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WORDS

April 14, 2014 |

If I Were An Advertiser

BY Jen Hatmaker

Undoubtedly, one of the best features of our new DVR/On Demand/Netflix world is the ability to watch our shows and skip the ads. I mean, all the good commercials will get posted as a Youtube video on Facebook, so the wheat will separate its own self from the chaff, and we won’t miss such gems as this:
But inevitably, ads slip through. Sometimes we just cannot wait and we must watch a live show and suffer through the commercials. Clearly, these are the dark struggles of life. (Don’t even get me started on the limited amount of Pandora skips. It’s like the universe hates us. WHY GOD???)

Now I’m just going to make this observation: most ads are for morons. More specifically, only fools are going to bite these dangled carrots. Really? Your mousse product will not only battle this Texas humidity and turn me into a hair model but will also make people laugh hysterically at my wit? Who knew I was that funny? And look at all these young, good-looking friends my new hair attracted! Let’s run through a field together laughing hilariously over our shoulders at one another while our hair bounces and shines!

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I have some information to pass on to advertisers. I am here to help you. I realize that sometimes when you’re locked away in your labs, you can forget about us, regular consumers who live in the real world, but I’m here to remedy that. We would like you to know that our brains are actually functional, and furthermore, we have a decent grasp of the English language, including words that you’ve made up that aren’t actually a thing. I’d like to save you some time by offering up the following marketing tactics that don’t work on us.

Yes, a good deal of us are getting older and some (ahem) are turning 40 this summer and we don’t care to go gently into that good night. I know. Fine. True. You’re onto us. However, when you peddle your products with made up words like “collagen modules” and “liposome spheres,” you make us have angry feelings. When you tell me that your “synthesized skin-identical ceramides will visibly turn back the hands of time on skin damage,” I would like to know if you were actually there in my teens and 20’s when I put oil on my face and refused to wear sunglasses so as not to get an irregular sunburn tan? Am I to believe you so deeply understand my particular brand of irresponsibility that you can reverse decades of solar tomfoolery? With your ceramides? Stop it. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean, these wrinkles and sunspots are here to stay.

I realize you also have ideas about correcting my “lipid layers” (a poetic rebranding of “fat”…well done), but the promises of “radiance and luminosity” sound rather farfetched. I am already fairly luminous because I live in Texas and for about eight months of every year, I enjoy a healthy sheen of sweat on my “epidermis,” but thanks anyway. Please choose adjectives that I actually want to resemble. (And also decide if we want to be “radiant” with your one product or “matte” with your other one. Pick a lane, Cover Girl.)

Another thing. Regarding your celebrity endorsers: The day that Jennifer Lopez actually styles her hair with Loreal EverSleek and Julia Roberts loads up her eyelashes with Maybelline is the day that magazines stop casting 22-year-old models in anti-aging ads (“The only thing that will help this college student fight the evils of aging more than our expensive cream is her PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL YOUTH!”). This is horse-crappery.

Advertisers, we don’t believe for one second of one minute that these wealthy, famous women who actually travel with aestheticians and masseuses on their permanent payroll are fetching their beauty products from Walgreens. We know that Sarah Jessica Parker did not color her hair with Garnier Nutrisse Natural Shades #60 Light Natural Brown. We would rather you just said, “Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t actually use our lip gloss, but we’ve included a picture of her in our advertisement because she wants you to know that she thinks fondly of you while she herself has her lips injected with the actual blood pigment of fairy babies.”

Listen, we would prefer you just talked real to us. We might actually believe you if you said, “This product will neither enhance your chakras nor transform all of your troubled relationships, but it might mostly remove the hard water stains in your bathtub. That’s about the most we can do here.” Super. Even better if you cast a tired-looking mom with dirty hair and torn yoga pants scrubbing the tub with an expression that makes sense for the task rather than a coifed lady in ironed linen capri pants smiling at her bathtub like this is the most fascinating moment of her day. I have never one time in my life been delighted while scrubbing my shower. I hope this makes sense to you.

Inversely, Creators of As-Seen-On-TV Products, you can probably tamp down the utter defeat your actors experience when struggling through ordinary tasks like using the remote control with their arms trapped under an unwieldy blanket (#struggle) or slicing a tomato. I’m not sure these challenges are incapacitating an entire generation like your market researchers have led you to believe. “Chopping vegetables the old way” doesn’t actually “take forever,” and I’m not sure “eliminating one of cooking’s most frustrating tasks with the innovative EZ Egg Cracker” has its finger on the pulse of the average cook’s ability to, well, crack an egg on the side of the bowl without a nervous breakdown. I’m just saying your ads are fairly high on drama and low on actual felt needs.

Maybe the problem could be solved if the As-Seen-On-TV people just market to the celebrity endorsers and skip us altogether, because they have real troubles that need addressed. Why, just recently Gwyneth lamented the age-old frustration with Parisian concierges: “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?’”

Bless.

In the meantime, I have one inch of gray, lovely readers, so I’m off to color my hair with a boxed dye, which I know will have stunning and otherworldly results, because Cameron Diaz uses the exact same brand.

What advertising tactic gets your goat? Because I didn’t even mention pharmaceutical ads which is A WHOLE THING.