September 06, 2005

"Culture is the name for what people are interested in, their thoughts, their models, the books they read and the speeches they hear, their table-talk, gossip, controversies, historical sense and scientific training, the values they appreciate, the quality of life they admire. All communities have a culture. It is the climate of their civilization."
Djuice is a marketing mobile subscription brand of Telenor Mobile targeting the young generation. It is so far marketed extensively in 5 countries - Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, Hungary & Bangladesh. Since its introduction in Bangladesh in last April by Grameenphone (Telenor is a shareholder), it has been a source of fun and entertainment and created a craze amongst the young Bangladeshis. With its initial low cost SIM at Tk. 300 ($5) they have gained quite a number of subscriber base within a short time. Showing the subscribers Xtra card they can get discount offers in many fast food joints, entertainment venues and concerts. There are also plenty of options for the young generation. Djuice also created much buzz with its innovative promotional activities like this & this.

The latest news is that the Bangladesh government has banned the telecast of advertisements of djuice, and Flexiload, a flexible service to recharge GrameenPhone pre-paid accounts. The question is why?

The initial TV ads were based on the youth slangs like "AJAIRA PACHAL", "KOTHIN BHAAB" etc. They are not indecent as such but not liked by the older generations. Djuice continued to use these kinds of words to build its brand into the minds of the youths. The flexiload ads are based on the characters of a popular Bengali movie "bachelor" which portrayed the true to life images of Bangladeshi youths. Now let us examine the reasons cited by the government:

"the words and gestures used in the ads will encourage the young generation to resort to immoral activities"

The question is are the authorities afraid of subcultures? Is uttering words like "KOTHIN BHAAB" make the youths go ashtray? What sort of culture they want our youths to embrace? They are not even promoting the classical arts like Rabindra Sangeet or classical dances to the youths. So what realy are they afraid of?

On the other hand this decision looks so hypocritical to me as Bangladesh continues to be an unrestricted airing zone for the Indian and other Asian satellite channels. Vulgarity rules in many Indian music & movie channels which is a concern within a more secular society of India today. Because of the popularity of Hindi channels many adolescences are picking up Hindi and the Dhaka fashion market is influenced by the Mumbai fashions as seen on TV. And talking about gestures, aren't these channels leading the youths towards immortality according to the criteria of the authorities? Perhaps to the government authority this is not a concern.
No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. -Mahatma Gandhi


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