Archive for September, 2017

245 – “Heads to tails”

Friday, September 15th, 2017

By Hetty Gray


September 15, 2017

“Heads to tails”

The world is awash with violence today. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of levity aimed at something endemic to all our households across the nation. Agree? Then read along….

If you become aggravated (or insulted) by today’s commercials, you join with throngs of others who feel the same way. It’s been a long time since the images of Bufferin and “Brand X” appeared on television screens.

Ah, yes. Brand X. Well, that could apply quite nicely to some of the ads we are seeing today. I use the term “seeing,” because I am sure that we are not the only household to MUTE commercial sound.

Then there was the Alka Seltzer ad with the jaunty little character that danced and sang to encourage us to assuage our indigestion using his product. Cartoon characters and animals make great ambassadors for commercial advertising and the practice holds true today. I cite the Geico gecko. It’s amazing how a tiny lizard impacts a major corporation’s sales.

Early on, commercials were geared toward homemaking, since most women stayed home and reared their children. Over time, the workplace changed profoundly as more and more women began to work and assume full-time careers outside the home. Note the change in advertising. TV dinners came to the fore. As I look back, I wonder if that product hinted at the demise of the family dinner table and began to erode the center of family life.

There is, of course, no way to know this. Because of my vintage, personal opinion for me merely heralds an earlier view of mother at home that has diminished markedly over the last thirty years.

Moving along in time, automobile companies hit the airwaves in an earnest effort to lure customers into dealerships across the country. The introduction of the “station wagon” in the 1950s set the stage for Chrysler’s mini-van decades later. Amid those years was the full size van, with some models customized to luxury travel vehicles. Oh, they fell short of motorhomes, but hinted at the future of the smaller RVs we see on the roads today. As more and more people moved to the suburbs, lawn care products hit the scene. Lawn mowers, fertilizers and all manner of specialty hand tools marketed on television boosted sales of many American companies.

As the old Bufferin ads became dim memories, pharmaceutical companies began to advertise their wares. At first the ads were intriguing and informative. Most folks were accustomed to their family doctor packaging pills and cough syrup right in the office. Drug stores were for specialty medications, and some featured soda fountains and ice cream counters that inspire smiles from those of us lucky enough to have sat on a high stool and enjoyed a cool treat on a hot day!

I ignore the thirty second sales pitches for those products that save you time and effort in cleaning and cooking — let alone that wonderful concoction that can glue together a boat and skim across the water in complete safety.
If I concentrated on those ads, the column would be too long to read.

So, I focus on the carefully scripted ads for a wide variety of prescription drugs. Launched with flair and choreographed as well as any movie, these commercials have an element of education, to be sure. However, the cost of all this is passed on to the consumer. Few people ever consider that.

Considering the side effects given as these commercials end, it’s surprising that you would want to take any of them. One aside, however, is the value of the warnings stated within the ads. For example, it was only with this information in hand that I was able to understand what had happened to our puppy earlier this year. He had been given medication meant for older dogs and he was very sick.

The veterinary practice made good on all my expense, but the puppy could have been seriously harmed had I not heard the age range of the medication. It did not stop with the canine member of the family either.

Not too much before the incident with the dog, I had been given samples of a drug after a bout with a digestive problem. With my medical records in hand, clearly stating that I had had my gall bladder removed two years prior to the appointment, the prescriber sent me home with a medicine not meant for a patient lacking a gall bladder. Sadly, I did not view the commercial until much later. I had taken it for over a month and the sole reason I did not fill prescription was cost — over $1100 per month! That’s another axe to grind. Do medical professionals who write these prescriptions have any idea of the cost? I wonder. Even with insurance, many are not covered.

Well, we began with headache medications, yet today’s commercials boast a distinctively different flair. What began with the head clearly did not end there. No, indeed….

You must live under a rock if you haven’t taken note of the plethora of ads featuring the bathroom products. From the home test for colon cancer to the bears pushing using less tissue, we are immersed (poor term) in toilet paper. And then, of all things, here comes the ad for VI-Poo. Egad. Not only are we peppered with the “politically correct” tack on life itself, now we are urged (another bad term) to be “toiletry correct.”

Well, it only goes to show that there are highs and lows in advertising. By design, we remain the targeted audience for all of it. Ever wonder what could be around the corner? Leave it to the ad men to give us another chapter.

We’ve come a long way. In essence — heads to tails.