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Don't Pay Attention to this Ad

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Scott's take on the modern world of advertising, with a few digressions

When I was a senior in high school, one of the things I wanted to get into, among others, was advertising. A place where I could use my artistic abilities and do creative writing of script and jingle, which would have pleased Jan Dunbar, my long-time English and Journalism teacher, no end. I owed her that much after all the torture she went through to keep me on the honor roll. Sorry, Mrs. Dunbar. After 37 years away from your tutelage, I seem to have forgotten some of the key elements of spelling, structure, grammar and good taste. Not that I was all that adept in those departments, but I used to know what a danglin’ participle was. (Now, I are one.) Oh well, what goes around comes around.

I ended up in Missoula, enrolled at U of M in 1970, but instead of having a liberal arts major (something I could spell), my dad blackmailed me into enrolling in the Law department. Just because I’d gone to Montana Boys’ State and Model United Nations he took this to mean I was somehow interested in the topic of law and its twin brother, politics.

This simple act introduced me to Latin, a mandatory subject so intolerable to my thought process that I tried joining the Frenchtown Foreign Legion! Almost made it, too, but they found out about a birth defect I’d had fer a number of years - I was born in Utah.

The law department didn’t have to remind me of my hatred of hypocrisy and carefully crafted falsehoods. Model United Nations (at U of M) along with Montana Boys’ State (Dillon) had pointed it out to me in the summer and winter of ‘69, where I watched eager, bright young faces master the art of deception and false advertising like it would be their life’s calling. It doesn’t take long to tell what color people’s eyes really are when they’re being paid in beef futures, cigarettes and hot dates (high school political machinery in action).

The guys who got elected to their mock government positions were the ones who had the most credibility for repaying those IOUs. A curious parallel to “Big Time” politics, I think. Same workings, just different sized bribes and, of course, the same old human nature that seems to be rampant everywhere. Boys will be boys. Men will be men and, if given enough rope, will display a stunning array of knots.

U of M, with its aversion to wasting anyone’s hard-earned money and their precious time, sent me back home in a record amount of it. So I didn’t go into law or even advertising, for that matter, but I did go to Latin America fer a winter and that’s about as close as I wanna get to politics in general. And advertising, too, really.

Advertisers, in their search for greatness and their client’s continuity, have refined the science of deception to a point unfathomable by the ‘ancient’ standards of old where it was usually unhealthy as hell to lie about yourself or your product. Unless, of course, you wanted yer butt to look like a pin cushion or stuck in a pillory where the local dogs could nose yer grand canyon and nobody would bother to stop them.

Consumers and taxpayers aren’t allowed to exact revenge for bad ideas or false promises except by not falling for them again. Shysters haven’t had to worry about tar and feathers for far too long, and it’s starting to show in their brazen cockiness. However, memories are short and our opinions are constantly being revised for us, kind of like history, and we seem to fall for the same ol’ gags time and again. These people are real good at their craft else they might have to get real jobs, which would nowadays entail gettin’ a work visa to a different hemisphere.

Truth in advertising has gone off on a sabbatical somewhere it seems, and may never be heard from again.

I believe in “buyer beware” versus a bunch of worthless bureaucrats taking kickbacks (donations) and gettin’ on everyone’s nerves instead of fulfilling their intended purpose.

Horse poop sells better’n horses. They’re both useful. It just depends on what your hobbies are. For example, what possible good could come of wasting operating budgets to tell the general public about prescription drugs on every network and every channel concerning every ailment or malady one could possibly hope for, unless there’s a final push to turn this country into a quivering mass of hypochondriacs.

In the never-ending race to make medicines far too expensive for those who really might need ‘em, about the only thing left for pharmaceutical companies to try would be door-to-door coercion. That would be quite all right with me as I’ve been lookin’ for an excuse to buy a real big obnoxious squirt gun.

Several years ago a new product was introduced by a well-polished ad campaign showing a rib-like sandwich, bright red and meaty and slathered in suitable looking sauce. I have to admit, they looked pretty good on TV, but I’d sworn off that kind of malnutrition about 30 years ago.

Well, I was getting some tire work done one day and ol’ Les was fresh out of coffee, so I went off to join the “billions served” for the first (and I’m thinkin’ last) time in my life. There was a guy in front of me who must have ordered one of the aforementioned delicacies and was presented with it as I stood there taking in these new surroundings. He unwrapped one end of it while waiting for his change and, peeking over his shoulder, I could not help but notice the incongruity between the ad and the finished product. By the look on the patron’s not-so-hungry-anymore face, I’m thinkin’ he noticed, also. I could not stop my lips from opening up and sayin’ “bone appeteet!”

While puttin’ together one of Coeur d’Alene’s finest eateries, one of our crew went over to get a “5 fer 5” special at that place famous for its big, dopey hat. There again the product did not resemble the promise and not only a little bit, I was legally stunned. I thought of inquiring if he’d tripped and fallen on his ‘special’ but he was already peeling the wrapper on number three. I did notice his eyes were closed and assumed he was busy trying to trick his mind (and stomach) into believing his lunch looked like the advertising. Actually, I don’t think he gave a rat’s asset, he was just hungry. Too hungry to see things right.

And there’s the problem! Whatever happened to the ol’ adage “money talks and bull*&@! walks?” Or more aptly put, “show me the product and I’ll show you the money.” Don’t pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side, the song goes. We really need to correct this situation en masse. Don’t wait fer the elected ones to do anything about it, their hands are tied (probably to the purse strings of those committing the crime).

Customer comments need to pack a little more punch than the toilet paper they usually get flushed with.

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Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

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