Why I Hate Cynical Ads

Hate Cynical Ads? I Know I Do.

OK, before moving on to why I hate cynical ads, let’s start by saying that I generally enjoy listening to ads on the radio (I watch relatively little telly).

I particularly like really great radio ads, like the campaign run during 2017-2019 from Appliances Delivered. I mean, they were so well written and brilliantly delivered (excuse the pun) by the “voiceover guy”. How they managed to create humour from humdrum extractor fans was genius, but the best line of all was the one where the reader declares that he doesn’t know how Appliances Delivered make any money “what with my voiceover fees”. Brilliant! And no, I’m not on a commission.

Interestingly, that company went to the wall during 2019.

hate cynical ads
Image © Nick Youngson at http://www.creative-commons-images.com/

But I really hate cynical ads. There’s one out at the moment from Love Irish Food pontificating about how its members must be producing in Ireland using Irish ingredients in order to earn the label. Yet, this is patently not always the case. There are Love Irish Food products on the market containing ingredients which are no more form Ireland than the man in the moon. Visit their website, dig a little bit and you’ll discover that, in fact, “the brand uses ingredients from Ireland where these are available”. Mmm, not quite the same thing as the radio ad declares.

But that’s nothing when compared to Bord na Móna’s “Naturally Driven” campaign.

Bringing cynical advertising to an all-time high (low?), one of the biggest environmental criminals in the history of the State now wants people to believe its spin that it is in some way ‘naturally driven’. Here is a company which has destroyed many thousands of hectares of our once beautiful boglands. Here is a company that currently imports palm tree kernels from the other side of the world to burn in one of its power stations claiming to be ‘naturally driven’. Give us a break.

A number of years ago, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority commissioned a report into UK citizens’ attitudes to advertising. While mostly positive, the report referred to a trend towards what the writer called ‘untruthful truthful advertising’, defined as being “assumed to be legally true, but economical with the truth”. I’m not aware of any similar research having been carried out in Ireland.

Why I hate cynical ads

Cynical ads that try to deceive consumers, or at least be sparing with the truth, give marketing a very bad reputation among the general public.

When I ask attendees at training courses I run what they think about marketing, quite often one response forthcoming is that “marketing equals false or misleading advertising”. Unfortunate, but true. I hate cynical ads because they lower the quality of an industry which, ultimately, is supposed to be trying to match goods and services with what the market wants. Mis- or disinformation is hardly achieving that.

Not to mention disrespecting the listener.

Advertising Authority for Ireland (ASAI)

Farcically, the ASAI is a “self-regulatory body set up by the advertising industry”. I mean, seriously …

Updated 2020.

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