It’s pretty easy to be a little arrogant living here in modernity. Science has surged forward over the last century and we know a ton more about how the world works than our great grandparents could probably even imagine back in the early 20th century. medical marketing fails
Of course, in another hundred years, we’ll be on the other end of that. Surely our great grandchildren will be laughing at our ignorance of basic scientific facts. Facts such as how time machines can only go forward and not backwards. Or how the moon is actually made of birds. Or how the oceans were never rising—they were simply being dispersed due to the great arctic dragon hatching scourge of 2054. medical marketing fails
But, for now… we can laugh at all the marketing mistakes that our forebears made and attempt to forget that nagging notion that we are, alas, doomed to continually repeat them ourselves. medical marketing fails
1. A New Weapon Against Crime fails
The best part of this whole thing, despite the fact that it’s patently ridiculous in the most delightful of ways, is that the discovery appears to have come about as an unanticipated dividend in some scientists’ search for “identical human ears.”
Why were they interested in whether there were two identical ears in the world? Were they looking into implementing some sort of “ear printing” database? Was this an early attempt at exacting ear transplantation methodology? Did someone with an ear fetish end up on the board of a research facility scrambling for something to fund?
These questions are lost to history. What’s not lost, though, is the existence of the “CRIMINAL EAR.”
2. Tooth Oil
Toothpaste needs an upgrade. It’s too, well, pasty. As the ad says, Chlorox is the only toothpaste which permits you to oil your teeth.
Do you need permission for that sort of thing? I feel like if I want to oil my teeth, I can just go ahead and do so. There’s all kinds of oils in my kitchen right now. Do I have to submit some sort of formal request?
Also, I’m pretty sure the model they used for the ad was either coming from, or going to, a funeral. She looks like the first goth flapper.
3. Let’s Get Thinnical
This is actually a pretty amazing piece of marketing obfuscation.
Reading the copy the first time, I was pretty sure that the woman in question was smoking Silva’s because it made her thinner. That, of course, is exactly what the ad is selling.
But look at the copy again… it makes zero claims about her weight. Instead, it sort of spouts a bunch of nonsense that gives the impression of “smoke these and you’ll be thinner,” without ever saying that, in so many words, you’ll lose weight smoking Silva’s.
Genius. Evil genius.
4. I Can’t Even…
So, the pills are pink. And the people are pale. What do the pills do? Do the pills make people pink? Or less pale? Or even paler?
Is pale a good thing to be? Or should pale people not be pale? Is it strictly a physical attribute, or does paleness extend out to an existential state? What is paleness, anyway? What is “PINK”? Where am I?
When am I?
And what, OMG, are these substitutes I should not be accepting?….
5. That is Probably, Definitely Not Ginger Ale
I love the fact that this kid looks like he’s the poster child of “going on a bender.” No way is that ginger ale in his glass.
I also like that they define “ginger” as “pep.” Apparently north of the border you can just say one word means another one, willy-nilly.
“Pink” means “electron.” “Goose” means “an oppression of melancholy.” “Canada Dry” means “prison toilet wine.”
That’s actually kinda fun.
7. Your Flesh Deserves the Resiliency and Freshness of Youth
I’ve noticed something.
Back in the early twentieth century, they refer to both skin and fat as “flesh.” Were they aware there was a difference between those two things?
I’d like to see a demo of this thing. I could stand to have my double chin both “prevented” and “effaced.” And I could use a little gland-size reduction.
And it seems easy, right?
Just pull the cords!
Don’t you hate it when your wife is suffering from manic-depressive episodes that keep her from doing her household chores, picking up the dry cleaning, and fulfilling the rest of her wifely duties?
Or those days when the chemical imbalance in her brain is at its most acute and she can barely get out of bed to vacuum the hall?
Or those dark, dark days when her misery is at such deep levels that she can’t muster the will to iron your ties and pick up the children’s new yachting outfits from the department store?
That’s gotta be super hard on you.
This one isn’t as vintage as I’d prefer. Eating healthy isn’t a new thing. Americans had for generations tried to eat healthy. But what happened in 1980 shifted our attitudes about food, the full force of which we’re feeling today.
That was the year that the US Departments of Agriculture and health and Human Services pushed out the very first Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Which basically amounted to: Eat less fat, get more fiber, don’t eat so much salt, and cut down on sugar.
So, this ad is a direct shot back across the bow from the sugar industry. By focusing on the calories—empty or otherwise, it doesn’t matter, they’d prefer you’d just keep your attention on the math here—sugar suddenly becomes a diet food.
And we wonder why we’re one, fat, and two, highly suspicious of all things marketing.