Dave Richards for February 13th…………….
--I’m glad to see the Woonsocket City Council realized the damage being caused by the two vacancies on the Woonsocket School Committee and took the high road, giving the Mayor the appointment of Steven Lima she wanted. They were hoping she would join them on the high road and offer an appointment for Donald Burke, but that didn’t happen. I’m still feeling a certain satisfaction bordering on pride that even in a highly charged political atmosphere, the City Council as a group refused to play a game of “Chicken” at the expense of others. I applaud the council’s action last Thursday.
--I’ve been in the broadcasting business for a lot of years. And because advertising messages are such a big part of my business I’ve seen a lot of commercials over a lot of years, too. Sometimes I’ve written commercials myself. We do work very hard to accurately describe the product or service of the advertiser. It is not our intent to “trick” anyone into making a purchase they wouldn’t be happy with.
Some think that the federal government has a department whose job it is to insure that advertising is always fair and honest. Well, there is such a group, but they don’t go around checking out everybody’s ads, they usually wait until somebody complains before they step in. For a very long time this has been good enough. But I’m not so sure it is anymore.
Over the years commercials have tried to be clever, memorable, and informational while still suggesting a solution to a problem you may have or maybe a nice place to eat. Sometimes this is done with memorable jingles or phrases like “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is” or “Where’s the beef?! “ or “Good To The Last Drop.” I’m sure most of you can even tell me what those ads were selling. But today, an alarming number of ads are so poorly aimed or so intent on making the viewer “feel” something which has little to do with what the sponsor sells that they become ineffective. In addition, many have resorted to out and out misleading the audience about the offer being made.
The very expensive (to put it mildly) ads in each year’s Super Bowl broadcast have over the years been the place where the best and most creative ads are broadcast. However, this year a panel of ad experts rated the ads seen during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast as the worst ever in terms of sponsor recognition and message retention.
My concern is that as more and more bad commercials flood the airwaves, that fewer and fewer people will be scrutinizing the ads they see because they are either considered predatory, false, or just plain uninteresting.
Predatory? False? Well, here’s where I express an opinion because I don’t want to be sued by the companies involved. You make up your own mind if the people trying to get you to invest in silver who show a graph on the screen where the price of silver at one time was higher than it is now are misleading you when they tell you that if you buy now and the price goes up to that high level again that you will make a lot of money. This is, of course, true but completely misleading because nobody knows that the price will go up to that level or why it dropped, but they imply you will make a ton of money if you do as they say.
Then there’s the insurance company which tries to make themselves look friendly and caring by saying if you bought automobile insurance with them and had a wreck with your new car that the full replacement cost will be given to you with no depreciation. They make it sound as if they are the only company which offers this feature and all their customers get it. The truth is every insurance company I am familiar with offers such coverage but at additional cost and they have for many, many years. No laws were broken in those ads, but in my opinion a false impression was clearly given to the viewer.
So where am I going with all this? I’m trying to tell you to be careful and to be vigilant. Scrutinize advertising messages. If they don’t add up for you, either ask questions until they do, or disregard the messages. Do not be a victim of less-than-forthright advertising. If everyone did this, the number of advertising messages which employ these methods would be reduced, as the advertisers come to realize they’re not fooling anyone.
--A long time ago I used to write comedy. Sometimes we actually wrote fake commercials meant to poke fun at that real ones. The trouble is today’s ads sound so much like our fake ones from years ago. See if this sounds familiar to you.
“When you stand, do your feet touch the floor? When you smile, do your teeth show? Take our new pill, and be sure to advise your physician if you die.” Be careful out there.
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.