Or was it raining bankers?
There are all sorts of reasons to be dubious of these things. Have a look at this ad:
In their desperation to sell us things, advertisers sometimes get a little creative when describing the benefits of their products. Sometimes this works great, and we get to learn about the danger rabbits pose to our favorite breakfast cereal. But sometimes the ads don't make sense at all.
Did you have a sun lamp growing up? No? Then your parents didn't love you.
At least, that's according to GE and DuPont, who made these sun lamp thingies back in the earlier half of the 20th century. The logic behind these things is that sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D and something something here's a lamp. This is actually something of an issue in our modern era; our babies spend so much more time in front of the computer absorbing content that they aren't getting enough Vitamin D. But in the 1930s, was this really the best solution? Couldn't everyone simply go outside?
Don't do anything a doctor says if that doctor is a baby. That's common sense, people. Even worse is the ad for this one:
First of all, if the ghost of a nurse emerges from your sun lamp to discuss its benefits, something is definitely not on the up and up. Second and last of all, lamps cannot prevent the flu. We're on to your tricks, lamp-ghost.
The NRA famously advocates for gun manufacturers in America, and as you'd expect for a topic so politically charged, there are favorable and unfavorable ways to view them and their activities. We'll dance around that whole debate a little bit, and instead focus on one thing they've done which is a little hard to get behind: their advertising.
Holy shit! Rapists? Absent police? Criminals not queuing orderly? What a world we live in! And that's clearly the intent of the ads -- this is a dangerous world, so you'll need a gun to protect yourself.
The ads are a little inconsistent, though. While some of them suggest that you can always get the drop on an attacker if you're carrying a gun, one of them, in its haste to condemn your cowardly neighbors, seems to think you can't do that. Also, why should you worry about a rapist cutting your throat when one of the nearby robbers or murderers might end up taking care of him for you? They're not waiting in a line, after all.
You know that thing with men where they get disgusted when they see a small part of a woman's skin? You didn't know that? That sounds kind of absurd to you, like it's the exact opposite of how men feel about bare skin? Huh. It's almost like the people making the ads for Talon slide fasteners have no idea what they're talking about.
Because of the way hips work, women need the skirt to be a little bit wider than their waist, but because they also need it to fit tightly and not fall off, there are these gaps called "plackets," which get sealed with little buttons once the garment is on. They're meant to be concealed, though you might not have guessed how severe a problem it was until you saw the look of complete disgust on this guy's face:
What's happening here -- which medical experts evidently call "gap-osis" -- is that a woman is shifting in a certain way to leave gaps between these buttons, revealing her disgusting skin to the world. Look at this shameful shambles:
These days, this problem might be solved with something we call "better clothing design" or "a zipper," but back in the day, it was solved with a Talon slide fastener, which meant ... "a zipper." You might think this is a trivial thing to worry about, but you'd be wrong, and were you alive in the '40s, you'd also be doomed to walk the planet alone as a spinster.
Millennials get blamed for "killing" things all the time. Diamonds, golf courses -- really, anything which requires money. And buckle the fuck up, because we've got some more bad news for you: Douching is also on the decline. That's probably a good thing, incidentally, because douching isn't good for you. But if your entire business is selling douche, then it's obviously a cause for concern. Enter the marketing department, and oh, what have they brought with them:
If your vagina has such a strong odor that people in your workplace can smell it, you need a doctor, not some bullshit wipes. And if your bullshit wipes have such a strong scent that people in your workplace can smell them, you're using way too many of them. Or one's stuck to your shoe.
Asking for a raise is a stressful thing to do, and a world with a persistent wage gap poses a unique set of challenges to a woman. But instead of sponsoring a sane list of tips for getting a raise, Summer's Eve has instead brought us a nonsensical pitch for vagina wipes.
The Hummer was a car-shaped mountain that reached its peak in popularity in the mid-2000s, when cheap gas and hubris filled the land. But that wasn't enough for the marketers at GM, who sought to prey on anxiety about natural disasters with ads like this one:
In case you didn't click on that video because all things Hummer-related disgust and repel you, it's basically a bunch of apocalyptic imagery -- thunderstorms, floods, extreme wind conditions -- and the following copy:
After disaster strikes, most people run from point A to point B. Then there are a qualified few who run from point B to point A.
Then, over footage of a Hummer driving through a flooded street, they put the word "HOPE," which is an acronym for "Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies." This was a real group, by the way. It started as a group of Hummer owners who wanted to help out during natural disasters, using their Hummers to help deliver medical supplies and save damsels and what not. They were kindly rejected, but after setting up some training programs for participants -- first aid and driving -- they were ultimately treated as volunteer Red Cross members.
Despite the good intentions of the members, as an ad, this feels a little shady to us. Like it's more of an attempt to rebrand the reputation of Hummer owners from gas-guzzling, car-crushing jerks into something, anything else. Truck heroes? Sure, why not. Worse, it kind of feels like it's preying on people's childish hero fantasies, encouraging underprepared people to drive toward danger. There might be a reason the program isn't around anymore.
Did you know that one time Thermoses saved babies from dying? It's true, according to the unbiased people at Thermos, who at one point in their history used to love explaining how "a fly in the milk may mean a baby in the grave."
Look! Here they are at it again:
Now don't get us wrong, it is important not to give babies milk full of flies and leopards or whatever else stalked the landscape in the 1920s. But the tone of these ads is less "This can help your baby stay healthy!" and more "ALERT, ALERT, YOU WILL GO TO HELL IF YOU DON'T BUY OUR PRODUCT, YOU SELFISH, MISERLY ASSHOLE." Which is exactly what every parent needs after their baby is born: klaxon-like alarms and accusations.
And what is with these ads being weirdly obsessed with flies? How did that ad meeting play out? One executive all, "But isn't temperature-related milk spoiling more relevant?" and getting pelted to death with Thermoses by the crazed anti-fly faction? Would have made for a hell of a Mad Men episode.
We all know bad breath is a disaster, capable of ruining dates, interviews, and treaty negotiations. And if you didn't know, you could always check out this series of ads from Listerine, which pretty categorically state that not only do you almost certainly have bad breath, but you will also end up alone and unloved because of it.
Listerine made a ton of these ads, and their impact was huge. Have you heard the expression "always a bridesmaid, but never the bride"? Guess how that entered the popular culture? Fucking Listerine, that's how!
Men didn't get off entirely, either. According to Listerine, they could and would definitely be fired over their breath. Oh, and check out this one. Even when the ads take on a more positive tone, they have a knife hidden within them.
The kicker, as we've discussed before, is that Listerine damn near invented the term "halitosis" to use in these ads, leaning heavily on the implication that their product wasn't any old mouth soap, but was curing a medical condition. This tactic was so successful that it influenced the entire ad industry, instigating a new wave of fear-based advertising using what was eventually called the "halitosis appeal."
Oh! There's a second kicker! Listerine may well be bullshit and not cure bad breath! So if you were trying to save your marriage with it, that might not work. Sorry. Maybe try some flowers, or light bondage, or even a vagina wipe instead.
Nimby Smith has a Twitter, and, if any Hollywood agents are reading this, several scripts. And even if they aren't.
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