

      Rusty – that name suits you to a T, doesnt it? Industrial supplies of chocolates? South India dosas (are there any other kind btw?)? That time of the month? I assume you refer to periods? *omg just said the P word*

      Dude, we women have been having periods since the time evolution kicked in and made us homo sapiens – I think we can manage to get thru “that time of the month” without the likes of you patronising us with industrial supplies of chocolates, or your meek smiles.

      And what of your everyday situations my dear Rusty? Dont you need vitamin enriched diets too? You will need them right, since you are working overtime to satisfy your love’s cravings? 😀 ROTFLMAO!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Loved this post Kiran.

    -Nitya

    Like

  13. the ads u mentioned and the horde of fairness cream ads irritate me too every now & then – we talk of equality but there is always gender bias- but loved the read- cool and glad to be following ur rants & raves

    Like

  14. Parul Pathania says:

    You are absolutely right, these advs irritate me to no end. I am a working mother and really all I see on the TV is do this so that your husband likes you(refer to fairness and antiaging creams) and do this for your husbands heart…lot of times I think that I get up early in the morning to make sure my daughters school bag is ready, she has a milk on time, drop her to creche on time , meet deadlines in office , pick her up, make dinner if the cook does not turn up, feed her , play with her and then put her off to sleep ….what about my health and my heart? I dont understand why women are supposed to take care of men(read husband), are they not grown up?I never ask my husband where is my jeans why should he ask where are his socks?and, yes my husband also finds his own socks…

    Like

  15. Divs says:

    Go woman go!!! Totally with you on this!!!

    Like

  16. SD says:

    Hi Kiran,
    I had a feeling of deja vu reading this post. Took me back about 20 years when they showed those stupid Surf/Rin ads with a stupid guy yelling at this wife because his shirt was not clean enough !!! It used to make my blood boil ! It was on TV and print and everywhere. I wrote to the newspaper about it’s sexist nature and they printed my comments too. That did not stop the ads though.

    I don’t know which world India lives in when it comes to portraying modern day women and modern day families in the media and in films. One one hand we tout ourselves as an emerging power to reckon with and on the other hand we regressively continue to ignore the role changes that women have gone through over the last century.

    These ads and films are most likely being produced by men who live in the stone ages or in very regressive families at the very least.

    While I do not deny that there are parts of India where women have not yet seen much change in their roles, and where guys who do not have the intelligence to take care of themselves exist, I am disgusted with how this is treated as a universal theme applicable to all of India. My husband does not need me to find his socks/underwear/clothing, we share the laundry chores just as we share everything else that needs to be done to keep the house running efficiently, he is nutrition ad health conscious himself and bless him for it !!

    The only way this portrayal of women in the media will change is if more and more women to get into production of ads and movies and have control over their content.

    Thanks for letting me vent.
    Ad you know already, your writing is awesome !!

    SD

    Like

  17. Gigi says:

    Are women more receptive to subliminal messages?

    Like

  18. Vidya says:

    And there are the cleaning ads- harpic, vim, surf.. you name it! Women are supposedly worried about the other women drying bright white shirts, and having clean toilets..

    Like

  19. ittakestime says:

    Wow to the way you write , and I can’t agree more !!!

    Like

  20. sscribbles says:

    Brilliant topic and as usual nicely written. Women are either bitches as shown in that cellphone advt where she changes men the way she does with her cellphone cover or as doormats. Where is the normal everyday woman with a mind of her own?

    Like

  21. Asha says:

    And what about the crazy ad where the woman of the house asks everyone what they want for breakfast, and each one has a different request? She promptly sprouts multiple arms, grabs various packets of ready mixes and makes about 10-12 dishes for her “adoring family”. All by herself, while her family sits around the dining table waiting for her to serve them. Drives me nuts I tell you. If my family wants masala dosa AND upma AND rava dosa in the morning (or at anytime), they can bloody well go and make it themselves….or they can run off to the nearets udipi joint.

    Like

  22. Atta girl Kiran! Totally agree with the post. Advertising in India hasn’t changed because most marketing mangers in India are men. This dino-like situation hasn’t changed in the FMCG industry, which is the largest contributor to the ad scene.

    I have experience as an insider – I was the first woman recruited into the all-boys-sales club of Hindustan Unilever and my experiences gave rise to such strong emotions that the only way I could vent them was by writing – my debut novel Earning the Laundry Stripes is an insider’s look at the madcap world of Indian sales, marketing and advertising. (More on the book at http://www.manreetsodhisomeshwar.com/book.html )

    Majority of FMCG (sabun-tel) marketing is targeted at women, yet it’s the men who create the ads. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure that a man trying to get into the head of a woman can only go so far …

    Like

  23. dipikasingh says:

    haha. this was awesome. and so true. loved what you’ve written about the ponds ad.

