There appears to be nothing that could, would, might or should stop our overlords at the taste sculpting agencies to employ an assortment of devious exaggerations to sell their ideas. The product has, in many instances, become a superfluous element which simply buys itself a commemorative association with the profound ideas the message (ideology) communicates (instills).
We simply have to take a leisurely stroll back to the seventies to see how much people actually needed taste providers to steer them towards the limited tasteful choices they were offered. The consumers were swimming around in a very muddy pool, navigating their way to the Khoi pond with only catfish to direct them. But the underlining motives in the methods employed in advertising have persisted pretty much unchanged.
Placing a skimpily clad busty blonde on the hood of a car with breasts dripping out like hot chocolate fudge would most certainly trigger, even in the most independent of males thinkers, the insatiable desire to own if but only the hood of the vehicle to which the woman with the leaky mammae appears to be spontaneously drawn.
The appeal made to the basest of desires overpowers and decimates every superior moral objection in his logical arsenal. The superficiality barometer throbs courageously, even after having been split open by reason's cleaver. The vehicle not only buys him the extremely slim chance, along with several thousand other male members of the clientele, to one morning suddenly discover a busty blonde on the bonnet, but most importantly reserves him the right to act with the exaggerated prestige the object promised to impregnate him with.
The cereal box on the breakfast table portraying the healthy, happy family on the back, prostrated in between the hardly legible nutritional facts, is a likeness we’d all like to aspire to. Once the undisclosed volume of sugar has started fibrilating the internal antennae and you’re able to look past the thoroughly foreign family portrayal, you slowly become privy to a realization that they are all in fact models who pitched up at a random location one morning, as unfamiliar and unknown to them as their fellow ‘family members’. It was most likely, you realize, not an incidental snap taken by the CEO’s brother of the CEO enjoying their wonderful product with his family one sunny spring morning.
Deconstructing these lurid fairy tales and dismantling their hidden objectives into little petty piles of bitter quips, leaves the consumer isolated and cynical. I would make an impassionate plea to car manufacturers to non-ironically create the campaign that portrays the likeness of the saucy intoxicated juvenile who likes the new car that one evening reclining on the one side of the bonnet with the ‘housekeeper’ his fallible character will eventually draw, on the other.
I would emphatically call out the cereal producers and demand to see a depiction on the back of their cereal box of a young girl screaming at her dad at the breakfast table because he didn’t help her with her geography project, mom’s head buried in her hands, sobbing her life away. Why would I however want to smudge the tears on a face ravished with such sweet agony, masquerading as a perfectly well functioning distortion of truth. She keeps our hope afloat, and isn’t that all we actually have? At least the cereal doesn’t scream at you, right?
Where I do however have to draw the line, dear advertisers is when you make claims that that you expound as facts.
A couple of examples I believe are in order:
“Taste the world’s best chocolate”. Yes, I tasted it, and there have been about six other ones from the top of my head that I can think of that tasted better. I never even considered one of them to be remotely close to something I would refer to as “the world’s best”. So what now? If your chocolate doesn’t even rank under the top six that I’ve tasted, shouldn’t you be compelled to immediately change your utterly misleading tagline? It should read, “It’s definitely not the best, but it does taste like chocolate”, or perhaps, “It is chocolate, this is chocolate. Once you unwrap it, put it in your mouth and chew it, you will most likely think you’re eating chocolate”.
“This is the only cleaner you’ll ever need again”. How, how, how on earth can you make this claim? Of all the places that I will still live, the hopefully lengthy life cycle I'm still permitted, with all the ongoing efforts in developing technologies that will better rid our world of the germs that might be harmful, how could you possibly assume that your cocktail of readily available chemicals would be the only one I’d ever need to use again? How about, “Buy it, use it and see what you think. If it cleans better than your regular cleaner, then start using ours instead. Only off course, until you find a better one, then, buy that one. We really are trying our best”.
“This book will change your life forever”. All I want to know is, what happens if it doesn’t? What happens if I buy your book and I spend hours and hours reading it and it doesn’t have the profound effect you claim it will have. The disappointment of not having the life altering adjustment matches the level of disappointment of believing you and not attaining it. So your tagline should be,”This book will change your life, possibly forever. The change however might be because of the disappointment of not having the changing effect for the better. This however still means that we were right, even if it was not a change in the way you thought or in the way we suggest in the book".
“Are you starving?”. Now here, out of common decency, I just have to put my foot down. People in Zimbabwe are starving. When a raft full of refugees are picked up by a Greek rescue boat after having been at peril on the Mediterranean without food for three days, a person can declare to be starving. You are definitely not starving if you are looking for lunch and a cheeseburger covered with Nachos is one of the fifteen options you simply have to swipe for. Doubly so if you punched another belt hole that very morning. Your tagline should read, “You think you’re starving, but you’re not. You’re only hungry. Try this. It might very well quell it”. Just that. Only that. If you want to use the word 'starving' or 'famished', you inherit the sole responsibility of creating a new word that is the actual equivalent of “to starve” and start spreading it throughout the English speaking civilization. But more about the new lexicon a little later.
