Comparisons, like I believe a good buriyani should be, are fruitless. I know that people chuck raisins and all sorts on a proper buriyani but, as far as I'm concerned, fruit is for fruit salads and desserts. And I try not to compare so many things in Lanka with things in the UK, it serves no purpose and does no good. It's far better to try to accept things in each country as they are, with none of that getting hung up on why x might cost so much more in Serendib than it does in London yet y costs so much less.
Sometimes though, I just can't help it and the world of advertising is one such instance. I peer, gaze and observe the Sri Lankan above the line advertising with curiosity and interest. I wonder why, how and what makes the press, billboard and TV ads work there (here) compared to how they'd work in the UK. Is it unfairly patronising to say that the Brit consumer is more advanced in terms of his exposure and mindset towards advertising?
If it is patronising then I offer my apologies, but it is what I feel. It's also coupled with my feeling that the UK has one of, if not the most, innovative and imaginative ad industries in the world.
There are two distinct and segregated markets within Sri Lanka. For the sake of convenience I'll call them the rich and the poor.
The rich, that Colombo 7 international crowd, often educated overseas, well travelled and with more disposable income than the entire population of Monte Carlo, are well used to Western consumersim and advertising. When they have to they shop at Odel and wouldn't be seen dead in Majestic City unless it's to go to KFC.
There is one fellow, who used to live in Dehiwala but hasn't been seen for a few months, who makes up the entire Sri Lankan middle class. The rest of the people are the poorer and lower class chaps, the "man on the street" who the advertising on the street is aimed at.
Looking at the Lankan ads made me realise that, if the agencies have got it right, an assumption I'm happy to make but many might argue with, the man in the street is a sucker for the celebrity endorsment. Every other billboard seemed to feature the image of a cricketer beaming at me and waggling a chicken sausage temptingly. The next one would be the same cricketer swigging a bottle of Coke or any other soft drink you care to name, the next would be noodles, oodles of them.
In fact it's a surprise that Mahela and Sangakkara aren't a couple of fat blokes who permanently need a runner, what with the amount of Coke, chocolates and general crap they quite clearly eat all the time. A diet of all that rubbish is evidently not helping Mr Sangakkara at the moment, that's for sure.
In other places there's a smiling old bloke persuading us to buy a biscuit that he loves, or a harrassed housewife struggling to juggle the demands of a busy worklife with feeding a couple of insanely happy, smily and unmoody kids. Of course the answer to all her woes is chicken sausages, noodles and salad all washed down with Coke and chocolate. How ridiculous is that? I ask you, who eats salad these days?
You Lankans are yet to find out about the perils of salad, what with all the censorship and all but, in some parts of London, possession of salad is a serious offence. Some burger places try to hide it in between the burger and the bread but it's rare and discouraged.
But, criticisms aside, people are the attraction in Sri Lankan advertising, unless of course these ads don't work. So I reckon the time has come to get bloggers involved, to decide which bloggers would suit which products.
For starters I think the combined power and sheer wordiness of the Lankan blogging diaspora, yes me included, should write about ninety nine per cent of the tourist board's copy. Ask DD to write some prose to get Suddhas to Serendib. In fact, forget Small Miracle and Land Like No Other, let's use Suddhas to Serendib as the slogan. They won't know what it means until they've been anyhow.
And there are other products that are crying out for the endorsment of the more well known members of the Lankanosphere.
If you sell maps, or own a small search engine with lots of Gs and Os in the title then you need.......... Cerno to endorse your product, though many think that this has been going on for a while as it is.
There are vacancies that need your input. I'm thinking condoms, the extra large ones as well as the extra small. Who could step up to the challenge in the blogosphere?
Dodgy clothes, any suggestion?
For a small fee, perhaps a lifetime's supply or similar, I'd be willing to advertise Barefoot sarongs. I just thought I'd mention that one now.
Ladies' products of the, ahem, you know, feminine variety, who'd appeal to you women, who'd make you switch brands?
Drug awareness campaigns, who could be the figurehead, the person who'd make kids want a clean and drug free life?
Ideas would be most welcome.
Have a spiffing Monday and an even more fantastic week.