Something too good to be true usually is untrue

Whether watching television or YouTube or even reading posts from our fellow bloggers, we are hit with commercials. It will be interesting to see what commercial is tacked onto this post. As many of us know by now, most claims made by these commercials are usually too good to be true. I am reminded of an old Ziggy comic strip where he is seeing a company presentation on a new benefit package. His response is “Uh-oh. The nicer the communication material, the worse the message.” In a nutshell, Ziggy has summed up most commercials.

As I was cleaning up a mess this morning, I was once again reminded how the same brand of paper towel on a commercial, for some reason, is far more effective than the one in my hand. Or, the insurance companies with the cuter commercials tend to be the ones with the highest margins. If it quacks like a duck, you might want to do some comparison shopping. Or, the car commercials which are more on the attractiveness of the car and spokeswomen, than the elegance, reliability and cost effectiveness of the vehicle. If the car plays second fiddle to the spokeswoman, it is not a good deal.

On this last point, I understand all to well that sex sells. Clark Bar has some of the most evocative advertising using beautiful Italian women speaking something in Italian, I presume unrelated to a candy bar. The women close with a line in English about Clark candy bars. As an aside, I have seen these more on our WordPress posts. As I watch them, I keep visualizing a man being led down a hall with a sexy woman’s finger under his chin only to find out he is buying a candy bar. I must confess, they do get your attention, but are not successful in making me want to buy a Clark Bar.

Going back to something more boring, two supposedly strong financial service companies used to advertise that they gave you peace of mind – Washington Mutual (WaMu) and AIG. They were rock solid companies. During the financial crisis, WaMu was sold at a cut rate price before it went bankrupt and AIG had to be bailed out by the US government, as they reinsured many banks on risky mortgages packaged together and sold to investors. The rock solid image turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

The other commercials that give me concern are the empathetic, concerned young mothers that come off as very sincere as they tell you something that is largely untrue. The fossil fuel industry is using the same public relations people they used to convince everyone that global warming was a hoax to tell you how safe fracking is. The woman is quite convincing and you truly want to believe her. Yet, the truth is nothing as hard as fracking could be considered unsafe, even if the industry is doing their best to make it as safe as possible. The non-industry data is showing this time and again. But, even if it were safe, as BP showed in the Gulf of Mexico, it is only as safe as the worst operator.

Which brings me to campaign commercials. They have already started for an election that is over ten months away, some even began twelve months before the election. With the Supreme Court’s very poor decision throwing gasoline on a fire of unhindered campaign funding, we have been and will continue to be flooded with commercials making indicting comments most of which have untruths in them. To give you an example, FactCheck.org did a study of the  2012 Presidential race and noted that Romney commercials had an accuracy rate of around 1/3 and Obama commercials had an accuracy rate of 1/2.

Saying this differently, about 67% of the Romney commercials had untruths in them with about 50% of the Obama commercials having untruths. This does not even get into the other races where large indictments can be made because so and so supported something that has been portrayed as bad. So, if you assume this track record will continue as I do, why does it make sense to even watch a campaign commercial which at best is only 50% totally accurate? If you were making a bet, the best use of your time (or the best bet), would be not to watch. Which is what I do. I mute the sound and read something or go elsewhere until the show returns.

So, my message to everyone is save yourself much anguish and give yourself the gift of time. Mute all campaign commercials, period. It is truly not worth it. And, any commercial that looks to good to be true is more than likely untrue. I am sorry guys, you will not get the hot babe, if you buy her a Clark Bar.

7 thoughts on “Something too good to be true usually is untrue

  1. i disconnected from televisions over a dozen years ago and do not miss them at all! many family-owned small restaurants have televisions that blare during the noon hour, or when the novella/soap opera hour has approached. i dodge those restaurants if the television is too loud for my comfort level!

    i’d almost forgotten about commercials! i certainly don’t miss the political commercials! yow!local elections are underway, and the commercials for those are true people who sport the colors of their favorite party.. cars and trucks drive around with the banners, and entire facades of houses or long strips of fences are swathed with political graffiti that appear as magically as crop circles!

    are there any commercials that warn people about the dangers of msg, aspartame, an acid ph, or even fracking? probably few, as they aren’t selling a product – who would fund a commercial about goodwill?!

    i’ll take the croaking of the cormorants, which is the only background sound of this morning!… and maybe a clark bar, since i’ve not had one of those in about twenty years! they should put you on the payroll, as i’m probably not the only one who suddenly wanted a clark bar!

    • Z, I envy the no commercials. I think if we saw some of those commercials about acid ph and fracking, we would be better for it. I haven’t had a Clark bar in a long while. I am more of a Snickers person, especially when they are frozen. Thanks for writing. Ciao (I could not resist), BTG

  2. In recent years I have chosen to watch PBS and listen to NPR almost exclusively. I often worry about this one-sided approach, but when I try to watch network TV or listen to commercial radio, the ads are so loud, obnoxious, and revolting that I immediately switch to a an audio book, podcast, my own music, or publicly funded media. I am constantly amazed by the posts that pop up on Facebook, touting some idiotic product or luring “likes” by offering freebies.In some regards, I lead a sheltered life. But it is oh so much more peaceful and sane. BTW, I don’t see any ads on your site. Maybe I didn’t scroll down far enough. Maybe I won’t scroll down…:-)

    • Linda, I am with your on PBS and NPR. At dinner the other night, someone told me she watches Fox and MSNBC news to get the different takes on issues. I surprised her when I said I watch neither as I prefer to watch PBS and BBC and listen to NPR as I get the news from an unbiased perspective by people who know what they are talking about. I did not tell her this, but Fox and MSNBC are going to give you a biased view of topics, that may not be that important – whether Santa and Jesus are white, e.g. Even if the topic were important, I would much prefer the news from someone with no axe to grind.

      When I look on my mobile phone, I do see ads. Maybe they are not showing up on other devices. Thanks for the comments. BTG

  3. We don’t have network TV, just the streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Our news sources are what we read, such as TruthDig, RealNews, Huffington (for a laugh) Salon and NY Times, and Washington Post. You are correct that MSNBC is just as biased as Fox, just on the other side of the street.

    As I always say, look behind the curtain for the agendas and whats really going on.

    Good post

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