Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Love Those 50's Commercials
I hate today's TV commercials. They are loud and irritating and, thanks to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, they run those spoken caveats at the end of the ad; caveats that are spoken so quickly the human ear cannot comprehend them...or, when in print, are so small you couldn't possibly read and understand it in the 15 seconds allotted to meet FCC rules.
I especially hate those drug company commercials that are designed to get you to mention it to your doctor and drive sales. But, because the FDA makes these drug companies list all of the side effects, you kind of figure you're better off with whatever condition they were designed to cure.
All of us know today's TV ads are dishonest as hell and are really no better than those we "elders" use to see on the boob tube in the 50's. The big difference between then and now is that the old 50's commercials made us feel safe and made us eager to try the product being hyped.
Let's take cigarettes for example. Today you won't find many ads for cigarettes. They've pretty much been banned on TV and for most of the print media. But back in the 50's, when 80% of America smoked cigarettes, the big tobacco companies went to great lengths to explain how smokes were cool, stylish...and actually good for you! It seems inconceivable to us now but back then all of the tobacco companies had armies of doctors on the payroll to promote cigarette smoking. The Doc would appear in print or TV and praise the smoothness of a particular brand..and how you would never suffer from "harsh throat" because their cigarettes were smooth..."and they are mild". Doctors further advised that, when you are facing the stress of work or the day's ever-present conflicts, you need to lean back and smoke a Lucky or a Camel and your BP and heart rate would return to normal. You felt great knowing you were following "doctor's orders".
Then along came the nation's Chief Doctor, the Surgeon General, who came out in 1965 and informed the nation that smoking causes lung cancer! WTF! Lung Cancer? You mean that rosy-cheeked doctor who told me more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette was lying? How could this happen?
And it wasn't just cigarettes! In the 50's, if we used Head and Shoulders we would rid ourselves of dreaded dandruff immediately! Serutan was a laxative that was "nature spelled backwards" and would assure you a gentle, hell even enjoyable bowel movement! If you drank Coca Cola you could advance world peace, if you drank Dr. Pepper you were a "pepper" who surfed and swam with nubile young bikini-clad girls who would do anything to make you happy. Pepsi tried mightily to outsell Coke by giving you four additional ounces; "Pepsi Cola hits the spot, 12 full ounces and that's a lot!"
In the 50's Kellogs and Post and General Mills were "pushers", hooking America's kids on Silly Rabbits,
Tony the Tiger, Yogi Bear, Sugar Bear and all manner of cuddly icons that assured parents that breakfast cereal would provide energy for your kids throughout the day...and indeed they did provide a burst of energy...about an hour after eating those 20 spoonfuls of sugar in a bowl of Sugar Smacks! Your kids would be on a sugar high that was quite the thing to see!
Yes, I miss all those old 50's commercials. They provided the hope that, if we consumed the products, we would be healthy, handsome, hearty and just make us damn fine people!
The FDA has just recently won a court ruling that forces cigarette makers to portray black lungs, smokers with holes in their throats, smokers with leathery brown faces on packs of their cigarettes. Drug companies promoting an osteoporosis drug must now tell you that your risk of cancer increases by taking the drug, Head and Shoulders have stopped telling you they can cure dandruff.
Sigh, I miss the old days when, if you were having a bad day, you could pop a stick of Doublemint gum in your mouth, sit back and imagine those nubile young Doublemint twins with tight sweaters and "snow-cone" bras telling you how handsome and cool you are.