Saturday, 5 July 2008

What Do You Mean They Don't Have To Make Sense?

Despite the fact we are all well aware that the advertising industry is a seething pit of con artists and shysters there are some bits near the edge of the pit, the ‘shallow end’ if you will, where the small time or slightly slow advertisers dwell.

There’s a carwash in my home town which I won’t name* which sends me off into a spiel every time I see it.
The sign above the carwash depicts a small pod of dolphins energetically leaping out of foaming waves.

There are few things that weird me out about this:
  1. The town is two hours inland.
  2. Unless the dolphins want to face-plant on the beach, why are they leaping forwards out of crashing waves?
  3. The hell do dolphins have to do with cars? Does anyone ever see a dolphin and think wax polish? And if they do… ick.
  4. Either the dolphins are leaping about in soapy fresh water (bad for the dolphins) or the carwash appears to be suggesting that you wash your car in salt water (bad for your car) Does anyone else remember that cartoon where Goofy/Donald Duck backing his boat and car into the ocean? I rest my case**

The number of people who are actually willing to let me wax poetical about this topic (few) and those who haven’t heard it at least once before (even fewer) always try to reason with me.

“It’s a sign for a carwash. It isn’t a scientific treatise***” they say, “So Sammy Signwriter isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed! It got your attention didn’t it?”

Yes, I reply, it did get my attention but in a way that makes me worry about their facilities and/or what they do to dolphins in their spare time. I’m certainly never going to patronise their carwash.

“I’m sure they’d be devastated to learn they’ve lost one crazy person’s business… You don’t even have a car!”

That’s not the point. It’s a matter of principal.

“Sure not taking the car you don’t have to a particular carwash is a matter of principal. Say does someone already have your power of attorney?”

I’m already leaving you my CDs imaginary composite of everyone I know, don’t get greedy.

Fair enough, Sammy Signwriter probably isn’t running with the big boys of the advertising world and possibly there are those less OCD than I who, once their attention is caught, forget about the dolphins and focus on sluicing down their cars who love that sign. I guess what I’m more worried about is what advertising is doing to the way we think

Someone I met recently works for an insurance company (but I forgive them) which ran a light-hearted ad about a family building a new house and the little daughter being downcast to find a brick wall behind the door where her new bedroom should be.

They had been expecting a few calls from the usual overexcited people accusing them of child abuse for putting such a broken-hearted look on the little girl’s face but what they hadn’t been expecting was the flood of other complaints.

People calling up to say that the little girl was too ugly to be on TV and asking what the insurance company intended to do about this.

So after years of bemoaning the overly pretty and slim folk with uncomplicated lives or speed-freak levels of energy pedalling our consumer faff to us we’ve come to this.

Go home little girl.

You’re too ugly to be on TV.

Worries me, it really does.

But if you’ll excuse me I’m off to pay some of the local ne’er-do-wells to spray paint ‘SAVE THE DOLPHINS’ on a certain carwash. They’ve already got the spray paint and if they get caught at least they’ll be able to plead ecological conscience and the passion of youth as a defence.

And I’ll be able to deny everything as long as everyone I’ve ever met can keep their mouths shut.

*I can’t remember what it’s called.

**Stay tuned for my post on how we should be using that invisible paint on our heavy artillery equipment in Afghanistan and Iraq.

***They didn't actually say treatise but I wanted to make them look good for the internets.

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