7 Feb

Just how dumb are we? Wait, don’t answer that.

Erika Turan, APR

Senior account Executive

There are a certain percentage of disclaimers added to advertising and marketing that make me wonder just what the marketer was thinking when it was added.

Well, in all likelihood, it wasn’t the marketer, it was probably someone in the legal department.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter who added it. To me, as a consumer and a marketer, it’s distracting and a major pet peeve.

Take, for example, car commercials. There are always the disclaimers that run along the bottom that say, “Optional navigation system shown” or something similar. But in every single commercial, there’s also the disclaimer, “Professional driver on closed course.”

Um…ok. Typical car commercials convey images of a super-shiny car gliding sleekly past either a) glitzy urban scenery or b) pretty nature scenery that isn’t too distracting or c) for some reason, racing across a dry lake bed. Your car will never look that shiny, even when you drive it out of the showroom. I think they dip the TV cars in baby oil.

But no matter what the setting, that little “professional driver on closed course” disclaimer runs along the bottom of the screen. In most commercials, the driver isn’t doing anything most of us haven’t done at least nine times that week, and I’ll bet their driver isn’t doing it while simultaneously texting and drinking coffee (I do not condone these actions).

My point is, why do we need to be told that the car doing regular driving is doing it with a pro at the helm, on a closed road? The rest of us have to do it as amateurs, surrounded by even bigger amateurs, so that has to be tougher than what we’re seeing on the screen.

I do, however, welcome the disclaimer when it’s on a car commercial like this one, for a Ford GT that’s being driven roughly 400 mph. And the disclaimer reads, “Clearly a professional driver on a closed course.”

I’m also puzzled, and distracted, by whatever requirement it is that means food marketers must place a disclaimer next to the photos of food on the outside of the package.

For example, go to your pantry and pull out a box of cereal. Keep looking until you find one that has a photo of a bowl of cereal in milk, with some strawberries on top. And next to the photo it says, “serving suggestion.”

I don’t get it. Do they need to tell us that so that we don’t think we’re buying a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit inside the box? If so, why stop there? Why not also tell us the cereal doesn’t include the leprechaun or tiger pictured on the box?

I have this box of Triscuits at my desk, and it shows a photo of a cracker topped with half of a cherry tomato, a sprig of dill and a sliver of parmesan cheese. Never mind the fact that I don’t have the patience to pull off this effort of tiny artistic arranging on a cracker, but there again, it reads, “serving suggestion.” I guess it’s better than telling me it’s a serving requirement.

Triscuits the size of dinner plates

The “serving suggestion” disclaimer is only surpassed by the “food enlarged to show texture” disclaimer. You mean this cookie isn’t the size of a dinner plate?! Well then, I’m not buying it.

The one that takes the cake, and the one that prompted me to write this blog, was a recent commercial for dishwasher detergent.

This commercial is effective, showing a woman loading all kinds of dirty dishes into the dishwasher and the dishes coming clean with help from the detergent.

The problem for me happens when the commercial unfolds to reveal a sort of superhero battle going on inside the dishwasher. The dirty dishes are animated with snarling faces and the soap becoming hurtling people scrubbing away to get the dishes clean.

And down there, in the corner, it says, “Dramatization.”

I would not have thought this necessary.

I might just give us all a little too much credit. Perhaps these disclaimers are needed after all. For all of us who realize we shouldn’t do what we see on TV, there’s at least one poor individual who thinks they really do have the ability to drive “donuts” in the desert in their Buick, or that the scrubbing bubbles are in fact bubbles that have bristles on their tiny bottoms.

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