27 July, 2021

The Buzz Around That Celeb Is Unreal!

Humans, prophets or ­pedestrians, have ­always had ­followers. The social media age offers dummy followers at a price. And there’s a ­profit too.

Illustration by Sajith Kumar
The Buzz Around That Celeb Is Unreal!

We’ve seen it coming at us in the movies, sneaking ­under the door unnoticed—well, almost. They call it product ‘placement’, a charmingly honest little euphemism, because that’s what is being done. Brands are ‘placed’—surreptitiously—within the shot, among the props. Your favourite above-50 screen Adonis quaffing a cola. A street fight next to an ad hoarding, a blinking shop sign, anything that qualified in someone’s eyes as subtle, indirect messaging. But the world is too fragmented now to be caught ent­irely in grand 70 mm signals—it’s electronica­lly alive all the time, at many levels. Subliminal advertising too has gone through this prismatic shattering into all these new combos of image and text: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, what not.

The techniques are unchanged, though, and often as unsubtle as before. You may have happened to notice how cricketer emeritus Virender Sehwag morphed from the inexpressive boy from Najafgarh of his playing days into the social media master-blaster we see...

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