Indelible Blue Pen

Jason C. McDonald (CodeMouse92)


June 30, 2013

But Wait…There’s More!

Someone, somewhere, in the back cubicle of a marketing firm must have been having an off day. They needed to figure out how to promote another one of those miracle exercise gadgets. “I need a name that evokes the toughness of this equipment, something that’ll encourage the user to get into shape.”

Then, in a flash of inspiration, this marketing person shoots up out of his chair. “I know! THE RACK!”

I know this must have happened, because I encountered this marketing disaster in the sporting goods department at Target while trying to find a Thermos. The Rack came complete with a big picture on the front of the box of some sweaty, shirtless dude exercising in an abandoned warehouse.

Sure, yeah, your run-of-the-mill muscle man looks to do their workouts in the seclusion of a massive, abandoned building. Or is this supposed to tie into the whole torture theme that the name alludes to? (While we’re at it, don’t people consider exercise a form of torture ANYWAY?)

It really is marvelous how hilarious marketing can be. No, I’m not talking about the Geico commercials (though those are priceless). I’m talking about when the advertising firm wasn’t trying to be funny. Case and point, that Mrs. Dash commercial I’ve cited before…”Add a shake of Mrs. Dash, and watch your dinner move.” No thank you. I’d rather my dinner stayed quietly on my plate.

I think what it ultimately comes down to is that marketing firms sometimes don’t think about the possible real-world connotations of their catchy slogans and jingles, but then, these are the same people who bring us car commercials featuring the latest vehicle driving through lava, with that cute little 4-point text disclaimer at the bottom – “Professional Driver, Closed Course. Do not attempt.” Sorry, excuse me, young adult males are too testosterone-poisoned to notice that little line of text, especially if the commercial depicts something that would otherwise accompany our favorite phrase: “Hey, watch this!”

Explain to me this: if what we see doesn’t affect us (as violent video game manufacturers would lead us to believe), then why do advertisers pay millions of dollars for a single 30-second SuperBowl Ad? (Kudos to Mom for that astute observation.)

Some of the commercials I’ve laughed hardest at are for alleged health and hygiene products. Seriously, people, what IS a pro-vitamin, and why put it in a shampoo? (I did a little research, and apparently, pro-vitamins are needed by the digestive system to process vitamins. Of course, it isn’t going to do you a lick of good having those pro-vitamins sitting on top of your head.)

The commercials are far from “funny” by intention, and they seem to back up their jargon-loaded claims with “scientifically accurate” models showing shampoo molecules being absorbed into the hair, making it glow like radioactive orange juice. To drive the point home, the commercials are also filled with a lot of people with the prestigious title of “Real person. Not an actor,” touting how miraculous that shampoo is. What I want to know is where they find these “real people,” and what sort of condition leads them to spontaneous fits of manic ecstasy while washing their hair.

Cue our old friend, the 4-point text disclaimer, whispering “Dramatization” at the far bottom of the screen. Not that I can hear the little guy over the 96-point text “Pro-Vitamin Infused” banner and the four-foot tall grinning face of a “real person, not an actor” washing her hair.

Jogging just behind the jargon-infused shampoo commercials is our old friend, the food advertisement. “This cereal is part of a healthy breakfast!” How is this possible with the sugar content of a Willy Wonka factory in every bite?

“Contains real fruit juice!” Sometimes meaning that, right after high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40, sits the phrase “natural and artificial flavoring,” indicating to us that the food company had enough gumption to put an eyedropper full of apple juice in the vat.

In my college transition class, a video we watched about healthy living said that, to ensure you have a good diet, add color. Pardon me, but by that logic, the secret to good health is found inside a bag of Skittles. Yeah…not quite.

These same slightly demented marketing firms are going after our kids. Well, yeah, of course they are, otherwise half of the cereals on the market wouldn’t exist (see above.)

My software company creates educational computer games for kids, and we have found that we get our best work done when we’re in the mindset of a child, and the easiest way to do that is to keep children’s TV on around 12 hours a day. A lot of that is public television, but once they switch to the grown-up programming, we switch over to the 24-hour children’s channel, and there are a LOT of weird commercials over there.

Case and point, I never realized how many stuffed animals are on the market that are “magical and very rare!” (direct quote). Those magical and very rare light-up stuffed animals, by the way, have been reviewed to stop working after 30 days. Apparently customer satisfaction is the only “very rare” thing here, and their return policy is about as elusive as magic. You can’t get the promised refund unless you mail them the product, a bunch of paperwork, eye of newt, toe of frog, wing of bat…you get the idea.

(EDIT: My sister just added, “also include firstborn son. If firstborn son does not exist, we will also accept an arm and a leg.” Should we be concerned she’s a marketing minor?)

Another commercial touts that with their product, you will never hear “are we there yet?” ever again. Any adult who has driven any child anywhere knows there are only three things that can get a them to stop saying that: bribery, threat of grounding, and duct tape. Only two of the above are legal.

But hey, what’s a little license on Madison Avenue’s part? At least it gives us something to laugh at.

So, before you go rushing to your phone to order the latest miracle product, keep in mind that the marketing firms have a slogan of their own relating to said miracles. “Please ignore the little man behind the curtain.”

 

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One thought on “But Wait…There’s More!

  1. Not a Stranger says:

    Been a while since I visited your blog. Was NOT disappointed this time, as always. I do love your sense of humour. This post was delightful. I DO love to read your blogs/stories. They never disappoint.

    All my love to you, Daryl. Will be reading more blog posts in the near future as it seems that I have a lot of catching up to do.

    :-) ;-)

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