Are You A Human Being? Then You Should Read This Column!
Welcome to the column for all carbon-based life-forms.
If you breathe oxygen, this is for you.
And if you live on a planet, especially Earth, well, then, you’ve come to the right place.
Sorry, but I’m just following the new trend in advertising: casting as absurdly wide a net as possible.
Products used to be advertised to a fairly specialized base. Each ad could be counted on to pander in its own unique way.
You’d have your commercials aimed at seniors, in which someone sincere who was on TV when it was still seen only in black-and-white would give a testimonial about the product.
Said commercial would end with the person looking into the camera and intoning something to the effect of, “And you know why I, Wilford Brimley, recommend Aunt Bea’s Fiberrific Oatmeal? (Dramatic pause.) Because I eat it, too.”
Then there were the opposite extremes — the ads aimed at kids and adolescents. You’d get loud music; quick cuts; scenes of people skateboarding off the rails at the Grand Canyon; some cute, acne-free twentysomethings posing as teens; and a voice-over guy yelling the merits of NEW! EXTREME! INSAAAAAAAANE! CHEET-OS!
Somewhere in between, you had ads aimed at guys (which usually featured attractive women, or athletes giving a testimonial) and ads aimed at women (which usually featured attractive athletes, or women giving a testimonial).
But somewhere along the way, marketers, in their zeal to lure customers, started to get increasingly desperate — and vague.
One automobile company markets its SUV/minivan/whatever it’s calling its human transport right now as “the car for life.” The car for life — because so many other cars are made for zombies, vampires, ghosts or the traditionally dead. I think most cars, aside from the hearse, are made for life, but maybe that’s just me.
Then there’s “the TV for men and women.” I’m really glad they finally made one of those. I’d grown tired of having to share the tube with my dogs, who tend to want to watch “Lassie” and Animal Planet over and over.
And those electronics companies were so arrogant about ignoring humans. Heck, RCA even blatantly rubbed it in our faces by making sets that were tailored to specific canines — Jack Russell terriers — and then to completely chap us, it put two of the condescending mutts in its logo.
But it’s not just big-ticket items getting the universal-net treatment.
I kid you not, this is a direct quote from the Colon Cleanse infomercial playing on late-night TV these days: “Anyone who has an intestinal tract, AND anyone who eats, needs to watch this!” Now THAT’S called targeting a very specific market. Boy, there are demographers out there who are seething with envy after hearing that.
But there are always loopholes, and the hard-hitting questioners in the crowd of an infomercial can consistently be counted on to find them. I can imagine the exchange…
Audience member: “Uhhh, yeah, uhhh, I have an intestinal tract, but I don’t eat. I manufacture nourishment through photosynthesis. Is Colon Cleanse still for me?”
Program shill: “Of course. Half-man, half-vegetable swamp things ALSO need to be detoxified on a regular basis.”
Cue star soaring across the screen, trailing NBC Peacock rainbow bearing the slogan “The More You Know …” Although in that case, perhaps the less you know, the better.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to end this column for all readers.
After all, I have two jealous dogs to taunt and zombie hitchhikers to avoid.
Copyright 2021 Sean Leary / for more writing see www.seanleary.com