Advertising - my pet peeve
Television advertising - Is it time to put some restraints on them?
Ever since 1954, when Independent Television was first launched, we have been subjected to advertising.
Now don't get me wrong, I think advertising is good - it appears all over these pages for a start, but certainly what the cosmetics industry for one is doing nowadays is something that's bordering on deception
Shouldn't someone be putting a stop to what they're doing?
At the very least, we should be questioning what they are saying, what they are claiming in the adverts compared to what they can actually do.
The Medicine Show
I can remember western films that had characters who went around from town to town with their product they claimed would do all sorts of things from curing gout, jaundice and baldness, to "perking up your man's sexual appetite".
Of course now, we are wise to these false claims aren't we?
Advertisers probably work to the premise "never give a sucker an even break", but are we really that stupid?
I can't speak for overseas television, but in this country, we are inundated with adverts for products using what appear to be fictional claims.
For instance, they are currently selling mascara using a model to advertise the effects of this new HUGE brush they've developed to apply the product with. Whilst you're watching the beautiful girl on screen, a disclaimer is displayed at the bottom in small text, which tells us that the actual advertisement was created using lash inserts and enhanced post production.
Therefore, the effect seen on the model in the advert, cannot possibly be what you as the purchaser of said product should expect.
A fictional claim?
A second product, a hair dye suggests that it will cover up to 100% of grey.
What they're actually saying is it might not cover any. It's entirely likely that the model used had no grey to begin with and since we don't get to see her hair pre-dye, we have no guarantee that any of that product was actually used.
Associating the model shown with the effects of
said product is what they're doing, but since the model may or may not
have been treated with the hair dye, the consume - or potential consumer cannot be sure that the product was used at all.
Another fictional claim?
Use of Statistics to baffle us with BS
Then we get the others that use statistics to bolster the public's belief in the product.
"As recommended by 97% of Red readers..."
What that statistic actually refers to, is the number of people who actually responded to the poll - around 250.
Now does that mean that Red sells only 250 copies? Highly unlikely, but it is hardly true to say that 97% of their readers agree is it?
A fictional claim?
The third kind of advert is where they cite the use of some miracle chemical that will for instance, reverse the signs of ageing. What the hell are Boswelox, Pro-Xylane, Active Lipozomes, Nutrillium or Elastium anyway?
I read somewhere that a) Boswelox is a form of haemorrhoid preparation - great for the face don't you think? - and b) lipozomes can't survive outside of the body, so they're far from active by the time you start rubbing them into your face.
Apparently, getting wise to advertising can seriously damage the cosmetics industry, but that's okay, because you're worth it.
On the subject of fictional claims, Tetley - a popular purveyor of tea, used the slogan "Tetley's 2000 perforations, let flavour flood out".
This was used for years and no-one thought anything of it, until one day, a schoolboy decided to count the damned things.
He discovered that there were actually more than 2000 perforations.
But that's a good thing, right? It means that Tetley's tea-bags are actually better than advertised.
Not according to the advertising standards people.
The ad was removed.
Another showed a washing powder and its treatment of grease in clothing.
A small vessel was shown with water and a film of - we assume - grease floationg on the surface. When a solution of this detergent was dripped on the grease, it immediately went 'ping ' and magically disappeared.
What had actually happened, was the water's surface tension was altered by the detergent, forcing the oil, grease - whatever to spread and although it couldn't be seen, it was actually clinging to the edge of the vessel it was in.
It made a compelling argument.
That was until someone else tried it with other detergents.
Yup. They all had the same effect on the oil, grease - whatever.
The advert was removed.
It's not only the beauty and household products markets that are subject to these rigours, all adverts are. We all remember when BBC's Top Gear tried reproducing the Mercedes 'A' Class ad down the slalom course and turned it over.
Then there was the Nissan 4X4, whose advert showed it driving over a pile of gravel. Top Gear proved that to be wrong too.
In both of the above, the ads were duly removed.
A warning sign?
I have to admit, there are some ads that make me smile.
There are some that really get up my nose too, but generally, we just mute it if that's the case.
No, we know that annoyance is a perfectly acceptible strategy as part of a sales campagn - more's the pity, but when things are misleading, isn't that a case for the advertising standards people?
Just because a disclaimer is put up on the sreen - albeit breifly and often only legible with the use of a magnifying glass, does that make it alright?
The use of statistics in the beauty products should be a warning sign that it doesn't work for everyone. It's not the universal cure-all that it purports to be and despite its earth-shatteringly high price (typically the anti-wrinkle creams start at about £20.00 or more - lots more), it may have no dscernible effect at all.
So you have been warned.
Adverts may be detrimental to your sanity.
They certainly drive me mad.