When I was young, an hour long television show usually had four commercials. One at the outset, one at quarter past, half past and then at three quarter past; each being about a minute or so long. Now when watching an hour show, I can count on a commercial at the beginning; then one at reoccurring ten minute intervals; each being two, or three minutes long or even a set lasting a full five minutes!
What makes this process even more frustrating is the fabrication and dishonesty which often permeates the ad. It seems the advertising community believes as consumers we can’t tell the difference between exaggeration and outright deceitfulness. But this technique has become the way businesses choose to market their products. Very often an advertisement will promise one thing, but fails entirely at providing what it pledged.
What makes this worse is how advertising often attacks our self esteem. Women in the advertisement are usually drop dead gorgeous with beautiful hair, a perfect size four body and flawless make up. They have just the right outfit, which matches their shoes and purse. They are smart and totally adorable causing any male who passes to nearly run into a building because he’s gawking at her! Most of us really aren’t built that way, and the ad suggests if we do (or use) just this one product, our dreams to be the “perfect 10” will become a reality!
Toothpaste commercials promise pearly white teeth and imply you can’t have a relationship or have acceptance in any social circles if you have anything less. And there are the deodorant commercials which imply if you have a drop of sweat in your arm pit, you have crossed all proper protocol lines in society! Clothes commercials even for young children, imply if you aren’t wearing their brand, then you simply won’t fit in and if you don’t fit in you can’t compete and if you can’t compete you won’t do well in school! It’s ridiculous, but they play on our values and senses.
Other commercials promise incredible weight loss if you use their specific machine, use a unique diet plan or take a special pill. What is so sad about this are the health ramifications! We are encouraged to drink diet sodas, or eat processed and “fast foods” which is very unhealthy on countless levels, but is ignored in the commercial. The chemicals and ingredients used in the food to preserve it, is harmful. Additionally the processing required to make it shelf ready reduces the healthy ingredients, even as they add synthetic vitamins and minerals. Yet none of this is mentioned during the advertisement.
There are also ads which promise total debt reduction or debt elimination. The truth is however, the “offer” is often nothing more than a rearranging of debts, and the debt elimination therefore, is false. There are commercials of sales which actually aren’t sales at all. The store has in fact raised the price, then the consumer is left with a reduction of the raised price which looks like a sale price, but is actually the original price.
As consumers we are responsible for paying attention to the particulars, regarding what is or is not exaggerated, an outright lie or what is truthful. We also need to evaluate whether the advertisement is legitimate when dealing with our emotions. Children around Christmas time get inundated with every conceivable new electronic gadget out there. They imply to succeed, even in their young life, they must have this new device. And, what is sad, we often buy into it, especially if they offer what seems like a reduced cost, when actually it is nothing more than a ploy.
So I challenge you to consider your purchases this week. Are you shopping based on needs, wants, emotions, and within your budget or only for sales? While I encourage being alert for sales, be cautious, as well. Look through the commercial; do your homework first. That said, happy shopping!