Desis in TV ads

Two good ads have left me wondering. Now, I don’t even watch ads unless I have to.  Watching pre-recorded shows means you can zip through all the ads.

But I recently watched two good ads.  The first was the Howie Mandel ad with a Spelling Bee theme.  I am a big Spelling Bee fan, of course, but I also really liked the cute girl who stars in the ad.  I wondered if she was desi.   Quick internet searches revealed nothing.   What do you think – doesn’t she look desi?

The other ad I watched has been around for a few months, but I watched it only last week (apologies if you know all about it).   This one definitely features a desi – Ajay Bhatt, the “co-inventor of the USB”.  It’s a great ad, and it’s hilarious.

Both ads are good on their own merit, but I loved them more because they featured desis (or a possible desi).

Which brings me to what I’ve been wondering all week – why am I so delighted to find desis in ads?

I’m sure I am not alone.   Why do you think we tend to do this?

It’s not even just ads, we “desi – spot” in everything from “American Idol”  to movies to the  Obama administration.


23 thoughts on “Desis in TV ads

  1. Absolutely agree! I love the Intel ad in guess would be that its a simple matter of public recognition of what most of us, at some level, consider ‘our community’- the diaspora.

  2. We may seek/ notice desis in ads (or be surprised when they appear because at least in the UK, that is highly unusual*) but we only discuss it on blogs when the stereotype is positive (spelling bee, inventor etc). How about some ad featuring a desi cabbie or a desi corner shop wala? 😉

    * An exception (and a terribly funny ad – if you can avoid the spot-the-stereotype game while watching it):

    • That’s a great ad. It’s good enough to make you ignore that it’s one long stereotype – village gatherings, elephants on streets, Indians’ skill at repurposing stuff..all good things, come to think of it 😛

  3. I think it happens with everyone? Koreans spot Koreans just like how Desis spot Desis or Chinese spot Chinese? Yao Ming, remember?

    But I believe the Intel ad was made for India? Coz the line,”Our superstars are different from your superstars” suits only the Indian context!

  4. Both ads are nice. However, I must be an exception – I’m not really into “desi-spotting” in any field or endeavor. Of course, it’s great to see fellow Indians participating and succeeding in a variety of areas, but it does not give me a special thrill. And I am quite patriotic, thank you!

    • Perhaps that’s how one feels after one lives in the US for a few decades? 🙂 If it’s the “our community is the diaspora” feeling that causes desi-spotting, as one gradually starts identifying with the larger community, desi spotting stops?

      All right, I’ve earned my anthropology PhD today 😉

  5. Like others have suggested, we Desis have an inbuilt desi radar. It starts when we initially go to a foreign land – then the radar goes off every time we see another Desi. Gradually that phase ends, because the damn radar just keeps beeping all the time!

    So we look for Desis in public spotlight. A Desi on TV. A Desi (or Desi reference) in the movies. A Desi event. bla bla bla.

    So many movies have little off-the-cuff Desi references, most often alluding to call centers and outsourcing. I (used to) catch most of them. My wife’s radar was even stronger, she never missed a single one 😉

    (On the topic of Desis avoiding each other on the street, i still haven’t figured that out. I actually wrote about it on my blog some time back, and there were some interesting discussions on the topic)

  6. Why? Simple – because we are a minority living in a society and culture where the predominant and prevalent images are not desi, and if are honest with ourselves, most of us have had the experience of being “invisible” at some time or the other, be it the butchering of names, or being referenced as “Hey you” or not being acknowledged. And we have a desi identity to some extent or the other, and that’s why we feel an emotion when a desi becomes visible and appears in an ad, or we come across a news concerning a desi (positive/negative).

    And in spite of many Amway/Quixtar experiences/solicitations, I still smile and nod at desis when I come across them on the street.

    • I agree that we do (at some level) feel part of a minority and so on, but I cannot reconcile why we then avoid each other. People not only do not smile/ nod, they sometimes don’t even acknowledge your smiles/ nods..

      • There is a difference between seeing another desi on the street and avoiding him, and seeing an image of a desi in popular media/popular culture. The latter is meant for consumption of not just desis, and possibly therein lies the difference in attitudes.

  7. I like the Intel ad. There are several other ads ran in US involving desi’s. One is the Aveeno desi scientist ad and the Fiber one cereal ad. Not bad huh? 😉

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