I like to watch TV advertisements; I like it almost as much as I enjoy the programmes they interrupt; I like trying to work out the target audiences and influencing factors that advertisers use. For instance, the other evening an advertisement baffled me. Why would anyone want a product that reduced the appearance of scars? Yet unsolicited testimonials praised the efficacy of Bio-Oil.
"What?" I incredulously railed at the TV set, "My scars are fading quickly enough as it is; twenty six stitches and clips, at this rate, I'll have nothing to show-off when I finally get back to work."Clearly, men were not the target audience for this product; men would have bought it immediately if the blurb had read: 'Bio-Oil, make your scars tell your suffering.' Or perhaps 'Bio-Oil, because you've suffered', that would have had men queuing out of the door at Boots; they could have sold off a stall outside the local Accident and Emergency department.
Another favourite of mine at the moment is the advertisement that makes constipation look like a lifestyle choice. In the advertisment for DulcoEase a group of well dressed, comfortably off ladies-who-lunch, are shown enjoying a lifestyle that many aspire to thanks solely to the ablility of the product to make it easier for them to...well, you know.
With no apparent strain, the advertisers have stolen what used to be sketch material for gritty northern comics and made it look unseemly to snigger at toileting. You can picture the sort of thing:
A dowdily dressed woman hesitantly approaches the busy pharmacy counter and, having built up her courage, whispers something to the assistant who, in a broad northern voice, shouts to the pharmacist in the rear:
"Mr Barker, lady here says she can't go, 'ave we anything to 'elp 'er"
The pharmacist mutters something back which the assistant repeats:
"'e says is it 'ard or soft?"
The woman, having now committed herself to a course of action, persists; you can imagine the rest.
But now constipation is out of the closet, we can march up to the chemist's counter with pride and declaim our difficult passage in the full knowledge that people will admire us for it.