I came across a recent blog post about junk food (click to read why Glenn is “pissed” about it). Yes, it is a rant about the proliferation of bad nutrition and bad dietary choices, not only that they exist but that they are advertised. The underlying message I get from him is that people would make better choices if healthy foods got equal amounts of commercial time. I think the better solution would be to ban all product advertising.
Beyond merely stating that a product exists, what is the purpose of commercial advertising? It is to sell you something, to “help” you to make a choice that you would not make without their “advice”. Advertising does not want you to be informed or educated. Commercials do not invite you to read the labels or compare your options. Their technique is to speak in generalities and superlatives. The very existence of their message is proof that they don’t think you would buy their products without that message.
Imagine if a product was forced to stick to the facts. State your product name, its purpose, list its ingredients, and disclose the products it is similar to. Then go away. Let people make their own comparisons and decide for themselves if it will improve their lives to make that purchase. Ban all bogus statistics, like how much money people saved by switching insurance providers — of course they saved money, otherwise they would not have switched! Ban all claims of being better than similar products, because “better” is a subjective assessment which will differ from person to person. In my imaginary world, all consumers will be skeptical about claims and educated about the marketplace.
While we’re at it, let’s ban all sales commissions. If I walk into a store, I don’t need someone motivated by profit to talk me into a purchase. I need to do my own research and then choose to buy based on my own personal needs. The sales clerk should be paid to be there to complete the transaction. Whether or not the product is worth buying has nothing to do with their time on duty. Don’t punish sales people for representing an inferior product, and don’t reward them for pushing that product onto people.
Gee, it feels good to rant. Thank you, Internet.
Back to the junk food issue, I wanted to point out that healthy food doesn’t bother with commercials because it doesn’t really need it. Carrots sell just fine without a jingle and a mascot, and they are priced accordingly. The fact that moms don’t buy more carrots for their kids could be blamed on competition for her time and money from the evil potato chip consortium, or it could be that her kids don’t like carrots.
Today I looked at the snacks available at the college coffee shop. Next to the granola bars was a convenience pack of Pop-Tarts. I was sorely tempted, for I have known the bliss of brown sugar and cinnamon. Sometimes it sucks to be a responsible adult.