When It Comes to Advertising, Let the Buyer Beware

Advertising is as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. We are all influenced by it, and agencies make millions on advertising campaign for a single product or brand. A 30-second slot during the Super Bowl telecast averages about $4.5 million so that, in itself, tells you how lucrative a new ad can be. You can also blow $4.5 million on something everyone ignores.

Probably the greatest feat in American advertising was how big tobacco and its many brands legitimized smoking among the populace. You can blame some of it on ignorance. We did not have science on the consumer’s side. In fact, science was used to convince people that some cigarette brands were even healthful. It is an example of how advertising can, in the interest of the almighty dollar, convince us to use a product that will likely harm or kill us.

Check out the following radio ad from 1946 delivered in stentorian tones by a velvet-voiced announcer:

The pages of American history are illumined by the names of doctors who worked unceasingly to overcome disease and to make life happier and more secure for humanity. The makers of Camels are pardonably proud of the standing of this cigarette among doctors. A nationwide survey of doctors’ cigarette preferences was recently made. Three leading independent research organizations asked this question of one hundred thirteen thousand five hundred and ninety-seven doctors — doctors in every field of medicine: “What cigarette do you smoke, Doctor?” The brand named most was Camel. Yes … FILTERED VOICE: … according to a recent nationwide survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.

This particular plug, implying that doctors were proclaiming this brand healthy without actually saying so, was part of a script from an Abbott and Costello comedy show. Cigarette ads, with memorable slogans and jingles, bombarded people on television and radio until Jan. 2, 1971, when the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act led to an advertising ban.

Camel’s most famous slogan was, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel,” and walking a mile was probably something most heavy smokers couldn’t do. All the major cigarette brands had their slogans which made cigarette smoking seem like the cool thing to do. It was even perceived as romantic, with many love scenes in the movies at the time using cigarettes as a prop. The Yanks of World War I and the GIs of World War II regarded a pack of smokes as a necessity, relieving the pressures of battle. You wonder how many of them survived the war only to have their lives cut short by 10, 20 or 30 years because of tobacco addictions.

The television newscasters we trusted to inform us of what may be harmful out there were often sponsored by tobacco products. Respected journalists like Edward R. Murrow smoked on the air. The link to cancer and heart disease was being blithely ignored, even though the evidence was building that it was harmful to our health.

Many things that are advertised can be bad for us, whether sugar-laden soft drinks, widely available junk food and snacks or empty-calorie breakfast cereals like Sugar Pops, introduced in 1951 and targeting children on “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickock” as a nutritional powerhouse.

Advertising also introduces us to products that are good for us, improve our lives in various ways as well as entertaining and educating us.

Slogans and jingles ruled for decades in the advertising world, and though they are still among the tools of the trade, contemporary ads are more visual, thanks to technology, and many seem to pride themselves on not making any sense at all.

Looking back at some of the most popular and effective slogans and jingles of all times, most of us think we know what products they are hawking. The oldest in the Advertising Hall of Fame goes back to 1896 and the New York Times— “All the news that’s fit to print.” Following are 20 product slogans and the answers are at the end. How many do you know?

  1. “Works like a dream.” 2.“Reach out and touch someone.” 3. “Try it. You’ll like it.” 4. “Wassup?” 5. “Will you be ready?” 6. “American by birth. Rebel by choice.” 7. “Some of our best men are women.” 8. “My wife, I think I’ll keep her.” 9. “Take it all off.” 10. “Have it your way.” 11. “A little dab’ll do ya.” 12. “The quality goes in before the name goes on.” 13. “You’ve come a long way, baby.” 14. “Cover the Earth.” 15. “Get a piece of the rock.” 16. “Enjoy the ride.” 17. “Fair and balanced.” 18. “Must see TV.” 19. “When it rains it pours.” 20. “The power of all of us.”
  2. Ambien; 2. AT&T; 3. Alka-Seltzer; 4. Budweiser; 5. Cialis; 6. Harley-Davidson; 7. U.S. Army; 8. Geritol; 9. Noxzema; 10. Burger King; 11. Brylcreem; 12. Zenith; 13. Virginia Slims; 14. Sherwin Williams; 15. Prudential; 16. Nissan; 17. Fox News; 18. NBC; 19. Morton Salt; 20. eBay.

Wes is the sole copywriter/editor at SkillUnlimited and is working out of Wyalusing, PA.

About Wes

Wes is the sole copywriter/editor at SkillUnlimited and provides copy-editing services for internet marketing, website copy, book editing, and more.

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