Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Tao of Ginseng

How does one receive free bars of soap, sachets of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, or fairness potions (eek, the horror!) with one's fortnightly? Not with ecstatic joy, I presume, but pleasant surprise, anyone? Thank you. I guessed as much.

Imagine now, the WTF expression on the countenance of hundreds of post-teens, freshmen and sophomores of Bengal one fine day, when the paper boy delivered their favorite vernacular spread packed with a punch. Two free caps of Revital in a sample pack.

Now, Revital in India is an OTC drug. While Ranbaxy positions it as a daily food supplement that also contains ginseng, which will help you keep sharp and active throughout the day, this med info site from Moldova says it is indicated for assorted dermatological problems. Whatever the fug it is used for, there is an underlying implication that it's got Ginseng and thus, mythical age-defying aphrodisiac properties. It may not be much in this day and age when anybody with a mail ID meets about five peddlers of cheap Viagra in the course of one working day. But old timers will still remember the early eighties when these ginseng concoctions had flooded the Indian market. Whereas these were mostly advertised with scant subtlety and a picture of coital bliss, one brand, 30-plus, had a stand-apart visual of an extremely fit Jeetendra (then 50 plus) enjoying life as a mature (read over-the-hill) gent with Simple Kapadia as arm-candy. The advert had sort of shaped our outlook towards Ginseng products, through the years. That these were meant for old foggies who otherwise can't, ahem...stand up and deliver.

Thus it came as a shock when Ananda Publishers started distributing free samples of Revital with their recent issue of Unish Kuri, a magazine targeted at teenagers and young adults. Frankly, as one Doc friend puts it, the gimmick helps promote none of the two brands. Like a fish needs a bicycle, he said. (Or, is it? Do fishes need bicycles too?)

When an editor of said magazine was contacted, she didn't seem too enthusiastic about the promotion idea herself, saying it was part of a strategic block deal between Ranbaxy and ABP. She encouraged readers' reaction to the issue. Apparently, ABP is also distributing the same sample packs with Desh, their flagship literary mag, and Anandalok, a hugely popular film fortnightly in Bengali. They have their rationale in perfect order. Since the product is a harmless dietary supplement suitable for all adults, there's no reason it should be R-rated.

In their quest to deliver to the younger populace a taste of the sharp, energetic and active life, ABP has not yet extended the offer to Anadamela. We're waiting.

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