The death of advertising

Ask yourself, when's the last time you watched an advertisement which told you something you didn't know about the featured product, or offered a compelling reason to buy it?

The most distressing trend on TV for me is the pervasive promise of happiness and social acceptance from every product from insurance to fried chicken drumsticks.

Advertisers are correct on a base level, in that we all want happiness, and the basic idea is that you'll be prepared to pay to feel happy (something like underarm deodorant prostitution).

Where they lose their way, however, is that it's too superficial: how do you choose between two deodorants, when both promise to make you insanely happy and irresistible to women (if only it was that easy!)?

I want to choose a bank because they can prove to me that their internet banking will save me five minutes every time I log on, compared to competitors'. I want to buy a car because its air-bags deploy a split second faster and are moulded better to reduce injury. I want granular detail which is indisputable.

Instead ALL banks are willing to offer us 'cheque account with credit card, bonus points and free access to Internet banking', and ALL car manufacturers assure us that they have airbags fitted.

This makes me wonder, how long does it take for a fact to be publicly known before advertisers will stop feeling they should mention it in their adverts?

There's a tipping point at which any new product needs to be publicised, which is one of the functions of an advertisement, but after that all the advertiser is left to do is repeat the same message in different means.

I seriously doubt that some budget hatchbacks airbags are anything like the airbags in a premium sedan, so why do advertisers just stop at telling us that there are airbags? Why should I buy a car just because you show me a picture of some smiling guy driving the car, with a smiling woman next to him?

Frankly it's insulting, and it's a gratuitous waste of my time considering how we're consistently assaulted by advertising. Imagine how much we could learn, if every single advertising message had to contain at least one educational fact!

Here's a silly example: "Brand x margarine is good for your heart. It was enjoyed by astronauts who landed on the moon in 1962."

That fact - moon landing in 1962 - at least gave me some general trivia, and maybe added something interesting to get me thinking about spaceflight when I look at the margarine instead of just ticking the little 'good for my heart' check box that all margarines are promising on their tubs.

Here's to a petition against poorly-conceptualised and stereotype-rich adverts that don't tell us anything about the product they're meant to, but do let us know that the marketing manager who went ahead and approved the advert is grossly unimaginative and/or thinks you're catatonic.
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
34% - 841 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
66% - 1617 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.36
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.55
+0.5%
Rand - Euro
17.13
+0.7%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.87
+0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.5%
Gold
1,806.73
-0.7%
Silver
22.90
-2.6%
Palladium
2,329.50
-0.2%
Platinum
1,028.50
-0.6%
Brent Crude
89.96
+2.0%
Top 40
67,070
-0.4%
All Share
73,504
-0.4%
Resource 10
75,094
-0.2%
Industrial 25
90,477
-1.1%
Financial 15
15,064
+0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE