The government’s recent advisory directing television channels against telecasting contraceptive ads between 6 am to 10pm, decrying these as ‘indecent’, especially for the children, transported me to ‘90s when my children were small. That was the time when ‘Nirodh’ advertisement was aired frequently on government owned Doordarshan, the one and only one channel in the country. As such there was nothing indecent about the depiction in the advertisement, but the very nature of the content could land any one in an embarrassing situation.
Though not for this particular ad, I do remember being in one such sticky situation. I remember my sons, age three and nine at that time, glued to the TV while I was attending to some household chore near them. During the commercial break the children, as usual, refused to take their eyes off the television screen. On came a commercial of a sanitary napkin brand. I was taken aback when the elder one enquired, “Mummy, yeh kya hota hai? This was out of the blue. Caught off guard, not knowing how to react and what to say, I somehow conjured up an explanation and managed to sail through. I explained to them, in a matter of fact manner, that blood is required for making babies in mummy’ tummy, when not needed is expelled and hence the use of pads. I was relieved the children did not grill me further on the subject and took it quite casually. Not only was I impressed with the way kids responded but was equally amazed at my own ingenuity in satisfying their tricky query, once for all, as they never questioned me on the subject again. Thankfully, they did not corner me on Nirodh ad, I might have been stumped.
Another episode that I vividly remember is the time when my elder one, then just about 5 years old, gave me a sound piece of advice. I was expecting my second one but how such a small child could sense that, I really don’t know. I was startled when one day he came to me and told me to eat double the amount of food, have a good diet full of veggies and fruits as I was carrying a baby – all enthused by the advertisement campaign being carried out by the Ministry of Health and Family welfare for expectant mothers. I realized just how much the kids absorb from television advertisements! Catchy jingles, melodious tunes and crisp presentation appeal to the active imagination of children. But to believe that dull and drab commercial go unseen and have no impact on their impressionable minds well, that’s where we got the understanding of the entire advertisement concept wrong!
(Published in The Tribune as Middle on Dec. 25, 2017)