One Aarong ad recently accrued a bit of hate from those who cared to dispense it. Actually a 'bit of hate' is a downplaying it on my part since the company was forced to apologise for their ad though their intentions were not to hint at 'flood' which was causing suffering at another point in Bangladesh, but to signify monsoon and 'Bishorjon' of the Puja celebrations which were coming up.

For those unaware of it, it was a bunch of the usual models displaying Aarong products but in a setting which is quite unlike the usual or expected in fashion photography, as seen here:

Image of Aarong's controversial ad featuring models in a room with knee-high water

My first reaction to the image was not a positive one, since I clearly remembered an earlier billboard that hung on the way to my work which troubled me equally. It showed a female Aarong model with a woman bangle seller putting on bangles on the model's arm, as shown below:

Not knowing initially that 'bishorjon' was the inspiration for the first, I thought I saw a pattern in their ads in juxtaposing other aspects of our reality which were not first second or third picks to put on commercials - floods or social inequality. It was an odd thing I suppose, as we've not seen this before.

Our inequality's nature is such that we do all things differently, we speak differently, attend different cinemas, eat differently and so on. This inequality gives our middle and upper classes access to servants and chauffeurs where we also have distinct communication and interaction boundaries. Every household could be described as a mini-kingdom with rulers and subjects much like the second image sort of depicts.

If anyone were to create such ads, who else than BRAC who has a multitude of efforts towards bettering conditions of our economically disadvantaged. These juxtapositions may be uncomfortable, but its better to have that lead to further thought than anything else. Removing these pictures won't rid us of our dilemmas.