Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Vivek asks a good question


He asks a good question: In what way is JEE toppers being offered huge sums of money to appear in ads for coaching centres (which they didn't attend) different from Big Sports Stars's appearance in ads for products such as Boost? In a comment, he says:

I am quite sure that Boost wasn't the real secret behind the energy levels of Kapil and Sachin. Should they not advertise for Boost *after* achieving success (with high energy levels, of course) by whichever way (probably just balanced diet etc.) they did?

This is a good question. I'm not able to figure out the implications here, except to say that we should never trust a hospital or an educational institution that advertises [Batra clinic and IIPM come to mind immediately]. But coaching centres are not 'educational' institutions! Or, is it that while we all realize the corrupting influence of ads, there is still something icky about their playing with the minds of adolescents (and almost adults!)?

Clearly, food and food supplements are more basic and more important even than education. If we are willing to live with (possible) lies in ads for them [Sachin Tendulkar peddling Boost, Viswanathan Anand peddling "Memory Plus"], why should we complain about lies in ads for coaching centres?

12 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    I guess the only reason we start frowning when JEE toppers accept money from coaching institutes is because of our mentality - that academics ought to be pure, and unsullied by monetary considerations.

    W.G. Grace or Bradman probably didnt appear in ads, when cricket was largely an amateur sport, and making money thru the game wasnt such a priority. Times changed, and with Denis Compton appearing in Brylcream ads, professional cricketers started cashing on their image.

    Long back, academics was pehaps something "noble" and not a place for cut throat professionals. But as with cricket, here too, times have changed; competition has increased. If students, researchers and professors are supposed to slog hours "professionally", there shouldnt be a problem if they extract their pound of flesh.

    Wonder when will Nobel laureates start endorsing scietific equipments / memory plus sort of products :D

  2. Anonymous said...

    It all boils down to trading one's own integrity for cash. We don't expect academics to do it.

  3. shencottah said...

    When will we stop justifying our actions by citing past or present wrong and incorrect actions?

    Market forces are strong. Their effects are stronger. But does the very existence of stronger effects make them any better or correct?

  4. Madhat said...

    I am quite sure that Boost wasn't the real secret behind the energy levels of Kapil and Sachin.

    That's the answer, don't you think?

  5. Srinivasa Ramanujam said...

    The difference lies in the fact that JEE toppers are not modellers, but they represent a particular coaching centre just like an alumni represents his/her institute.

  6. zen babu said...

    The analogy with advertisements is not spot on. I am not necessarily clear with the morality of the case - but the corret analogy will be some coach in Mumbai paying Sachin to claim that he was coached under him (the coach) and not under Ramakant Achrekar.

  7. zen babu said...

    Also, legallly, can the taking/offering money for false coaching claims be construed as fraud?

  8. Niket said...

    Reason: its a fraud. In fact, it ought to be illegal.

    The same difference between an ad in a newspaper and a journalist being paid to write favorably about a product.

    Same difference between Sachin saying Boost is a secret of his energy in an ad vs. being paid to say that during an interview without appropriate disclosure.

    Former is right, latter is a fraud.

    If the student was not coached by the specific coaching classes, they are well within their rights to pay him/her for saying that the classes are a secret of his/her success, provided these statements are clearly marked as ads.

  9. Vivek Kumar said...

    @niket: Since these things are always done in ads (I am yet to know any report to the contrary), I don't think you can call it fraud.

    Leaving that aside.. Abi's discomfort stands (I think) regardless of whether it is a legal fraud or not.

    I think that is what the point of the post is (Abi may wish to correct me though).

  10. Abi said...

    Vivek: You are right. My discomfort is still bugging me, as I'm sure it's bugging many others too. I guess when we see Sachin in an ad for Boost, we think of him as a model, not as a Boost-drinking high achiever. We tend to accept this as a case of celebrity endorsement. On the other hand, I think we wish to keep education on a pedestal; this attitude does not allow us to see ads for coaching centres -- which are certainly not educational institutions -- for what they really are: celebrity endorsements.

    So, looks like Anon is right when he/she said: "It all boils down to trading one's own integrity for cash. We don't expect academics to do it."

    Zen babu: What if Sachin actually drinks Bournvita, but appears in ads for Boost? ;-)

  11. Bruno said...

    //I guess when we see Sachin in an ad for Boost, we think of him as a model, not as a Boost-drinking high achiever//

    I am not sure .....

    Sachin Endorsing Pepsi (or shaving cream) is different from Sachin Endorsing Boost or a Cricket Bat!!!!

    And then, Sachin saying that he was coached by Mr.X (where as in fact that is not the case) after getting money from Mr.X is definitely NOT in the same league as that of his endorsement of Boost

  12. Bruno said...

    I think Cricketers have endorsed every consumable other than sanitary napkins :) :) :)