8 Things That Should Never Be Advertised On TV

I do not read advertisements. I would spend all my time wanting things. ~Franz Kafka

In this recession economy I’ve cut back on a lot of things. Not just the obvious (my stable of Ferraris, my LearJet and my cabana boy named Paolo) but the little things. TV was first on the chopping block. The idiot box and I have a troubled relationship to start with. It wants to make me more of a consumer. If I obeyed its siren song, before long I’d look like one of those futuristic Weebles from the movie WALL-E.

And what is TV these days but mediocre shows punctuated by ever more ads? Yes, I know about DVR and the controversial ad blockers. However, I have neither the money nor the patience to bother with either one. If, on that rare occasion when I do sit down to watch a baseball game, I’m stuck watching ads for everything from cholesterol medications to drain cleaner. And it’s also an election year in the US, meaning I also have to endure the shameless pandering of candidates who already won’t get my vote.

Some people say ads are all-American. The companies wouldn’t advertise if a market didn’t exist for their product or service. I tend to agree with Kafka: all the ads do is create artificial demand. Would I crave a specialty gourmet tea if a bright, shiny spokesperson didn’t tell me about it? I’d probably just want my same old boring chamomile blend.

That being said, I’ve narrowed down my list of ad taboos to eight. I realize this will never happen, but if I were in charge for the FCC for just one day, I’d make damn sure it did. These are the ads of nightmares, of shattered dreams and the decline and fall of America. And I’m sure you’ll recognize at least one of your least favorites.

Ads that should never be allowed on television (or anywhere else, for that matter):

#1: Politics, no matter what party or special interest group

Remember when politicians actually won over voters through intelligent discussion, thoughtful rhetoric and gentlemanly conduct? Neither do I. Instead, we now have to suffer through months of thirty-second mudslinging soundbites that are supposed to somehow change our minds. I’d like to skip all that and just have the bastards fight to the death one month before the election a la The Hunger Games. At least we’d know the last person standing was a tough customer, and it would save a lot of taxpayer money.

#2: E.D. medications

Reason #891 why I’m glad I’m not a mom? Not having to explain to my son or daughter during an afternoon ballgame what erectile dysfunction is and why it is being mentioned during what used to be family hour. I despise all ads for prescription medicines, but these are the worst of a bad lot. (You’ll notice the ads never show the kinds of overweight, pasty guys who usually need the stuff in the first place.)

#3: Feminine hygiene products

I almost went with toilet paper here. It’s the same basic idea. We know what these products do. We don’t need ads to tell us. If we’re raised right we never even talk about them above a nervous whisper. On those rare occasions when we’re torn between Kotex and Stayfree, we’ll flip a coin or see who has the better coupon. We won’t do a test where we pour some magical blue liquid to see which one absorbs more.

#4: Creepy children’s dolls

As a whole I’m against ads targeting children. The poor tykes aren’t old enough to know they don’t really need some piece of plastic made by Chinese sweatshop workers, so let ’em stay ignorant. These are the ads that not only launched a million consumers in training, but (at least for me) a million nightmares.

#5: Organized religion

I’m pretty sure that if Jesus showed up today, he wouldn’t like the idea of his likeness being hawked around like a postcard or a souvenir mini baseball bat. I place religion into the category of politics: it’s just not something you talk to strangers about until you develop a level of trust. I also doubt Jesus would like the idea of spending millions of dollars on slick TV ads which might otherwise feed and clothe those in need.

#6: Any product “As Seen On TV!”

Some of these products might actually be useful. Personally I think most of them are the kind of things you get at a White Elephant sale, use once or twice, then sell at the yard sale two years later for a quarter. (Seriously, when was the last time you used your Sno-Cone maker or Pasta Perfect?)

#7: Coronaries on a plate

With obesity, heart disease and diabetes at all-time highs, I vote to permanently get rid of these caloric bombs. Don’t get me wrong, I like to treat myself once in a while, but judging by these kinds of ads, there are no fat people anywhere in the world. At least not in the vicinity of the local fast food joint.

