Guest op-ed: Jingles jangle our society
God, school teachers, veterans and puppy dogs are among America’s most sacred institutions. Who in their right mind would think to openly criticize any of them?
But these four venerable institutions don’t even touch our most sacred cow of all — American business. And why? Probably because corporate money is the real power behind every throne in America, whether the agency be media, education, government, the military, elections, even the church. Money pulls all those strings.
The products and services produced by American ingenuity are often truly helpful, but the way in which they are sold is not always ethical. Advertisements are often sophomoric, flattering, prurient, exaggerated, ridiculously rosy, intimidating, irresponsible or just plain lies. One need only think of how many decades of concerted effort it took to penetrate the ghastly corporate armor of the tobacco industry, with all of its happy-go-lucky, misleading advertising and gruesome cancer deaths. Cigarette advertising blazed the trail.
Here are a few advertising jingles that I present to you here as a way of shaming our 1% class. I have removed corporate identification from them, but what I can’t remove, and what will make it difficult for this piece to be published, is my judgmental attitude toward America’s most sacred institution. This is what an aging boomer who still has a stake in this world has a right to say.
“Don’t live life without it (your credit card).” Hmmm, this little gem is tantamount to saying, “Don’t live life without debt.” Good advice for our country too!
“You wanna go where everybody knows your name (our restaurant).” If people don’t know your name at school or at work, try this place. Everyone who works or eats here will soon know your name!
“The last thing you’ll need is a road (if you have our truck).” Cool, buy a truck and go off-road in the county and in life.
“Play has no limits.” Why not spend all your available time video gaming?
A new soft drink brand encourages girls and women to empower themselves by “dressing and doing as we please.” If you do whatever you want, and drink our new brand, no one will ever think of you as “trashy” or anything other than “fun.” “We’ll never be sorry for who we are. No one should.” Yep, that’s the path to personal power every parent should want their daughters to take.
“Life’s easier in a _______ (our car brand).” No, I don’t think buying a new car really touches education, health care, or higher wages as far as making life easier.
“Be the hero.” This little gem comes from a fast cash company. The message? Go out and get yourself an absurdly high-interest loan that you will have to renew over and over again. If you do, you will save the day for your family, your friends, your country!
I cringed at the barrage of TV ads in my neck of the woods for a wrinkle-melting face cream. These were run regularly during news hour reports of the thousands of COVID victims taken across the country.
And how many companies announced during the first wave, “We’ll be stronger than ever before.” When each new wave roared back and we weren’t stronger, the message was just repeated. The hope here, of course, is that company profits will forever grow, even if the great bulk of the citizenry can no longer spell their own names, breathe or find their way to the voting booth.
Robert Kimball Shinkoskey is a retired state government worker who writes about history, politics and religion, including “Democracy and the Ten Commandments.”