Advertising I have written about advertising on a number of occasions, especially last May when I berated the advertisers for insulting our intelligence, because so many were using puppets to mouth their messages, for the sake of economy. I now find it very interesting that large companies are advertising more, and I personally believe the quality of the advertising has improved enormously in presentation, if not in content. A friend who works in the industry has confirmed the fact that advertising has increased. Clearly, it must increase sales, and firms are doing their best to combat the credit crunch, making their must-have message more upmarket and slick. But what I strongly object to in the case of television advertising, is that each advertisement can occupy anything from 30 seconds to a minute of my time, and it is generally only in the last five seconds I can confirm the product, all the rest has been some vague window-dressing, often totally abstruse.

Advertising was very mild until about the 60s, which were times of change and the start of the boom and bust cycles. In those days people portrayed the value of their products in honest statements, but advertising is a notional industry, highly competitive, requiring a high degree of originality and inspirational thinking. The problem is that practically everything normal and reasonable has been done before, so breaking new ground in order to draw attention to a product or theory, is requiring more and more abstruse approaches, hence the puppets. The client really has very little say with respect to the advertisement and how his product is portrayed. He is totally in the hands of alleged specialists in the field, who would have you believe they understand the psychology of the buyer, so, having decided on the general approach, and the price, the advertising agency has a free hand to do its best, and the efficiency of the result is basically suck it and see.

For years I have been watching advertisers trying to frighten us, with fears for our health in a number of scenarios, fears of losing our security through not having insurance, and worst of all, being chatted up by highly lauded celebrities, mainly from the television world, on products that they only have our experience of, and are not in themselves experts. I personally find this degrading the respect in which we used to hold them. I wonder if we’re sufficiently critical of advertising. For years I have been annoyed, by watching the quantity of disinfectant that actors pour down the pan of a WC to attack imaginary, and crudely, horrifically portrayed, germs. If the householder used all their detergents at that rate, they would be destitute in no time. Yesterday I accidentally watched an advertisement for a disinfectant. The cameo showed a number of children playing on an upright piano. The allegedly worried mother rushed in with a spray-can of disinfectant, made the children remove their hands, and sprayed half a can of disinfectant over the keys. Why she should have considered that the children were in such danger in this instance, while not considering that the constant use of this quantity of disinfectant would grunge the piano for all time, was beyond my reasoning, and especially how the manufacturer could have been inveigled into approving this travesty.

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