‘Drink Coca- Cola’ wall painting

India

Transnational corporations often plaster India with billboards, ads and wall paintings without much thought about the surroundings. The trouble with such an approach is that a perfectly acceptable advertising message can look very ridiculous if placed in an ironic social context. I tried to capture such ‘brand ironies’ with my camera. The ‘Thirsty’ billboard was the first in this series. It was shot in Chennai (formerly Madras), a city in south India famous for its water shortages. The image captured the ubiquitous ‘Drink Coca- Cola’ wall painting, serving as a poignant backdrop for a row of pitchers in front of a handpump. The picture for some strange reason irked Coca-Cola. And I was slapped with a legal notice for the ‘attempt to defame’ the mega brand. Coke withdrew the notice when I clarified that I had no intention to defame anyone. All I was attempting to do with the image was to capture an irony...

Sharad Haksar, India

mag cover This article is from the November 2005 issue of New Internationalist.
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