Icky Ads May Disappoint, But Consumers' Cluelessness Rarely Does
I know these are troubling times: We're days past a disappointing State of the Union address, Rupert Murdoch is about to buy another major American newspaper and good journalists by the scores are getting downsized right out of the profession.
BUT - after seeing a parade of ads for stool softeners, nasal decongestants, erectile dysfunction products and foot fungus remedies, I had to speak out. Hence, today's oddball Floridian story about marketers who have tried making cutesy cartoon chracters out of mucus, boogers and foot fungus (this link leads to a parody site).
I'm speaking, of course, of the Mucinex commercials starring Mr. Mucus and his Mucus family, the Lamisil commercials starring Digger the Dermatophyte and the Afrin commercials starring unnamed characters who look suspiciously like....um...nose candy. (Times editors wouldn't let me sneak in the phrase, "a substance with a name which starts with b and rhymes with sugar").
Worse, these commercials often air during the evening news, when you're most likely to be stuffing food in your mouth. The cynical among us assume that advertisers are willing to do anything to get your attention -- even if it puts you off your dinner for a few days.
Best of all, I got an email today from a local doctor who said he "had a patient ask me for help getting rid of the creatures under his toenails. FInally figured out he meant the fungus, but was referring to Digger."
Indeed, you'll rarely go broke underestimating the intelligence of -- or the tolerance for icky humor among -- the American viewing public.
-- Love, love, LOVE Jack Shafer's take on "unspeak" -- words or phrases which contain an entire, unspoken political argument. These are words journalists should avoid or use carefully, because they embed assumptions about issues with little chance for argument. Some examples: pro-choice, pro-life, tax relief, collateral damage, coalition forces, regime change and so on.
-- There's some lessons for the media industry in kiddie cable channel Nickelodeon's Digital Family survey. Some highlights: about 25 percent of kids and parents think they don't need printed dictionaries; 44 percent of parents and 52 percent of kids don't need to remember phone numbers; 31 percent of kids don't find a need to listen to the radio; 45 percent of kids and 55 percent of parents see no need to buy CDs anymore; 58 percent of parents say TV helps them relax; 75 percent of kids say TV helps them escape from stress.
So pull your money out of radio, record stores and record companies, put it into TV manufacturers and TV outlets.
-- American Idol keeps obliterating the competition in ratings. No show last night scored above a 3 rating against Idol, which averaged more than 33-million viewers again Tuesday and Wednesday. So far, it doesn't matter that some hardcore Idol fans are disappointed with the extended audition shows, which have featured a tiring parade of freaky folks and also-rans for eight hours in four nights.