    Like

  24. Poet Mamma says:

    You are damn right! Find your own socks and while you are at it – find mine too while I pack both our lunch boxes for office.

    Like

  25. Gunjan says:

    Nice post, totally agree with you. To add to it, not only ads, I feel since past few years, thanks to Balaji Telefilms, the entire trend on TV has been towards a retrograde depiction of women..it started with the saas-bahu shows with these pathetic bahus accepting any kind of shit from their husbands including extra-marital affairs; and now we also have these self sacrificing balika vadhus. Whatever happened to the real woman, is this all she does? Yes, maybe the percentage is small, we still have very male-dominant families but TV as a medium should refrain from advocating such themes which stress that women are born to take shit from men and make sacrifices. Instead it would be nice if shows came that showed inspiring stories from India, stories of people like Sania Nehwal, Kiran Bedi and the kind.

    Like

  26. Serendipity says:

    Came back to India and back to this blog after a long time…

    First of all, ROFL at Rusty’s comment. Thumbs up to Asha and Clueless. Couldn’t have put it better…

    Hilarious post…Laughed at the punch line in the end.

    The subtle, sublime nonsense that drives advertisements and even cinema or news, is not lost out on most people. It is difficult to nail the sexism that is so apparent to us here, but is completely invisible to the masses.

    It is unfortunate that in our country, this act of delegating a “second class” to women is so ingrained in our psyche, issues like these are likely to meet with a ‘oh, this must be a pms thingy” response. Rusty is an epitome of a patriarchal society.

    Like

  27. DegeSMS says:

    i want ask you that who is she which is in header.

    Like

  28. Pingback: Three blatantly misogynistic TV ads. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  29. ariana says:

    Wonderful Post. Its sublimal marketing and a MNC like Kellogs should be ashamed to market such a sexist ad, but hey who cares, 100 million people buying Kellogs makes a lot of money. On an tangent here, women should know that Heat disease is the #1 Killer of women over 40, (more than the top three cancers combined). Yet We dont see the folks fretting about womans hearts? Especially Woman from the sub continent are more prone to heart disease than caucasian women. Yet, who cares huh? we got socks to find, upma to make,homeworks to check,dishes to wash,clean the house..
    LEt Sock it to Them

    Totally. Blood is coming up to the boil.
    P.S; Not only does my hubby find his own socks, he even folds his own laundry and makes a mean cup of chai.

    Like

  30. ariana says:

    Rusty, rusty, your brains have rusted out of your head dear boy.
    Are you telling me as an adult you are totally incompetent to find your own socks? Perhaps you cannot find your brains either or the little thing in your brain called empathy or analsysis? Now trust me I find the occasional things my hubs misplaces, but I am a working woman, and not a super woman, I cannot do all that, save the world, look presentable and er..find socks too. Perhaps you also think women over 30 are past thier prime and if a woman’s husband dies, she should shut up and jump into the funeral pyre with him.. Yes..yes..you are right. just go back to 1600’s and you will fit right,hon.

    Attagirl

    Like

  31. Rach says:

    I get what you are saying with the misogynistic approach of today’s ads, but you must also note that the ads are targetted at women, ie, speaking TO the women, who are being viewed as the primary food-choice decision makers. Nobody cares to talk to the men about their own health, let alone their concern for someone else’s!

    Which is also a matter of concern that the men are outsourcing their health decisions to the women in their lives like infants, rather than taking charge themselves.

    Like

  32. Amodini says:

    Nicely said! It truly is outrageous and so very sexist. I’ve blogged about several wanna-be-fairer? ads in my Bad-Ads posts too, and I saw this other one which compared women to cars :

    http://www.fridaynirvana.com/fiction/2009/10/the-bad-ad-project.html

    Good read. Thanks.

    Like

  33. Pingback: Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards – I | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  34. Srividya says:

    I came across this post searching for blogs, articles, anything that would suggest that the Cornflakes Wheat Bran ad is sexist and just wrong. While the search didn’t yield many results, I’m heartened to see that some other people noticed it too. Lovely, post!

    Like

  35. Congratulations 🙂 This post in one of the winners of ‘Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards – 2011’ (TRBA 2011). We would like to create an ebook with all the winning entries in 47 categories on Feminism and Gender Issues in India (and one category on Animals Rights). Please do let us know if you are fine with your winning post/s being included in this ebook. ( Please click here to let us know).

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