It is slightly difficult for me to comment on the quality of TV adverts as here in the UK I don’t really watch much TV. And if I do, and I’m eating, then it’s normally the news which doesn’t have ad breaks.
But in general, the adverts over here seem more absurd than anything. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen them, but frequently they don’t make a lot of sense to me. There’s one running these days for a brand of chewy children’s sweets, that has children’s voices dubbed over the adults. the sweets come in all sort of shapes that don’t make any sense to me either – eggs, flying saucers, bears, that sort of thing – and I find the children’s voices particularly disturbing.
But the thing is you don’t get a lot of advertising for the sorts of personal items The Mom’s talking about. It’s only when I’m at home that I see these things, and frequently they lead me to running into whichever room The Mom’s in, re-enacting the advert as best I can because I won’t remember what it was for, and then launching into something of a tirade.
What gets me more than advertising for things that are intimate in nature – I mean, we’ve had Tampax adverts for ages and they’re pretty personal – are the ads for medicines. You can’t do that over here, and you can’t do it on a Canadian network either, although they do make an exception for the birth control pill which is sensible. I believe – or I’d like to think – that the reasoning is such that since the majority of the general public does not hold a medical degree, we probably shouldn’t be left to our own devices to pick out what kind of meds we should be on.
Sometimes the ailments these treatments are touted as fixing seem pretty made up to me too. Now, not suffering from them, I can’t say for sure, so apologies if you suffer from these things, and can attest to their realness and the detriment they cause to your life. But I do think that restless leg syndrome is pretty much made up. Unless the big pharma companies are talking about curing the notion of Wanderlust, I think having a bit of a twitch in your legs is probably just from being sat in front of a screen so long that your legs are atrophying. In which case, you might be better off going for a walk instead of taking a pill with a list of side effects that’s staggering. If the advert is two minutes long, guaranteed the listing of the side effects – always done with calming music playing and a gentle pastel colour palette – takes up a minute and a half you know you’re in trouble.
Except, I wonder if people do. Do people really go to their doctor and say, “Doc, I saw this advert on the telly last night and man alive I’m glad I did because I didn’t know I wasn’t the only one suffering from made-up-itis!”
If I were a proper doctor, I’d start handing out tic tacs to people and telling them they were the only pill they’d ever need. I could charge £25 a pill and be rich by the end of the month. Thing is, this is probably already happening to a certain cynical degree.
At some point during my schooling, I must have studied advertising, or at least some of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. And I feel this sort of education should be mandatory for everyone. The advertising folk need to get you to buy the shit their selling, so they need to make you think you need it. There’s a lot of stuff we didn’t used to have that we now have because of this principle.
Top on my list of made up reasons to buy something is an advert I’ve seen recently from the good people at Dove who want to make sure that my under arms – not my armpits because those are yucky and nice girls don’t have them – are as smooth as they can be, thus ensuring a lifetime of happiness or being bathed by unicorns or whatever. Their soap will not give me the underarms I’ve long been dreaming of.
What scares me most is that someone, somewhere believes this sort of thing. Or feels better knowing their underarms are a thing of beauty. I don’t know when I last took a good long look at someone’s underarms or even my own. I mean, they’re not really a feature of the human body are they?
Anyhow, I can’t wait to see what awaits me in August when I’m at home. What new diseases will have been invented and cured in my eight-month absence?