New Year Resolutions – Advertising

To promote and further the general welfare and public tranquility, we offer the following New Year’s Resolutions. They are not for us, of course – everybody knows personal resolutions are window dressing, made to be broken. For the further self-aggrandizement and benefit of the advertising industry, then, here is our Code of Conduct for radio and television spots:

1) No ringing telephones. The use of a ringing phone sound is the shabbiest contrivance for attracting the attention of the listener or viewer. Since roughly twenty years ago (the advent of serious telemarketing), a ringing telephone means somebody wants to sell you something. Even normally gullible people tune out ads after they identify the source of a ringing phone sound to be a commercial. I, for one, can’t give you a single example of an advertiser that does this, but I hate it.

2) Owners of Car Dealerships shouldn’t do their own ads. As proud of their dealerships as they may be, sometimes it pays to shell out real money for a professional service. Even on the radio, it is easy to visualize the plaid jacket, red pants, yellow power tie and saddle shoes of a real bring-your-wife-and-checkbook gladhander. Listening to a dealer-owner recite his own ad is like listening to Uncle Harry retell the same old joke after he’s had one tee many martoonis.

3) No Phoney Rock Jingles! If you have ever, even once, seen those awful Cadillac Escalade ads, you already know what I mean. The faux rock ‘n roll background jingle is supposed to convince paunchy middle-aged men that girls’ heads will swivel when they see him driving his equally overstuffed Escalade. The heads will swivel, all right – in the opposite direction. Another example are the awful “Food Max” ads run on our local classical music FM station. It sounds like the ad budget would only support hiring someone’s tipsy relative to do the singing – probably, Uncle Harry and his pals at the bowling alley.

4) “But hurry, you must act promptly”. This hackneyed old line must go back to the patent medicine days. The subtext is that if we think about it for a second or two, we’ll realize why we shouldn’t even listen to such drivel. Invariably, it means “we only have enough money to keep our doors open two more days.” Why do we always hear these ads run two hours after store closing on the last day of the sale?

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