Thoughts on Advertising and Culture

Well, shut my mouth

The Perfect Diet

There is an old saying, well, it's cliche now, that they get you coming and going. And certainly that is the case with the food industry, their ads and their lobbies, and the drug industry and their tactics and techniques.

A recent news story caught my eye--scientists have found a hormone that dampens the appetite of people (well, so far rats, but who can tell the difference these days). They are eyeing it as an anti-obesity drug someday.

Take a walk around your local Wal*Mart and look at everyone who is 200 lbs or over and wearing polyester pants. How many people do you think look like that because they are hungry? A large percentage of Americans are overweight but even as a layperson, I can tell you it has little to do with appetite. It has to do with the kind of garbage we eat (which is, of course, what is promoted in ads and commercials, what supermarkets stock on their shelves and what fast-food restaurants serve), how much of it we shovel in our mouths. And how little we think about what we take in.

When we see those Carl's Jr. commercials at midnight, and semi-sleepwalk to the kitchen and chow down on half a bag of cookies, it has nothing to do with our chemical, hormonal or biological appetites. It is brainwashing. Well, I guess it's called advertising.

I would not presume to lecture people "of weight." I have battled the problem myself throughout my life, and have swung from very thin to, shall we say, unacceptably chubby. It is a lifelong challenge. For many of us. I know when I am heavy, my blood pressure goes up, my cholesterol rises, and my health declines. I have tried certain diets and watched many of my friends undertake the most extreme diets and measures. And all sorts of bogus pills. But, as with everything tangible, simple logic rules. If I want to control my weight, I watch what I eat and I exercise. It is--in concept--unfailingly simple. And it works.

So when science tries to sell people pills to cause them to keep their mouths shut, you have to think about the mentality, priorities, and philosophies of such a society. It is much healthier, more effective and cheaper just to teach people (perhaps in school?) how to--and how not to--eat. Right. Now if only they would come up with a pill to make POLITICIANS keep their mouths shut!

Suggestive Selling
While we're on the topic of advertising, I think I've noted that many of my blog ideas or entries ferment in the shower. (And if you saw my shower, you'd know why. There's plenty of stuff growing in there!) I observed something years ago, used to babble about it, but never addressed it in this most modern of forums. A fresh bar of soap was sitting on my sink--upside down, the other day. My mind works in funny ways and I often spell things backwards. But it was pretty clear--at least to me--what my DIAL bar was suggesting. Spell it backwards. Is that a subliminal message that if you use Dial, you may be more successful on those nights out (or in)? Do we give the ad people that much credit? All I know is that after I observed that, I started spelling LOTS of products backwards. It doesn't usually work... after a couple of cocktails and getting, as we used to say in college FACED (as in s**tfaced), the last thing you need is DECAF. But do let your mind wander. (And anyway, decaf is not a product name. Starbucks is but SKCUB-RATS just doesn't cut it.)

Another thing I noticed on the Dial wrapper (I bought a multi-bar pack) is (are?) DIRECTIONS! When did consumers become so dense that they need instructions to use soap? I don't think this species was that stupid when we invented soap.

Using Dial soap is so complicated it lists three steps:
--wet bar with water
--lather vigorously and wash skin
--rinse and dry throughly

I suspect that in case these directions are not specific enough, there are FAQs on their Web site. I have to wonder:
How many people in the last 50 years have tried using soap without wetting the bar?
What happens if you do not dry thoroughly?
How vigorously do you have to lather? Oooooh, baby.

Of course, we know the reasons that the package bears directions. If there is anything more insidious than the advertising industry, it is the legal profession. I'm sure the reason for directions is because The Dial Corporation (nothing personal guys--this goes for every corporation) is attempting to prevent lawsuits.

"I am suing because I didn't know I needed to rinse and thus I was so itchy I spilled the hot McDonald's coffee on me." But do you blame the corporations when people hope to collect millions due to their own carelessness. I guess not, really.

I decided, though, to look at the instructions on some other related products and I'm glad I did!
Gillette Antiperspirant & deodorant:
--Apply to underarms only

WHOA, I had been rolling my whole body with this for years!!! To keep my face from sweating, I have applied liberally like lipstick on my entire head in the summer months!

Colgate Shave Cream
1. Wash face and leave wet
2. Shake can
3. Hold upright and press top to release lather

I was able to figure out by myself at a young age that it was easier to press the top than to squeeze the metal can to get the lather out of it.

But for many years I have been completing step 2 before step 1 and I now expect to have a closer shave. I guess I won't sue.

Next time you've got time on your hands, check out the directions of your favorite products. And, yes, I guess I do have a little too much time on my hands.

But isn't this better than pointing out that there have been 2083 Americans killed in Iraq, with 15,500 injured. And about 27,000 Iraqis killed since our "intervention" in their country. We must be nosing up to Saddam's numbers. But remember, he had 20 years; we've only had three. Is that enough reason to bring our troops home?

So I was trying not to get into that this time around. Especially since the Democrats are finally getting around to it. Hopefully they will now take care of the business of government and leave me to read product names backwards.

Sanka very much.

Posted: Fri - November 18, 2005 at 03:57 PM