Independence Day: When Every Indian Brand Discovers Their Deshbhakti

Social Commentary

Independence Day: When Every Indian Brand Discovers Their Deshbhakti

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

It’s Independence Day, which means it’s time to look back at the struggles of our forefathers, who fought all their lives for our freedom, and also ahead to a brighter future for the country… For some people, I guess. I personally have no time for any of that shit this year. I already have three tabs open, each on a different  online shopping site, waiting until I can finally buy myself a new life at a 71 per cent discount.

How is it that Indian brands discover their latent deshbhakti only around the time of Independence Day? Why are we subjected to a series of slickly produced five-minute tearjerker films about “soldiers at the border” which you can’t skip, before every YouTube video – but only in the first couple of weeks of August? Why is my SMS inbox full of the number 71?

Apparently, this year brands have done some “primary social media research” and discovered that 71 out of 71 Independence Days have landed on August 15. After crunching this data into their supercomputers, they reached the conclusion that August 15 is, in fact, Independence Day, which means it’s time once again time to peddle suspiciously tri-coloured Iced Americanos at only Rs 71 (NOT INCLUDING TAXES).

It seems like the Indian consortium of consumerism has gotten together and decided that there are three days in the year they love more than others – Raksha Bandhan, because people buy gifts; Diwali, because people buy gifts; and Independence Day, because apparently nothing sells a cute tote bag better than the sight of four rugged soldiers surviving on meagre rations on a snowy mountain.

Sure, for some brands it might make sense to jump the bandwagon – if you happen to be in the business of selling flags of India, or renting out grounds for people to hoist flags, I would say it makes perfect sense for you to cash in on an event like I-Day.

Clearly, one of those three things is not like the others. How is it that something like a country commemorating the fact that they don’t have to be ruled by the Queen anymore, mean Hero Honda is allowed to sell me a motorcycle with free knockoff freedom fighter? I mean what am I supposed to do with the Mohotomo Ghandavi they sent me earlier? Take him to work with me?

You have to hand it to them though, Indian brands have taken something boring like I-Day and turned it into something fun. In this case, a contest of “Are You Actually Buying This?”

Them: Here’s A BLENDER that only BLENDS peanuts on every alternate SATURDAY of the year!! And it ONLY COSTS ₹5,000 because WE MADE IT IN CHINA. YAAAAAAY.

Me: I don’t know, do I really need this? I’m pretty allergic to peanuts.

Them: BTW, LOL! It’s INDEPENDENCE DAY. Now u have to buy it LOL!

(See how kool we are 4 da uth?)

There’s no foreseeable situation where anyone would be convinced by that argument. But still the ads persist – “exclusive Nehruji Independence Day Couples massage,” “10 Independence Day recipes brought to you by Tupperware,” “300% off at the Lal Bal Pal hair salon” – there’s almost nothing they won’t sell, yoked to I-Day.

Sure, for some brands it might make sense to jump the bandwagon – if you happen to be in the business of selling flags of India, or renting out grounds for people to hoist flags, I would say it makes perfect sense for you to cash in on an event like I-Day. Hell it’s possibly the only thing keeping your business afloat. But to the people selling candles scented from the nose clippings of tigers, and calling them “Candle Candle Burning Bright,” I don’t know if Independence Day is really the day you pick to go all out.

It’s almost like every agency briefing in June is just one marketing guy standing up and singing the national anthem to a group of teary-eyed executives and everyone goes home agreeing that the Indian consumer is a huge idiot anyway, and will buy anything. Now while I would really love to prove them wrong, I’ve just seen a website selling a Salman Khan bobblehead that says “East or west, India is the best,” and I have to now go and order four.

Comments