Friday, April 5, 2013

Truth In Advertising

I've long yearned (now there's a word) to work in advertising. I love writing, and, on the occasion that I feel the urge to explore some kind of horror story, I do so, in some part, to manipulate the reader's attention. Advertisers do that, only instead of "the door creaked slowly. In her haste, Alice had forgotten to lock the only way in and out of her home" they impart to the customer to "chase the chill away" in a vegetable soup ad.

Advertisers always sell junk on TV. Ever notice how those miracle closet organizers and electric calendars are "only $19.95 if you call now"?  That's the same kind of stuff which is "not sold in stores".

No kidding, Mr. Clio Award. Even WalMart would shun that object hastily assembled from recycled soda pop bottles and old car batteries. In order to push those objects of our objections, Larry's attention must first be drawn to how wonderful his life is going to be when he discovers that that handy new combination knife and toothpick can clean a bass in "half the time" while simultaneously diverting his attention from the fact that he has never actually timed himself at gutting a fish.

As if the folks in marketing (the ones who fancy themselves casual-professional because they didn't wear jeans to work) assumed that we probably wouldn't want to buy something so unique that it's "not sold in stores", we're inundated with "when you buy this turnip peeler, you'll get a free beet-basher absolutely free. Now how much would you pay?"

I propose a consumers' moratorium, of sorts, on advertising itself. Specifically, how about total truth in advertising? Scary, huh? Something like, "If you buy our computer, it's going to crash and you'll be spending hours at a time talking with 'Roger' in Bangalore. Buy hey, it comes with Polar Bowler on the desktop." I'd probably buy it, but then Polar Bowler always beats Solitaire when you're on the phone with tech support. Maybe this blurb would make you want to run out and buy a new car: "Yeah, the new Chevy Zilch will probably cost you fifteen hundred dollars in repairs within the first forty thousand miles of its life -but you just can't beat that new car smell".

I love that smell.

Speaking of which, I have absolutely no idea why my favorite furniture polish has to smell like a lemon grove. No one ever informed me, during my formative years, that lemons were synonymous with cleanliness. In fact, I'm more than a little suspicious that the aroma attracts hornets to my front door every spring. I may die from a thousand stings, but oh won't my home smell nice. Why not mention something like that? "We scented our product with artificial lemons because we think consumers like you buy our product so you can make your homes smell like a commodities field of someone's agribusiness"?

I love advertising. I love the hype and excitement which leads, more often than not, to purchases by folks who would probably have purchased the same product if that product's industry leaders agreed to bland advertising. "We want to sell Aunt Edna's Original Brownie Mix and you want to buy it because you've been buying it since 1977." Hype is more fun, but as purchasing power is difficult these days I'd prefer the facts instead.

At least they don't hype bread. "We bake it. It rises. You buy it and eat it.'

Now that's advertising.

And it's flatter than Aunt Edna's brownies.


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