My daughter and I were sitting in our favorite restaurant recently, starving after a day of shopping, when she picked up the packet to sweeten her tea. "Mom", she asked, "Does this really cause cancer?".
It's a valid concern, after all, it's what she's learned so often via all manner of media. Especially to a young mind, blank and absorbant like a sponge, advertisings and warnings are even more meaningful and more apt to register.
My answer to her was that no one really knows, that some mean lab assistants held rats down and force fed them sweetened iced tea til they died. How do we really know what our limits are? It's just a warning that must be placed on most products now to avoid liability. Years from now when someone gets cancer they will filter through the long list of possible carcinogenics attempting to find one to blame (and sue) that didn't say, "nyah nyah we warned you". Then again, some of them go beyond ridiculous!!
I confess to being a commercial-aholic, enraptured by most of the humorous advertisements on television and radio. Present as its star player an animal and I'm hooked for every viewing, toss in a child and it's guaranteed to capture my attention. On the flip side, however, I'd venture to guess that 80% of the time I cannot tell you what is being advertised. For the life of me right now I can't be sure which tick product I saw this morning but darned if that dog singing wasn't the cutest thing I've seen in a long long time!
Newspaper and magazine ads, and more currently those displayed on web pages rarely get more than a haphazard glance, if that. These are a distraction from the story I'm reading or the page I'm viewing and I can't be bothered.
Yet, should I take the time to view the printed ad, I do actually retain the information. It's the glitz that grabs my attention on the television or radio, but the more complex and informative publicity that teaches me.
I do rely on the information I can get about a product to help me decide what to buy, and I do seek it out when I'm looking. It's not only advertising, it's information. Merchandising is not just a trick of the trade by merchants, it can be your tool as well.
The difficulty is in knowing who to believe. For every proponent of Product A, there is an equal number of those preferring Product B. How can each headache remedy claim to be the best, how can this well known and well compensated person swear by 'Tylenallthis', and this one swear by 'Excedrinisthat' and expect me to make a decision? Do I choose by virtue of my favorite actress? While I'm on the subject of pills...how DOES a pill know whether to travel to your head or your back or your legs or your feminine areas? While I'm on the subject of that, do they really HAVE to talk about THAT on tv?
Sorry, I tend to get unfocused some days. If only I could remember what that woman was selling in that commerical for the herbal thingie that helps you think clearer...
It is this same type of hype that plays into the drug use of kids. Who gets them first? The good guys who say "no no bad drug" or the pushers who say "feel good, feel important"? Tell me advertising doesn't work when you look at it this way.
There is a great controversy about subliminal messages used in merchandising from the serious to the humorous but it's out there and we are listening. If I went to the store and walked down the aisle, I'd likely spy the herbal thingie, my mind would dredge it up as soon as I saw the words on the bottle. We hear when we don't even know we are listening. I'm not sure how husbands are exempt from that, but that's another tale.
Consider the millions of dollars spent during just one Super Bowl game. Marketing directors are paid countless dollars to promote a product with a budget of countless dollars; these aren't stupid people, they know what they're doing. If it wasn't working they wouldn't continue to do it.
Stores are planned to route you a certain way for a certain reason. There's a method to the gadgets, gizmos and gum by the checkouts...a lot of money to be made on impluse buying.
There's no doubt in my mind that we are influenced each day of our lives by what we see; not always intentional advertising...just by merely seeing someone using, doing, wearing, we want it. Walk past diners as you are being led to your table in a restaurant and you find yourself thinking, "That looks good". You may have gone in to have fettucine, but you leave full of chicken cesear salad, because you were influenced by a vision.
Studies can be slanted and weighted to prove the worth, the obvious 'best' of each product. People can be paid to tout or even lie about a product. It's impossible for every car dealer to have the lowest prices. Someone has to be higher or equal. Yet the claim is there, laid out on our tv screens luring us in. We do more, we do less, we do it best. Spend your money here.
And we do.
For every argument against - there is one for, as this article for Jackhammer declaring the value of advertising in swaying our thoughts. I bet that one of you reading this is thinking I'm full of baloney.
But if advertising DIDN'T really work, why would the rest of you suddenly have the urge to sing ..."My baloney has a first name...it's O S C A R..."?