By Steve Murch
Back in the 1990s, there was an episode of “Friends” where Joey took part in an ad campaign designed to educate the public on sexually transmitted diseases. When the posters came out everyone thought he had an STD. I haven’t seen that episode since it aired but every time I see an ad these days, I chuckle.
I’ve never thought the people in commercials were anything but actors. However, I guess some people do since most of the ads include testimonials saying, “These are actors!”
But, the commercials that drive me nuts are the drug ads. “Side effects may include a runny nose, headaches, fever, projectile vomiting, loss of limbs and death.” Projectile vomiting? I think I’d rather stick with being sick than taking a drug that would actually cause me to vomit like a lawn sprinkler.
I heard a commercial the other day that stated not to take the drug if you are allergic to the drug. It seems obvious but I have a couple of questions. How exactly are you supposed to know you are allergic to the drug in advance? It seems like people usually find out they are allergic to something by ingesting it? And once a person discovers they are allergic, who in their right mind is going to keep taking it? I know, if you don’t state it someone will sue.
Maybe it’s because I want to do something during the commercials while waiting for a program to come back on, or because I’m just odd, but I read the fine print that flashes on the screen. It’s always funny that the automobile advertisers have to run “Professional stunt driver on a closed course. Do not try this on your own,” or something along those lines. Is there really some backwoods redneck “Dukes of Hazard” fan who is watching think “Damn, that looks like fun. I think I’ll try it”? Maybe there is.
A few years ago Nissan had an ad for its Murano that stated the vehicle used in the commercial was the Canadian version. I don’t know if there was anything shown that would make a difference, but it struck me as odd that they were showing a version of a vehicle you couldn’t purchase in the States. I’m sure there probably would be someone (and there always is) who would know the difference. The ad probably gave Nissan an out if someone decided to make a big deal about it, i.e. sue.
Then there is a new Audi e-tron SUV ad that is clearly American. Yet there it is, the disclaimer: European charging port shown. Why would they show a port not used or available in America in the commercial? Is the North American version hideous looking and they don’t want anyone to know until they buy it? Are they still ironing out issues? What do you have to hide, Audi?
I know I’m nerdy to watch for those things. I guess I have to find some way to clear my mind from the non-stop Amazon and Old Navy Christmas ads that keep wanting me to get hooked on their jingle so I’ll purchase products from them.
The only alternative is to avoid television altogether. But TV programs hooked me a long time ago, and I’m too old to stop now. Besides, how can I know what I can’t do without if TV ads don’t tell me?
Steve Murch is a former managing editor and award-winning columnist for The Alpena News. He’s a lifelong Michigan resident, a broken and defeated fan of the Detroit Lions, and a forever optimistic fan of the Detroit Tigers. His column will appear most Thursdays.