In this blog’s (much) younger days (as in, 7 years ago), I wrote about ridiculous advertising practices. In that post, I mused about how ironic it was that I was writing a post slamming various advertising tactics when we had just gotten finished approving the final draft of our own very first advertising campaign.
And I’m going to muse again about how ironic it is that this topic would surface again, just as we’ve polished off the outline for a New & Improved advertising strategy.
Life, it seems, is not without a sense of humor. 😉
And it’s also not without an additional set of advertising policies to call Madison Avenue out on.
Badvertising is when advertising gets downright borderline dangerous. As we speak, there’s a company advertising skin cream to cover up dark spots. Umm, that’s all well and good if you’ve had that dark spot for a long time and it’s not growing or changing. But if it’s a new spot, check its borders, color, and texture. If the borders are irregular, the color isn’t even, and it’s not a smooth-ish texture, those are generally bad signs, the kind of thing that needs to get checked out. Yet, the TV ad doesn’t make that distinction. It just wants to sell you cream to cover it up.
Or how about that inversion table, the one that promises to rid you of back pain? Yeah, some people swear by them. Those people are the lucky ones. Others end up in a world of hurt. That’s dangerous, too.
Badvertising is also when children and pregnancy are used to hock every-blessed-thing. Shoe-horning kids and pregnancy into commercials might be relevant to the population being targeted, but if it’s not relevant to the product, it gets flimsy and ridiculous. Present-day examples include using pregnancy to sell toilet paper (??) Or buying home warranty services because you have a family (?). It just doesn’t make sense.
Badvertising is jacking the volume halfway through a commercial break–or from the git-go at the beginning.
Badvertising is applauding the idiocracy, such as showing texting while driving or aggressive driving, as though everybody does these things. Newsflash: not all of us are that stupid. In fact, an increasing number of people actually shun these behaviors.
Badvertising is when the message itself is pointless and flimsy. Examples here include biotech companies, who send incorrect and unhealthy messages like “food is love” (says Monsanto), or portraying autism as a tragedy (I’ve seen a few examples of this, whether in TV shows or during Autism Awareness Month).
Badvertising is when companies advertise a product you can’t get on your own (like prescription drugs here in the US). The commercials themselves are pretty over-the-top, too – the commercial only mentions the severe side effects because they’re required to do so, and they do it with the feel-good music and imagery dripping continuously in the background. This is so, they hope, you won’t notice that the side effects are actually usually much worse than the condition those drugs cover up.
Badvertising is when commercials are excessively misleading, such as when restaurants use fake food props. Given how yummy that Whopper burger is portrayed in the ad–a big, juicy burger with fresh vegetables, it gets pretty disappointing to get handed an undersized, overcooked piece of meat with pale, saggy vegetables.
Badvertising is when TV stations run commercial spots in the wrong market, and they do seem to do this on purpose. I mean, who from South TX is going to travel 5 hours to North TX for private K-12, flooring, etc? And the power companies in the newly-deregulated Texas market advertising here in South Texas obviously didn’t get the memo that we only have one power company, which is run municipally, an arrangement that is not going to change any time soon.
To be clear, I signed off on that previous post with a promise not to become evil in our own promotion efforts, and we can proudly walk with heads held high, knowing we didn’t break that promise. We have since left the magazine we were beginning to advertise with back then, and we have launched our own professionally-built website, a project that we’re now 7 months into. And I’m renewing and reiterating the promise that we won’t be evil. Or ridiculous. Or irrelevant. Or–good lord–dangerous.