Monday, September 06, 2004

Commercials are just stupid

Over the lats couple of days, I've watched more TV than I have in... months. (The BioChannel ran a Poirot marathon from eight am till midnight...how could I resist?)

Now, we all know advertising is evil and dumb. Occasionally, we're given an ad that's amusing or clever. But 98.7% of the time, it's just stupid.

I'm trying to decide which types of advertising I despise the most (hey...if you work for an ad company, consider this a focus group. Of one.).

First, television is nothing like radio. On a good station, you would never run ads with two competitors in the same set (Ford and Chevy, Pepsi and Coke, Miller and Bud). It just wasn't done.
But TV? Back to back to back car ads. Or recently? Two commercials in a row for the same type of product...hot/cold relief for achy muscles.

And do networks think we're really that brain-dead? That we don't notice when the Exact. Same. Commercial. is run twice, consecutively?


But now, I'm paying attention to them. So I can find all their flaws, and write to these companies. To tell them just how without-a-brain-stem they are.

Last night, I kept seeing an ad for 'we'll help you lower your credit card debts'.
At first glance, these companies seem like knights on white horses, for those in serious credit card debt (fortunately, these companies will never get a call from us. Our only debt is our mortgage!).

But I really watched and listened (partly because I was too exhausted to do anything else, and partly because the same ad ran every other break) to the one, and I realized...they're not really as good as they're promising.

This particular company (why give free advertising by naming them?) had 'testimonials' from two people. The second one, a fellow in his early twenties (I imagine), mentions that he had $3500.00 in credit card debt, with four cards. He's been on the program about seven months, and his debt is down to $2700.00.

At first...um, listen...that sounds good.

But if you think about it...

Seven months. And he now owes $800.00 less than when he started.

Right...spread over four cards, that's just over $100.00 a month. That's the minimum payment for a credit card..

Why is this a big deal?

If he'd said, "Over seven months, _________ lowered my debt to $1800.00", well then...I'd be impressed.

But as is, it only sounds good.

My other recent 'grrr' ad is a new one for an HRT drug. A woman (who could be a grown up Rogue, check out the white streak in her hair) talks about taking low-doses until she's feeling better.
Whatever. Ignoring the fact that we're now being told taking hormones isn't such a good idea...just listen to the list of 'possible side effects...

In the 'warnings' bit: don't take if you think you might be pregnant.


Ok. I may not have been an ace student in my Science and Biology classes, but I DO know enough to realize that if you're going through menopause, your chances of being pregnant are like...nil.

I realize that the company has to say that, but in the commercial? Couldn't it just be a warning on the box, or issued from your (hopefully) in-the-know doctor?

It's ok. The TV is back to it's usual 'off' state. I'm free from those minor annoyances... for now.

Idle Chatter:
As a journalism major, my favorite advertisign classes were the ones where we ripped apart commercials. One of my favorite sites is www.commercialcloset.org. It's just interesting to see points of view from ads we don't really give a second thought about.

Also, I HATE medicine commercials. Can't they just tell you to check out their website for side effects? It's not like the side effects are selling the pill any better...
I Know!

Take our product, and you could die. Ask your doctor if _______ is right for you...
the drug commercial that cracks me up is for a birth control pill (i can't remember the name. i guess the commercial isn't doing its job), and its selling point is that it reduces your period to 4 times a year or something. side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, stroke, heart attack, and in some cases death. ok, i might be making some of this up, but when i first saw the commercial, my cousin and i looked at each other incredulously. yeah, we're gonna buy that.

as for commercials stating the obvious. they have to. their potential customers are the lowest common denominator, mainstream america. i hate to say it, but there are a lot of really stupid and really ignorant people out there. plus, these companies don't want to be liable in this litigation-happy society (see really stupid and really ignorant people above). ok, done venting.
I really really hate the commericals for erectial dysfunction. Those annoy the crap out of me. As do the commercials for male "enhancement".

Of course these come on when I'm watching the news, because stats show "only men" watch the news & they need to reach their target audience. *blech*
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