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TV ads make no sense
By Bill Hoagland
Companies that advertise on TV spend a lot of money on those ads. So you would think that a lot of thought went into the ability of those advertisements to sell the product that they are promoting and you would assume that these companies want to get their money’s worth out of those costly ads. But sometimes there seems to be a disconnect between the ad and the ultimate message that the advertiser is attempting to convey. In short, despite the expense, some of these ads make no sense at all.
Liberty Mutual is an excellent insurance company but they persist in running an ad on TV that is one of those nonsensical ads. Yes, I am referring to “Doug”, the guy in the yellow shirt and tinted aviator glasses who hangs out with an emu who apparently marches to his own drummer. This advertising theme of “Doug and the emu” has been running for about three years. I guess “Doug” is supposed to be the American version of Inspector Clouseau in the old Pink Panther movies—a bumbling idiot so humorously played by Peter Sellers. But “Doug” is not actually that funny over the long haul and his recurring predicaments have become tiresome for many TV viewers. Instead, these skits are head-scratchers; what in the world do these silly scenarios have to do with engaging a quality insurance company to protect you from serious legal liabilities?
This is not the only insurance company that attempts to promote itself on TV with what are intended as cute, memorable ads; we have GEICO, Progressive and Farmers, just to name a few that come to mind. And yes, they are memorable ads but for the wrong reason.
Then we have those ads that are so outlandish that we lose sight of what product is being promoted. I am thinking here about the ad that features a dog dragging his rear-end across a shag carpet in the family living room. People who are in the room with this mutt act as horrified as we are watching him pull himself across that carpet. I have seen that ad a number of times but to this day, I am always too distracted to determine exactly what product is being promoted. Is it a rug cleaner? Canine hemorrhoid treatment? And as I am watching this event unfold, questions immediately arise in my mind and unfortunately for the advertisers, I am not even curious as to what product is being promoted; instead, I am wondering how to train a dog to do this on command. Does it entail sitting there with a box of dog biscuits, day after day, waiting for that propitious moment to suddenly appear? And once you have trained your dog to do this on command in the filming studio, does he get punished if he later does it at home? Clearly, ads like this make no sense if the viewer is so distracted that he does not know what product is being promoted.
You would think that eventually the companies promoting these products would realize that these ads are not really getting the job done. In looking at the comments on the internet about these ads, a surprising number of people hate these ads and some even say they will never engage that insurance company or buy that product simply because they are tired, sick or repulsed by the nature of the advertisement. So are the advertising executives even paying attention to the public reaction? Apparently not and that is what really makes no sense when we are talking about nonsensical ads.
■ Bill Hoagland has practiced law in Alton for more than 50 years, but he has spent more than 70 years hunting, fishing and generally being in the great outdoors. His wife, Annie, shares his love of the outdoor life. Much of their spare time is spent on their farm in Calhoun County. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.