New Internationalist

‘Drink Coca- Cola’ wall painting

November 2005

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

This column was published in the November 2005 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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