From Here & Back Again

By Jim coufal--CMYKCoufal

(Cazenovia, NY – April 2013) There is much that can be said about television advertisements. Let me share a few of my thoughts.

Did you ever notice that most ads during the 5:30 – 7 p.m. news hours are for prescriptions, especially aimed at the older folks (me among them)? They sound so great until they get to the point about possible side effects, then you appreciate the old saying about the cure being worse than the disease.

I especially like the one where it talks about possible tuberculosis, stroke, heart attack and death, and then says that if you have any of these symptoms you should immediately call your doctor. I’m sure he/she would be fascinated by a call from those having suffered the side effect of death. Would that constitute proof of life after?

I do wonder what the writers and the copy editors were doing when they wrote such drivel. It’s unintentionally funny, whereas many ads are meant to be funny. My favorite is the Norwegian ad for Saab automobiles (made in Sweden). The obvious businessman comes out of his office building into a car-lined street, with everything covered in a deep blanket of snow. He sighs, then using his briefcase he clears off his car.

Sighing again he takes his keychain, points it at the car and pushes the magic clicker. An uncovered car, two in front of the one he cleaned, beeps and its lights go on. All the cars are, of course, Saabs. On the other hand, maybe the ad hits too close to home.

Auto insurance ads present problems in math. If you switch to any one of them you will save, and round and round it goes. There must be a starting point somewhere in the equation, but I haven’t found it. Allstate has “the voice” and Progressive has Flo, and those are hard to beat.

Did you ever wonder what Flo really looks like under all that floozy make-up? I have AMICA, and even if I could save a few bucks, I wouldn’t change; the service is simply outstanding.

There are ads for many things that claim they are number one, the best, the highest-ranking. A few of them even tell you how they have determined such good standing; most don’t bother. There are so many number-one hit television shows that there can’t be a number two. Some things are just, “huuuuge!”

I’m a television channel-surfer. There has got to be a conspiracy regarding ads. Get to an ad on the channel you’re watching and surf to another and what do you find … an ad. This may be reasonable with regular programming, but it even happens when you switch to a supposedly live basketball, football or other such game.

Maybe they’re really slightly delayed live games so they can match regularly scheduled ad time ad for ad.

Some ads are just plain disgusting. I don’t care how soft the toilet tissue is, seeing a bear with of wad of it stuck to his butt is just not appealing. Others are misleading. I can’t speak for all men, but I can say that the first thing I look at when meeting a woman is not her eyelashes, and that should not be taken as a sexist remark, just recognition of biological maleness.

Then there are the ads that just don’t make any sense. A prime example is selling flesh, usually female flesh, for products from A to Z. Come on now, everything isn’t related to sex, or is it?

Car dealers seem to be big on advertising lease deals, with a bow here and there to actually purchasing the vehicle. Makes you wonder if they make more money leasing the vehicle than selling it outright. In large print they advertise such as, “Just $249 a month for 24 months.”

In small print, artfully placed where you have to strain to find it, it says, “With $2,490 down.” That down payment is another $100 per month, so in reality you are paying $349 per month. Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?

The Venture card ads with Alec Baldwin, Vikings, goats and Charles Barkley are clever and funny and tell you all about the “fringe benefits” their card brings.

Notice they never say too much about the interest charges.

When the ad says the item of amazement – one that chops, shreds, dices, sanitizes, sucks up, fixes your prostrate problem or your aging skin – will be sent to you with a second one “free,” just pay shipping and handling, be damn sure to find out how much the shipping and handling will cost.

But wait … nah, don’t bother.

Jim Coufal of Cazenovia is a part-time philosopher and full-time observer of global trends. He can be reached at

By martha

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