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Man, who are YOU targeting?

There's this PSA commercial that plays on TV all the time -- at least once an hour, it feels like -- that is supposed to complain about how tobacco companies ~subliminally~ market to kids. It has always low-key annoyed me, because it feels like they're deliberately misreading marketing to make Big Tobacco look more evil, but now it's actively making me angry because it's starting to make me -- a lifelong free-of-nicotine person -- want to try the products they're lobbying against.


[Oh, look at that. The preview image is A PICTURE OF ALL THE PRODUCTS so now you can focus on them without even playing! OK, you wanna play it that way, better spoiler-cut this too.]

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I didn't always hate the commercial, mostly because the girls are so cute and the sound of the short-haired girl's voice is irresistible; I normally hate the sound of child voices and I really don't want kids  but I will raise that child as my own. "Do we get to keeep any? *adorable giggle*"

But OH MAN. Let me quote some things:
"With colorful packaging and fruit and candy flavors KIDS LOVE...who do you think tobacco companies are targeting?"

Hey buddy? Kids are not the only people who love those things. You don't outgrow loving colorful fruit and candy flavors. I guess they could work harder to make them look less delicious-looking for kids with negligent parents who leave them lying around, but mostly kids are never going to see those products. Who is going to see them: adults, who will be like, "should I get this boring regular brown package or HEY WHAT IF I TRY THAT DELICIOUS-LOOKING ONE."

I'm not saying it's not still dodgy to market lethal products to adults. But it's hard for me to say a business should avoid a method market research has probably told them will increase profit on the off-chance that kids who otherwise would have used it will now be less interested due to lack of color. And I'm pretty sure they did not sit around going "now that The Man says we can't advertise on TV, how can we subliminally push these products onto small children who will definitely stay interested in them from age 8 until 18? That is our sole objective here."

"It smells like gum." / "This smells like strawberries." / "Ooh. Are these mints?"

I have heard these statements about a hundred times. And every time I hear them, especially in conjunction with seeing the packaging -- which by the way, I otherwise would have never seen in my life or known existed -- I'm like, "Holy hell. What if it tastes as good as it looks and sounds? What if it is actually Flavor Heaven? I know cigarattes are gross, but MAYBE THIS IS AN AWESOME ALTERNATIVE TO CIGARETTES?"

*close up on grape flavor* / *close up on price tag*
I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS BUT IT'S ONLY 69 CENTS SO IT SEEMS LIKE IT'D BE A BARGAIN TO FIND OUT.

"Learn more at stillaproblem.org."

What's the problem? That these delicious products may not be available in my area???

I'm kind of saying this in jest, but honestly, at this point I can't find it in my heart to be grossed out by the thought of a grape-flavored tobacco product anymore. "Grape" completely negates the "tobacco" part. That is what seems like a problem to me. Seems kind of like you were approached by a Big Tobacco exec with a bag of bribe money and an idea of how they could finally get to advertise on TV again without anyone realizing it.

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