Deceptive Advertising Practices

by C. M. Albrecht

 I realize CEOs and advertising agencies have a very low opinion of the average consumer’s IQ, and maybe that opinion isn’t too far off. Just look at the clinically tested and doctor approved advertising they scorch our ears and eyes with between the ever shorter programs. I haven’t actually timed it, but I’m pretty sure the average half hour program devotes more minutes to commercials than it does to the actual program. I notice too, that in say, a one hour program, the programming starts out longer with shorter commercials, but as the hour goes on the programming becomes shorter and shorter and the commercials become longer and longer. It’s even customary now for the host, after a painfully long series of commercials pointing out all the deadly side effects of their latest wonder drug, to appear briefly, creating the impression that the programming has resumed. However it turns out he/she has only come back for a moment to tell you what’s coming up right after the break and then we have another lengthy series of painfully obvious lies about some product, frequently a medication that does more harm than good in the world. You know they’re lies because instead of having David Leisure smiling at you, you have “doctors” etc. while at the bottom in practically invisible letters is a disclaimer telling you that you should not expect these miraculous results. The only thing to expect is a lighter wallet. You know they’re really doctors because they have a stethoscope draped casually around their shoulders.

But there’s another insidious, subtle little subterfuge at work here too. A sneaky trick many consumers don’t notice, at least right away. That is the modern custom of offering the same size can, or package but with a price increase. Okay, we know things go up. But what we don’t know at first is that the price has gone up even more than it appears. That’s because, while the packaging remains about the same, closer inspection reveals that the “large” loaf of bread, traditionally a pound and a half, is now only a pound and a quarter, or less. Your favorite pound of coffee is only twelve ounces and your five pound bag of sugar has shrunk to four pounds. and so it goes. 

Another clever ploy it to quietly change the ingredients of many of our traditional food products. You can make Vienna Sausages from chicken parts for less money and charge more and no one will ever be the wiser. Sliced lunch meats, hot dogs. You may not care, and most of today’s kids will grow up eating chicken hot dogs and so on, but it’s cheating and cheating isn’t right. Sure, you can still get your traditional Spam, but you really have to read the label or don’t forget the cranberry sauce because it’s chicken tonight.

Now, I grant that if we, as children, had been brought up on other foods, we would accept and enjoy them today.  

As Tevye the Dairyman said: “Tradition”.

There’s a lot to be said for tradition. For hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, processed meats have been made from the same ingredients. Mostly pork and beef. Some hot dogs have been all beef while others have been a mixture of beef and pork. The same goes for most lunch meats and canned meats. Now suddenly it’s all chicken. There is a reason for this. Money.

These days there are all sorts of agencies afoot to inform us of intrusions into our daily life with improper food or treatment, but so far I haven’t heard one voice raised to protest this problem of the shrinking package combined with the growing price and deceptive advertising.

Don’t even get me started on #1 potatoes. I presume #2 potatoes are barely fit for the pigpen. Tomatoes? Sure, they’re shiny, round and red and uniform but as to flavor…well, you can’t have everything. They taste like cardboard, but roaches thrive on cardboard, so I guess it can’t hurt to eat tomatoes. If you open a box of a dozen eggs in the near future and find it contains only ten eggs, don’t be surprised. You’ll get used to it.

 

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