When you listen to the advertisements in any place you hear the silent, mental conversations that occupy the minds of people living there.

Let’s begin with Bangalore, it’s plastered with Ads for homes, houses, apartments, villas, plots and land. All options look like resorts, where affluent people are cycling through forests, meditating and living happily-ever-after lives. Most importantly they are all luxury residences, even the one that disguises its water tank as a swimming pool. So basically if you’re in Bangalore, you need to devote all your energies into finding a dream home, so you can spend the rest of your life paying for it.

During my time in Belgium, I was amazed at people’s obsession with eating healthy. Most cereal and yogurt advertisements focused on their slimming abilities. In stark contrast, there were ads of mothers who would create immaculate meals from ready-to-eat frozen boxes. So my natural conclusion was that people didn’t cook much and mostly survived on yogurt and cereal. After constantly surveying grocery baskets while I stood in line to pay at super-markets, I realized that I wasn’t completely off the mark.

On the other extreme, North America is busy melting cheese on everything they eat. Extraordinarily large portions of food are available at unbelievably low prices. Food ads are almost always followed by ads for OTC drugs that promise to cure obesity, heart diseases and sexual disorders. My conclusion: America is most certainly the land of plenty, but it’s plenty of everything, good and bad. A conspiracy theory could be that the pharma industry is in collusion with the food industry. If unhealthy foods are available at low prices, more people are going to need OTC medication.

If advertisements are to be believed, people in God’s own country are captivated by three things, gold, sarees and umbrellas. So essentially a place that is obsessed with wealth, building more wealth, showing it off to the world and carrying umbrellas. But wait a minute, that isn’t true, the entire universe knows that Kerala’s No. 1 obsession is with alcohol. It’s just that nobody is allowed to talk about it. (Edit), now nobody is allowed to even drink it.

Advertising merely responds to the needs of a given market, so what the ads say in a place can tell you a lot about what’s already on the minds of the people living there.

While most of these theories emerged from stringing random thoughts in my head, I imagine that there is some element of truth in it. What do you think? If you have any advertising stories of a particular place with possible theories that emerge from them, please share it with me.