Friday, March 20, 2009

Caveat Emptor

Good morning, all.  Yes, I am back from a moment of quasi-exile.  It's more inattention and loss of focus than out and out leaving the planet.  Hope you missed me.

I realized that a really great way to get ready for my appearance on Morning Air would be to put up a synopsis of my thoughts here.  I enjoy the interaction between Sean and I so I don't really want to "script" out all of my nuggets of joy.  The following is segment one.

Because I am a crafty consumer, one who doesn't want to spend money unnecessarily, and my college-aged niece is interested in marketing, I have been looking closely at commercials lately.  Specifically, I have been looking for what the product is really trying to sell.  You see, I wouldn't care, if product X tried to sell itself based solely on the merits of the product.  In reality, no product sells itself solely on that principle.  There is a pitch behind the pitch and that is what is really being sold.  

Take for instance, Pop Tarts.  The delightful cartoon child comes skipping down the stairs and joyfully gets up in the morning because the aroma of the toaster pastry drew him from the embrace of sleep.  (Oh, if it were only that easy.) Then the voice over guy mentions how much your children will like Pop Tarts and that because Pop Tarts filling is made from real fruit, this makes it a great breakfast choice.  What's being sold here.
1.  Health - the plea to fruit in the fruit filling implies the idea that this is some sort of substitute for a cup of strawberries.  If you look at the bottom of the screen, in 4 - 6 pt. font, the company states that the filling is about 10% fruit.  Robert Klein used to have a remarkably vulgar comeback, asking what the other 90% was, at least in reference to fruit juice.
2.  Good parenting - notice that the implication here is parents should make kids breakfast, but what will those little scamps eat?  Here come the magic Pop-Tarts to the rescue.  If you buy these, then you are a good parent.  Nothing like get a pat on the head by a faceless multinational corporation.
3.  Happiness - this is the crusher.  At the end of the commercial, after the cartoon boy has eaten the pop tart, an enormous heart appears over his head.  The implication is that the boy loves his mommy and now is filled with happiness because her gift of Pop Tarts has fulfilled his existence.  Parents need this pressure because parenting is so easy.  Eddie Murphy had a bit in his stand up act about growing up poor and not being able to go to McDonald's.  Instead his mom would make him a hamburger, and it wasn't the "pretty" product.  Looking back on this, I see that his mom was more loving because she took the time to make this and out of limited resources.

Ready for another example?  How about those contraception ads for YAZ?  How I hate these ads!  Frankly, I hate all the ads for medicine on television.  I am supposed to be well-informed and make informed choices about medical decisions, but it's my doctor's raison de etre to prescribe the appropriate medicine; it's my job to ask about side effects and counterindications, not make suggestions!  But the contraception stuff is the worst!

YAZ had to publish a retraction because their medicine didn't do what they had claimed it could do in a previous ad.  The FDA, presumably, insisted that they clarify this issue.  Now, if I were doing that, I would set in it a serious environment, a doctor's office, springs it mind.  Where does this ad show up?  In the same nightclub the previous ad did.  Even as they retract they are saying, "Does our drug seem fun?!"  What rubbish.  The real question every woman who has considering using YAZ should ask themselves is "what else are you not telling me, you corporate shill?"

Just a little reminder from your friendly neighborhood Ragemonkey, let the buyer beware.  


Anonymous said...

Nice to see you blogging, Father! That new logo frightens me a little.

Adrienne said...

I missed you....

Mariamante said...

I am so glad you are back Father. I love the new logo. It is very representative of our times and how I feel. I agree the drug ads are ridiculous. Like I am going to go into to see my doctor and tell him what to prescribe for me. But far more offensive than the YAZ adds are the male enhancement ads which are becoming more and more prevalant. I also find it amusing when it takes them longer to list all the side effects than it does to initially promote the drug. It is like the anti-ad and they are paying for it!!! Keep up the good work Father. Cece

Anonymous said...

What the pop tart commercial doesn't show is that if, by chance, your child was awakened by the delicious aroma of such a treat before he was ready (which is really anytime before bedtime, lets be frank here, he's not a morning person!) his sweet skipping down the stairs would be preceded by screaming, and followed by demands for milk, no not in that glass, the other one. No, not with a lid, he wants a straw!
I could go on, but you already get the laughable pathetic attmept at convincing mothers that their reality can be changed by a simple pastry.

If only!!