Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Advertising Idiocy

With lots of time in the car these days, I’ve become more sensitive to radio advertising styles. I’ve noticed that in addition to the traditional spokesman model – “I use this product and I’m attractive/smart/succesful/cool, so you should use it too” – there is also a reverse model, and it's all over the place.

It goes: “I don’t use this product and I’m completely un-cool; only an entirely senseless person would fail to use this product.”

• Scotia Bank’s “I-Trade” service features Bill, whose RRSP [retirement account] “died” because he failed to switch to I-Trade;

• A television product features a husband who forgets to record 30 Rock and is miserable ["Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!"], because he didn’t use the auto-recording product;

• Another financial services company features a man who childishly refuses to look at his retirement account statements [“Not gonna look, not gonna look, look, look, look”] and so misses important information;

• A restaurant advertises its “Kids’ Fun Pack” that comes with every kids’ meal, featuring an adult male who throws a tantrum because he really, really wants one [“I want one. I want one! I - want - one!!”];

• Ads for Certified Accountants feature CEOs who make their key business decisions by spinning a Wheel of Fortune or reading a fortune cookie.

Interesting, too, that all of them are males. Wonder what to make of that; is someone afraid of a lawsuit by women's groups?

In any case, I find the model truly annoying.

Although, on the other hand, we do the same thing in Torah. We play up the foolishness of our enemies:

Pharaoh - “Gd swore not to flood the world, therefore He can’t drown us!”;

Bilam - Dumber than his donkey; and

Haman - “Moshe died in Adar, so it must be a bad month for the Jews,” ignoring that Moshe was also born in this month,

are all played for mocking laughs.

This, by the way, is not to be confused with a third advertising method: The Foolish Announcer. As in the Budweiser “Real Men of Genius” ads, and the Subaru commercials with “Completely Biased Car Advice.” [“Rhymes with TOO-bah-roo.”] Those, I enjoy.

[Side note: Had two odd, mixed-feelings “homecomings” yesterday.

First, I went to the US Consulate to renew my passport. Felt like a member of a VIP club, as I was taken to the front of the line, then around another line, then up to an upper floor which looked much nicer than the area below. And as much as I long for aliyah, there was a definite warmth that came with seeing the Stars and Stripes out front.

Second, I went to a funeral for the relative of a friend. I had not been to a funeral in six or seven months, my longest stretch since 1997. Beneath the grief, and beneath feeling bad for the rabbi (two in one day for him; I had that two or three times over the years, and it’s rough), was a lurking feeling of ‘Home.’ Pretty grotesque, huh?

Oh, and an ‘O Canada’ item – Heard a commercial for Casinorama this morning, advertising that “The New Kids on the Block have been around the world, and now they’re coming home” to Toronto. I had no idea I was living in the home of the New Kids on the Block. That would have given me serious reason to think twice before moving here…]


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Very interesting observantion. Probably this new advertising trend is due to unstable financial market and the fact that most people listening hope that they buy the "right" product and make a choice that won't reck havoc on their lives.

    Sidenote: Weren't the New Kids from the Boston area? Why I remember this, I have no clue?

  3. Reminds me of many contemporary "the Rabbi meets the Professor" or "the Rabbi meets Ben Yehuda" stories.

  4. Sounds like you listen to 680 News radio a lot!

  5. Neil-
    I would be thrilled to find out that they were actually from Boston.

    Which part?

    Indeed. 25 minutes driving down to CP, another 30 driving back home for dinner, another 15 each way for night seder, and any appointments during the day... like the commercial says, "2, 3, 4 times a day"...