New Publication: Advertising in Rural India

Tej Bhatia tkbhatia at MAILBOX.SYR.EDU
Mon Jan 8 16:51:25 UTC 2001

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Editors:  Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York
          John Peterson, University of Munich, Germany
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Advertising in Rural India: Language, Marketing Communication, and
Consumerism. Tokyo Press, Tokyo, Japan. 2000.    ISBN 4-87297-782-3.

By: Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244. USA.

A dramatic change is in progress. Villagers who used to crack open peanut M
& M candies, eat the nut and throw away the shell are now demanding
chocolate candies that will melt in their mouths, not in their hands.
Charcoal-cleaned teeth are a rare sight; so is the case with twigs of niim
(neem) and babul (babool) tree. Today, the ultra bright shine of Colgate or
some other international brand of toothpaste holds more appeal than the
traditional methods of cleaning teeth. Even the native expressions of
cleaning teeth, such as daatun karnaa and musaag lagaanaa, are endangered
to being replaced by new expressions such as  paste karnaa, 'to brush teeth
with paste'. Consumerism and globalization is invading parts of India
where, as some would venture to say, time seems to have ceased for

These villages and small towns, which were once inconsequential dots on
maps, are now getting the attention of global marketing giants and media
planners.  Thanks to globalization, economic liberalization, IT revolution,
Indian diaspora, female power, and improving infrastructure, middle class
rural India today has more disposable income than urban India. Rural
marketing is gaining new heights in addition to rural advertising.

Rural India represents the heart of India.  Approximately 80% of India
lives in over half a million villages (627,000),  generating more than half
of the national income. This book explores the formidable challenges of
reaching this magnitude of the rural masses where scores of official
languages and a few hundred rural dialects are spoken. Based on the
interviews with consumers, media giants, and analysis of case studies, it
offers insights into the following:

 Various facets of rural media (conventional and non-conventional) and
integrated marketing communication. In addition to rural market discourse,
media forms such as wall paintings, calendar advertising, outdoor
advertising, print, radio and television advertising.

 Art of crafting messages to meet rural tastes and sensibilities. In
particular, uniquely Indian media forms such as video van technology, which
has changed the face of not only marketing but also political campaigning.

 Rural markets (haat) which are the mobile McDonald's or Walmarts of India.

 Targeting women and religious groups in addition to rural population.

 Marketing taboo products such as 'bidi', cigarettes, sanitary supplies,
and other such products.

 Globalization and its effects on product naming, product monitoring,
rural discourse and media forms.

 Creativity and deception, together with guidelines for advertisers and

 Information structures and logic of rural ads.

 Ads as a social barometer of changing relationships and value systems.

This work is the first of its kind, devoted solely to advertising in rural
India. It provides a first-hand look at the dynamics and complexity of
Indian rural media and its interaction with urban media.

For Further information please contact: Institute for the Study of
Lanaguages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign
Studies, 4-51-21 Nishigahara, Kita-Ku, Tokyo 114-8580, Japan.

Tej K. Bhatia
Professor of Linguistics
Chancellor's Exceptional Academic Excellence Professor
312 HBC, Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York 13244-1160
email: tkbhatia at
Tel: 315-443-5374 (off.)
Fax: 315-443-5376

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