#8. Any non-pet-related product using puppies to sell itself

Wanna sell diapers? Show some fluffy golden retriever puppies with a baby. Car insurance? Puppies. Colostomy bags? By Jove, I bet you could sell those with puppies. I’m sorry, but puppies are so shamelessly cute, they should be restricted to dog food and rawhide bones. They don’t know they’re selling something abjectly distasteful, do they?

What are your least favorite ads on TV? Any limits you think should be set the way some countries have? Lemme hear ya!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on July 18, 2012.

23 Responses to “8 Things That Should Never Be Advertised On TV”

  1. Thanks for liking my GPS quote. I’d add — viagra commercials and other health related topics that are just TMI!

  2. Great post. I don’t watch TV (because I have a life of my own, and don’t need to watch someone else have one — also, I’m just a freak like that), so don’t see a lot of these. But judging by the number of “World’s Greatest Ads” style shows around, I wonder whether the ads themselves aren’t more interesting than most of the shows themselves?

    (Sporting matches obviously excepted.)

    • Sporting matches of course are excepted. 😉 I agree with you that TV is not really worth watching anymore…how long will it be until we have reality shows about the making of reality shows?

  3. Good post, though a few will never understand. I dropped tv and especially sports culture 20 years ago. Mindless brainless entertainment that does not involve my mind, does not involve me!

  4. I hate adverts. I always mute them, with pathological urgency. The jingles get in my head really badly, I’m susceptible to earworms as it is. I can still quote far too much of the Lombard Direct ad which was overabundant when I was a teen… aaargh, it’s in my head again! Get it out!!!

    Fortunately here we have the BBC whose channels are mainly devoid of such offensiveness, although they do allow party political broadcasts, but those are 5 minute slots which can be easily avoided. We don’t have ads for politics, thank God!

    I would actually prefer targeted advertising. If I could opt into a scheme where I was only exposed to products I might actually have some interest in purchasing I would. Especially if I could choose non-annoying ads. All I need is to be informed of the new product, what it does, its price and where I can get it should I choose to try it out. Once informed I could maybe take two gentle reminders, or I could click something to say no thanks and not be reminded again. Because it would be more effective it could be contained in one five minute session per day, or less.

    At least our ads on TV are only 3 or 4 five minute breaks per hour. That is plenty of time to go to the toilet, get a drink, clean the cat litter, do some crochet, take a nap or whatever. American ads are too short and frequent and are thus just a massive annoyance. I couldn’t be bothered to watch TV if it was all like that for sure.

    Sadly that whole creation of demand we both deplore is the whole basis for a consumerist society. If people only bought what they needed they would only need to work two or three days a week or less and factory owners couldn’t make profits. I’m afraid it was all started by us when we invented the industrial revolution. At first factory workers would only work until they had earned enough money for their needs, then they wanted to spend time with their families. But the mill owners wanted them to work all the time so they came up with goods which were affordable and persuaded people they wanted them so they would work the whole week to pay for them. And it’s just got worse from there. Although I do kind of like buying stuff… 🙂

    Sorry this comment has grown rather long!

    • I really enjoyed your perspective both from a British point of view (since I’m not as familiar with the BBC advertising model) and your idea about targeted marketing. That’s a wonderful idea since, for example, I do not have kids or cats and thus don’t need products for kids or cats. You’re also right about the Industrial Revolution being a game-changer. Back in the pre-industrial days, the best (and sometimes only) ads were word of mouth.

  5. I found the whole prescription medication ads funny when we were in the states last year. In Australia it’s illegal to advertise prescription drugs.

    • I didn’t know Australia was among those countries, Jody. Just one more of so many that Australia does much better than America. (Personally I wish we could pass the legislation in the US, but it will never happen with all the Big Pharma lobbying groups.)

  6. Catheters….Adult diapers….Blood sugar testers…potential lawsuit participants (for instance, if you or a loved one had this type of hip replacement and then died of complications…are dead people plagued by commercials too?!)

  7. I wouldn’t control the FCC, I would burn it down. Let these supposed parents do their own job of being a parent instead of being lazy and expecting someone to regulate what gets broadcast because they don’t like it. Instill that if they don’t like it they should get off of their ass or pick up the remote (because that is such a strenuous task) and change the damn channel.You want to censor what your kids see, hear, and read do it yourself instead of ruining someone else’s enjoyment.

