I work from home, and I always have the radio or TV providing background noise. This means I hear lots of commercials every day. Have you ever noticed how frightening the messages have become?
Do we smell, or is death imminent due to some common affliction?
I’ve never been a fan of horror movies, but I now realize they’re probably less scary than most of today’s commercials. Where the commercials of the olden days gently focused on the advantages of choosing a certain product, current branding hits viewers over the head with the dangers of not using a product. Here are some examples of what I hear on a daily basis:
- Snoring is no longer just an annoyance to others in the room. It apparently leads to everything from diabetes to cancer. Without a CPAP or another device, snorers will die.
- Prescription medications are needed to help men be men, post-menopausal women be women, or anyone who prefers not to visit every bathroom in the vicinity. But listen carefully to the warnings, and you will learn the side effects are worse than the affliction. Yes, you can die from the cure as well.
- Smoking cessation pills are apparently more effective than their nicotine replacement counterparts – as long as they don’t cause you to commit suicide. Depression cures seem to have the same unintended consequences.
- Deodorants and antiperspirants don’t seem to have any side effects. This is good, when you consider that failure to use them can lead to loss of friends and the general inability to dance due to stains. And don’t forget to buy the right product for the right body part.
- Skin moisturizers are no longer just for women, as evidenced by a certain basketball player who promotes one brand. But you have to go with a prescription if you want to end the heartbreak of psoriasis.
- Gold and silver are an absolute requirement for anyone looking to survive financially because the national debt is “catastrophic.” (Actually, I sort of agree with this one, but I can’t figure out what my change will look like when I pay for my groceries with an ounce of gold.)
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to add too much to your fears. Without a doubt, countless studies have shown that products sell better when consumers are frightened. But I desperately want to go back to the days when deodorant soaps just got your day off to a good start, Mikey proved that children can like nutritious cereal, and the closest thing to drug ads were really funny Alka Seltzer commercials.
Am I imagining the prevalence of scare tactics in commercials?
Unless you’re a baby boomer, you may not recognize the notable change in advertising. My extensive YouTube research seems to indicate the trends changed in the 80s. But if you, too, have noticed that you now need the help of a psychologist just to watch today’s advertising, I’d love to hear about it. Post your comments below … or I’m pretty sure I will die.