Advertising is weird. It sometimes seems to be a sort of conspiracy, in which we are complicit whether we like it or not. Do we really believe the claims adverts make or do we use them as an excuse to buy the things we want anyway? For example, look at shampoo adverts, which are some of the worst culprits for talking nonsense. One such claims to be “inspired by decades of genetic research.” I mean, what does that mean, for goodness’ sake? This is just soap that you put on your head, right? I find it hard to believe anyone really takes that announcement seriously and at face value. What then are the advertisers trying to achieve? There seem two likely explanations: first, the aforementioned excuse to buy into some kind of lifestyle and second an attempt to sneak something sciency-sounding under our radars to influence us without our really knowing it. Or perhaps there’s a third alternative: advertisers are lazy and stupid.
I don’t know which of these – if any – are near the mark or whether more than one is true. What I do know is that it seems to be getting worse, or at least more blatant. It’s as though advertisers has stopped caring whether they are even perceived to be telling the truth.
I find this vaguely unsettling, as if we’ve somehow lowered our standards for truth without realising it and without being consulted.