    I hate politician’s period. No need to expand on this.

    Religion should be banned from television period, but I can actually heed my own advice and change the channel. It is pretty easy; get to a channel with some religious nutball preaching about whatever it is he is rambling on about, my brains sends a sign to my mouth, the signal is then cried out “Fuck this!”, and then the next signal is sent to my fingers to either push the up or down button or punch in the number of a more favored channel. Something a certain rich housewife in the eighties couldn’t do. Although, if we are going to have religion on tv, then ALL religions should be allowed on television.

    BTW. My local library deemed it ok for a church to hold services inside, but you know if any other religion or belief were to ask to be able to hold a service they would be told no, and be protested if they did allow them. Along with the racism, intolerance, and inconsiderate nature that goes with these people.

    I hate the fat/obesity epidemic bullshit that is said and fed around the country. First, you cannot get fat if I rub against you or breathe on you, it isn’t happening. And if you are too superficial to actually be near someone who isn’t skinny or “pretty” you should stay indoors and never leave your house. I may be fat, but I get the enjoyment of showing up every dickhead who snickers and snears at me when I walk into a guitar shop, while they are busy playing the favor of the month I’m trying out prospective gear and making their jaws drop when they see this fat man kicking their ass just from going over practice runs and speed drills.

    You will have to pardon me, I am not having the greatest of weeks.

    • Hey, no problem. I’m here to listen and I certainly understand where you’re coming from. Your point about the FCC is excellent; it’s just another piece of the Nanny State that I so despise. We don’t need censorship…we need responsible, active parenting. You’re exactly right. (And don’t worry about ranting…I enjoy ranting myself.) 😉

      • The funny thing is I have a podcast for this which I haven’t worked on in a while because I have been blogging more (I actually have two more now besides WFTH). I wouldn’t mind doing another podcast with other people other than myself just talking most of the time.

      • I’d be open to that idea. Shoot me a PM and let’s talk. 🙂

      • Ok. 🙂

  8. The thing I hate most about medication ads is that there must be some law where they have to throw in all the contraindications, but they ramble them off so fast that all they are doing is fulfilling the letter of the law, but not really helping anyone to know the contraindications in intelligible, everyday speech that is actually spoken at a pace where it is comprehensible to the average person.

  9. I would have to say it’s a toss up between the political and ED ads. Both are gross!
    Since I started blogging, I don’t watch a lot of TV!

  10. Sorry – wouldn’t Paolo be a necessity for you more than a luxury?
    About your calling out of toilet paper – Coke is a well known brand. Everyone knows what it is. But they’ve found that when they advertise less, people buy less.
    Odd how that works.
    I guess we do have very short attention spans.

  11. hahahaahha..wonderful…my all time fave are the seductive coffee ads by far..carte noir have ‘seductive servers’..i tend to forget the coffee and stare at the men instead..hahhahahahaha…and not sure obamaville is scarier than bushville but for a second there i thought it was a ad for ‘the walking dead’..some ads are annoying but some people in that business are actually good at their job..i suggest a protest..they kind of seem to work sometimes

  12. The worst ad I ever saw was an ad for the video game Juiced! from T*HQ quite a while back. It featured a couple of men playing with a controller selecting what stuff they wanted for the car; and everytime they selected one; there is this female who changes clothes like magic. This ends with her being stripped naked and then they had the label of the game branded on her.

    Actually; this video explains it better than I could: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2925207/funny_commercial_juiced/

    (Not Safe For Work due to the fact that this is the uncensored version of it. There are boobs; and not of the idiot kind.)

    Feel the sexual assault! And then there are those video game ads where they show all this pre-rendered CGI for a major game; but rarely ever show actual in-game footage.

    As bad as TV ads are; Internet ads are much, much worse. Thankfully; they are easier to block than television ads.

  13. I hate commercials with that odd animation that sort of looks realistic. Charles Schwab did it. Rotoscoping. Creepy. Also, the Dairy Queen talking lips should be banned.

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