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Friday, November 08, 2019

Commercials—a form of deception and why I hate them

By SJ Otto
If there is one thing I hate about capitalism it is commercials. I have always hated commercials and I hate them more now than ever. Many of them are stupid and annoying. But they are all deceptive.
I have a degree in journalism and that included taking classes on marketing. The idea behind marketing, as well as commercial, is to create a desire for a product or service. There are all kids of commercials. Most sell us on buying products—everything from cold cereal to beer or to cars. Commercials usually have a certain set up for their pitch. They have actors trying to pretend they are everyday people. This is what in propaganda terms is the “just plain folks” approach. The actors are picked to try and look like the average person—an ordinary guy who looks like he could be living right next door to the person they are trying to reach.
At times they give testimonials as if they are just a regular person, telling the target audience about a product and how they just can’t live without it. It’s "the best thing they ever tried." Many times we hear “Wow! That’s delicious!” or “Wow! That’s really good.” And they look sincere. Kids are popular. They have been a favorite of ad persons for many decades. They try to look “cute” to the average viewer and they want you to identify with them. They want the people in their adds to look “just like you” or someone the intended audience persons know.
There are a lot of phrases important to advertising, such as “this will save  you money.” I once heard a person taking about consumerism say that no one ever saved money by spending it. Then there is “call now.” They don’t want the audience to think about if for a while, they want their victims to call right away. To be a good consumer is to buy on impulse which is what advertisers are trying to promote. The advertisers want to promote a consumer economy at all times. People need to buy and consume.
It doesn’t surprise anyone when they find that they have been lied to by an ad. At times advertisers try to lie about what their product is supposed to do. Most of the time advertisers lie to us in ways that are much less obvious. Some time ago two old men were on TV advertising Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers. They acted like they owned the company and made the stuff themselves. “Thank you for your support,” They said at the end of the ad. They were down home and folksy. But their wine coolers were actually mass produced by Gallo and those to old men were just actors who had nothing to do making those drinks.
Other examples of false advertising include:

"Kellogg said Rice Krispies could boost your immune system.
Kellogg's popular Rice Krispies cereal had a crisis in 2010 when the brand was accused of misleading consumers about the product's immunity-boosting properties, according to CNN.
The Federal Trade Commission ordered Kellogg to halt all advertising that claimed that the cereal improved a child's immunity with "25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients — Vitamins A, B, C and E," stating the claims were "dubious."........


Later, Kellogg said Mini-Wheats could make you smarter.

In 2013, Kellogg was in even more trouble. The company agreed to pay $4 million for false advertising claims it made about Frosted Mini-Wheats. The cereal company had falsely claimed that the Mini-Wheats improved "children's attentiveness, memory and other cognitive functions," according to Associated Press. The ad campaign claimed that the breakfast cereal could improve a child's focus by nearly 20%.
In its defense, Kellogg said that the ad campaign ran four years previously and that it had since adjusted its claims about the cereal. Kellogg also noted that it "has a long history of responsible advertising."
People who consumed the cereal during the time the ad ran (January 28, 2009 to October 1, 2009) were allowed to claim back $5 per box, with a maximum of $15 per customer, according to Associated Press...........


New Balance said its shoe could help wearers burn calories.

New Balance was accused of false advertising in 2011 over a sneaker range that it claimed could help wearers burn calories, according to Reuters. Studies found that there were no health benefits from wearing the shoe.
The toning sneaker claimed to use hidden board technology and was advertised as calorie burners that activated the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed to have been harmed and misled by the sneaker company........

Lumos Labs said Luminosity could help prevent Dementia.

In January 2016, the makers of popular brain-training app Luminosity were given a $2 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission, which said the company deceived players with "unfounded" advertising claims.
The app company made false claims about being able to help prevent Alzheimer's disease, as well as aiding players to perform better at school, the FTC found. Luminosity said in its ads that people who played the games for more than 10 minutes, three times a week would release their "full potential in every aspect of life,” according to Time."

There are a lot of ways that advertising is deceitful. Quite often the actors we see are just actors and nothing else. They may be posed to look like they are more than that. The reader often encouraged to buy right away as if the product will be sold out or gone. "We're overstocked" is often said to encourage a person to believe that right now is the time to buy the product and "save money." The consumer is always encourage to "buy now." Quit often it really doesn't matter if a product is bought right now or some time later. Often the price is going to be the same.
When it comes to food and drinks it is easy to show a person or group of people consuming the product. A close up shot of just cooked meat or the fizz from a freshly opened soda is all the advertiser needs to entice people to buy their product.
Advertisers like to use popular music. One thing that really bothers me is that it is harder for musicians to make money off their songs. People don't buy as much recorded music as they used to, so many musicians and groups are forced to sell their songs for advertisers to use. I once saw a car company in Spain use the John Lennon song God to sell cars. That is a very serious song and seeing used to hawk cars seemed sacrilegious. It is definitely trivializing a person's work. People have complained about his image and music being used to hawk cars and there should be outrage. Some thing are too important to use for commercials.  
In marketing I was taught to create a need where there is none. A lot of products that people are just unnecessary. For example people stand in long lines to get the next cell phone. Often there is little real difference between the new phone and the old. But advertiser create the need—as with fashions, it is less about what you really need and looking "hip- with it, staying up with the times." There used to be an expression "Keeping up with the Joneses."  It is all about status and look. It's not about needs. That is what I most hate in advertising.
Advertising is in our face. The ads are obnoxious and we can't hardly avoid the. They are everywhere, not just on TV, radio, news papers, magazines and cable. They are on busses, buss benches, on walls, there are big ads on bill boards as we drive down the road. They are on clothes we buy and glasses we drink out of. It seems like every year advertisers find more ways to get their products in our faces.
Advertisers have created for us a consumer society where we take advertizing and other consumer oriented techniques for granted. As the electric poles that carry electricity to our homes become almost invisible to us, so are the ads we are bombarded with.  
Many people say they just ignore ads so they aren't really affected by them. That just isn't the case  

Art Markman Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today, in an article: What Does Advertising Do?, explains that advertising works beyond just telling us about a project. In his article:

"The reason that we accept all this advertising is that we assume that we can tune most of it out. If we don't pay attention to the ads, then they won't have that much of an affect on our behavior. Sure, the makers of commercials can try to jack up the volume, but at least we have the right to look away.
However, ads also do other things. One thing they do is to take a product and to put it next to lots of other things that we already feel positively about. For example, an ad for detergent may have fresh flowers, cute babies, and sunshine in it. All of these things are ones that we probably feel pretty good about already. And repeatedly showing the detergent along with other things that we feel good about can make us feel good about the detergent, too. This transfer of our feelings from one set of items to another is called affective conditioning (the word affect means feelings)."
He then goes on to a cite a study that explains his point.
There are countries without commercials on their TV. I wasin Cuba last summer and I they don't have them. Without capitalism there is no need for advertising. And they are better off without it. We are also better off if we get rid of the capitalist system that has spawned all of this advertising.

This is one of my favorite commercial spoofs:

UHF Movie CLIP - Spatula City Commercial (1989)

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