06 September 2012

Advertisements that only work due to ignorance and stupidity

I don't generally see a lot of ads, thanks to AdBlock on the computer and a RePlayTV unit that automatically skips them when I watch an occasional show, but between Hulu, the few that get past the RePlay's filters, and billboards, I can't seem to escape them entirely.
Which is fine, they are paying for me to have free content, some of them are entertaining, and every once in a great while actually informative.

But there are 3 out right now which grate against me so severely that the only way I'm going to be able to stop ranting in my own head about them is to rant on the internet.

They are deliberately relying on consumer's ignorance in order to try to convey a message which simply isn't there - the facts are technically accurate, but the implication is actually the exact opposite of reality.

1) The new milk campaign, attempting to discredit soy milk:

They list a bunch of scary sounding "chemicals" that soy milk contains, to contrast with cow milk, which according to the ingredient list has only one ingredient: "milk".
Never mind that the list of scary sounding chemicals they list consists almost entirely of vitamins and minerals which are actually quite healthy, or neutral at worst.

So, in the interest of fairness, here are some scary sounding chemicals that are present in cow's milk:

  • oligosaccharides
    pantothenic acid
    lipoprotein lipase
    inactivated alkaline phosphatase
    C16:0 ß-hydroxy fatty acids
    conjugated linoleic acid*
    blood serum albumin
    high proline micelle
Golly.  Don't all those chemicals sound unknown, and therefor scary? 

*(which is a TRANSfat omg!!!!!!!! - but wait, aren't transfats all man-made and added by the evil food industry????  What?  Some transfats are naturally occurring? How can that be, when everything natural is good and healthy, and all transfats are devil food??)

2) 5-hour energy:

73% "said they would recommend a low-calorie energy supplements to their healthy patients who used energy supplements. 73%!"
Wow!  That's a C- grade.
Ok, so never mind that 73% is not particularly impressive.

Never mind that if it has no calories it has no actual energy.  It may make you feel energetic, but the human body gets its energy from calories, not stimulants.  (Don't believe it, try going on a fast where you consume nothing but cocaine for a few months)

And never mind that almost 1/2 the doctors they tried to survey refused to participate in the first place...

They worded it pretty carefully.  Sounds like they handed out a survey that said "if you had a patient who was determined to take an energy supplement, would you recommend that it be low calorie?"
Well, sure, given that constraint, of course.
Just like IF you have a patient that smokes, you might recommend that at the very least they smoke light, filtered cigarettes.  That's not exactly an endorsement.
And even with that particular wording, 27% still wouldn't recommend it.
But wait - there's more!
If you read the fine print, even among those who would recommend low calorie energy supplements to patients who are going to take energy supplements anyway, after reviewing the ingredients of the specific 5-Hour Energy brand, 45% of them would NOT recommend it!  45%!

So, assuming that the 1/2 of doctors who refused to dignify their survey with an answer would not have been impressed, you have 50% (number who answered at all) x 73% (number who said yes to low calorie) x 55% (number of those who said yes to the brand) = 20% who actually said they would recommend the product IF a person was dead-set on using an "energy supplement".

We can only assume that the number who would recommend it to a patient who wasn't already on legal stimulants is approximately 0%

3) No On Beverage Tax

This is a local one, but similar measures are being proposed all over.
It isn't even a ballot measure yet, but the soda industry and retailers are fighting it preemptively.  In theory it would tax beverages with added sugar by one penny an ounce.

The ad claims that it would "hit the city’s poorest residents and the elderly the hardest"

Because, you know, poor people and old people are legally mandated to drink nothing but soda. 
Or is it that their unique physiological properties make it that the empty calories in soda are actually a nutritional requirement? 

Ah, I know - some people are SO poor that, not only aren't there supermarkets nearby with real juice, they don't have running water, so their only source of liquid is the soda they buy at the gas station.

Wait... what?  Gas stations and corner stores sell not only 100% juice, but also bottled water? Hmm....

Whoa, whoa, whats that!?  Running water is legally required in all rental units, including the projects and even homeless shelters, and many if not most renters don't actually pay for metered water?  Are you saying all these poor people could actually be drinking water for FREE?

And even if one does pay metered rate for tap water, its cost is between one half to 5 cents a gallon?  Now you are just being silly. 
That would mean that even without the tax, generic brand soda costs roughly 35 times as much as tap water for the exact same nutritional value. 
Gosh, so maybe drinking water would save more money than traveling to a city without a beverage tax to find cheap soda, as the ad campaign suggests is the only possible alternative.

I suppose its good that we have any truth in advertising laws at all, but I really think we need to take the next step and ban "technically accurate but deliberately deceptive and misleading in it's implications" advertising as well.

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