The one bit of information declared by advertisers on edible products that is perhaps the most disturbing is when your favorite squeezy bottle of Whip suddenly discloses that it is now without, let's say the organic chemical compound, monochloropropanediol. They make it clear that you can go and thank your lucky stars, as many of their competitors have not omitted this utterly harmful additive from their product now indisputably making theirs, the preferred Whip as the tasty AND healthy option.
So from simple deductive reasoning it becomes blatantly clear that this chemical had always been in their Whip and either no regulatory body forced them to declare it, they didn’t know that the chemical was harmful or they just really didn’t care. People were buying the product, it tasted good and no one had been able to link them to severe cases of blood filled stool.
We are quite fortunate that in this technological wonderland we’ve now assumed to be the respectable receptacle for the thought, rather than the after-thought, no one is guarded against feedback. If you’re a company and used letters available on a keyboard, arranged them into what resembles a word to represent your product, you’ll have an online presence.
Somewhere, somebody will say something about something you somehow ‘forgot’ to mention about your product. The silky smooth gloss of your image you paid millions to bear, to actual artists bleeding for months over the size and color of the dot over the ‘i’, could never be polished enough to slip out from under the ever weightier critical mass-es.
However desperate we as consumers are to throw our wages back into the endlessly gushing tide of commerce, we somehow seem not to be caught and reeled in by catchphrases like, “not that bad if you consider…”, “we’re just trying to do our best and get by” or “we should be offering a better service but this mediocre attempt is all we’ve got at the moment, so there”.
Somehow we prefer to be tickled from behind by an identity-less pursuer, to blindly reverse into the cubicle with a tennis ball sized glory hole. As Oscar Wilde put it: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”, and companies of all sizes probably set aside a proportionate amount of their marketing budget for this inescapable publicity practice.
I offer you an example. A guy purchased a holiday by clicking on a banner ad he saw whilst shopping online for say, mojito pre-mix. The holiday was a nightmare. None of the images that lured him in were of the actual destination. The taglines and catchphrases of “immaculate beauty” and “explore the lost paradise of the north seas” were light years removed from describing his experience. After much complaining and several posts...
Dear banner ad clicker/holiday taker. Writing bad things about us online is just going to make us pay so much less attention to you. Your barking up a tree. Think about it? You're a dog. You can’t climb. Below the picture of the beautiful girl on the beach holding the mojito was a 3px sized link to our terms and conditions which clearly states that the picture of the girl on the beach with the mojito may not be the person you’d meet or have been photographed at the destination you thought you paid for. As they say in our business, 'any publicity, is good publicity', so we’re calling you out you jerk. We'd like to offer you another holiday on another resort that is genuinely much finer for a 10% discount and free vouchers to the pool (even though you don’t need vouchers to the pool). How about we throw in a free Mojito as well? Finally we’ll plaster some more stock pictures of close-ups of pillows and cocktails and then tag these pictures on our website with your name so that when people search “complaint/ad clicker/holiday taker”, they will be lead to said stock pictures first and think, “what was this guy on about?”. Further, we’re going to slightly alter a phrase from one of your several complaints,”and the fine selection of wine that was available at the hotel was perfect, perfectly appalling”. We’ll cut right before ‘perfectly’ off course… and add it to our testimonial section. Don't miss out on this great offer.
Dear Science. There is very little to salvage from the few remnants of truth left over from the path of destruction left by this sophisticated enchantress we call her majestic Lady of Sales.
If you have a big ass sticker on a product that states “10 cents of every dollar we make goes to saving the rain forest”, but the plastic packaging outweighs the product in substance and people buy it cause they think they are actually contributing to a greener planet, you are Pied Pipering us, your rodent children, to the cavern outside Hamlin as you’ve always promised. Good job.
The only suggestion I can make is that the advertising industry has to come up with a completely separate lexicon with words and phrases that can only be used in advertising. The populace would also be compelled by law to use these terms when talking about any products.
Let’s take the tagline: "The goodness of nature in every bite. That’s a promise”.
Now in our new, yet unwritten advertising lexicon, “goodness” could be “brilbaggy’, “nature” could be
“lemklotters”, “bite” off course would be “gluff” and “promise” should be “gontleshut”. Our new tagline would read:
"The brilbaggy of lemklotters in every gluff. That’s a gontleshut”.
As for pictures not of the actual location. Mandatory installations of at least five web cameras of which the location can be pinged. Three of them have to be of different angles of the bathroom.