June 23, 2010
Shit's about to get political up in this biz.
There's the poorly executed ads, the ads gamely struggling to market a terrible product, and the advertisements made by ham-fisted creatives who wouldn't know proper pacing, humor, or salesmanship if it burrowed into their thigh meat. But even the most content-free pile of flashing lights and bellowed voice-overs selling sugary snacks on a Saturday morning can hold its ad head up high and be thankful it isn't a Truth PSA. If effective, memorable advertising has a gold standard, Truth ads are as far from that standard as fillet mignon is from a Ziploc baggie of amputated fingers.
Holier-than-thou agenda aside, the naked assault on logic and critical thinking on display here is enough to describe this ad's own private circle in Hell. If advertisements had a Hell, which I guess would imply that advertisements had a soul. But would that apply to print as well as television? What about the little stickers on race cars? Would they be the unbaptized babes of the advertising afterlife? Would coupons be the Jews? You know... snip-snip?
Truth's subtle little tactic, in case you weren't able to follow along with the subtlety, is that if one thing is bad for you but isn't being advertised as bad for you, and by exaggerating that strategy through the fine art of parody, we can wake up 'merica to just how **<--EVIL-->** the tobacco companies are. Hence, Glass Pops. How droll.
Let's explain Truth's fallacious argument in a manner which they may have some hope of understanding, as a high-school SAT-prep question:
cigarettes are to Glass Pops as unprotected sex is to...
d) anal fire rape
Cigarettes are (spoiler alert) dangerous and bad for you. They can ruin your health in all manner of hideous and frankly disgusting ways, despite making you look cool as shit while they're doing it. What Truth seems to be overlooking is that "ruins your body" is not the major selling point of tobacco. It also feels amazing. Glass Pops, on the other hand, are dangerous, ruin your body, and have zero pleasurable effects. They are effectively pain sticks and serve no other purpose, and this makes the comparison a pile of STFU.
The folks at Truth have a very difficult time understanding that smokers are not smokers because tobacco executives beat them in a one-on-one debate. They're smokers because smoking feels good and the chemicals in them are physically addictive. Glass Pops, they do not feel good, and they are about as addictive as under-nail bamboo skewers. The entire ad is based on a deductive fallacy as elementary as "Adnoxious is a web site. Epicurious is a web site. Adnoxious can provide me with a tasty yet wholesome citrus quinoa recipe for my next garden party."
Well, maybe, but you're going to have to get through a lot of rape jokes first. Forewarned.
So, "What if all companies sold products like tobacco?" (And yes, Truth, it makes no nevermind how powerful and thought-provoking you think your tag line is, it still needs a god-damned question mark. Grammar truth.) First of all, I'm taking your word for it that tobacco companies still advertise at all. It's not like they still have Tweety fellating Pall-Malls in between Loony Tunes anymore, and it's been years since I've seen one of those Kool print ads with a dozen women in one-pieces lounging by a pool. But while tobacco execs are never going to win Humanitarian of the Year, they've been tasked with selling a product that, if consumed properly, kills you, which has to be one thankless fucking endeavor. Coming to work each morning hoping you haven't slaughtered your consumer base can't be good for the ulcers, so cut them a little slack for not using a picture of a tracheotomy stoma as a billboard.
But the real ass-boil in this ad comes after you get past the ridiculous comparison and silly presentation. Let's assume Glass Pops were a real product, this was a real commercial, and there were people out there buying and eating delicious Glass Pops. What, then, is the problem that Truth has with this commercial. This guy comes on and gives you real information about the dangers of their product, information that you can use to determine whether or not the risk is worth it to you to consume it. He's using no trickery, no hyped statistics, no manipulative imagery or spokesmen. He's standing in front of millions and urging everyone to get the facts and use personal responsibility before engaging in risky behavior.
Isn't that exactly what Truth wants the tobacco industry to do?! If the CEO of Phillip Morris bought national ad time during the Super Bowl and with zero irony or artifice told an audience of millions that cigarettes were harmful and to please stop using them if you are concerned about health risks, I would have thought the offices of Truth would have run sticky with self-righteous orgies for weeks. So what's with the sarcasm and poorly-punctuated message? Is there anything at this point the tobacco companies can do that will make these pricks happy?
Imagine Greenpeace producing a PSA showing a group of hardened whalers silently sobbing over the slaughter they hath wrought, laying down their harpoons, and hugging dolphins ending with the line "What if everyone acted like whalers?" That's the kind of confusion I'm grappling with here.
Chances I will not buy tobacco products thanks to this ad: I'm tempted to start smoking again just to spite these assholes.
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