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Friday, 20 July 2012

There's Lies, Exaggerations and then There's Advertising!


A couple of evenings ago I was watching a programme on TV about this year's Olympics in London (I hate calling it London Twenty Twelve. That's just advertising puff). I realised this wasn't in praise of the Games, but was about the sponsors and the way they were taking advantage of their privileged position and also how some of the stuff they were selling and claims they were making were so much rubbish.

For instance Coca-Cola make a drink called Powerade which is perfect for "hydrating" athletes. In other words athletes are advised by Coke's experts to keep drinking when exercising or you're in danger of losing 2% of your body weight and to drink more when you finish exercising to top up your necessary body water levels. If you watch any athletics meeting, as soon as any race finishes (10k meters down to 100 meters) a bevvy of girls run across to the athletes and thrust bottles of Powerade at them, thus saving their lives (allegedly!). A medical expert ran a load of test for the programme and as part of his work and found there was absolutely no such thing as hydration A body has a backup reserve of water and rehydrates itself when necessary. A small amount of water tops that up quite nicely and the body will tell you when it needs it by making you ....yes, thirsty! The same medical expert, who also runs marathons, once tried the advise of "drink a little and often". He said he felt ill after 15 miles and was diagnosed as having drunk too much water. As a drink Powerade is quite pleasant, but as a means of staving off dehydration it would seem to be totally unnecessary....especially in petrol stations and supermarkets!

Visa, of course, as a valued sponsor of the Games (meaning they lobbed a load of cash somewhere) has dictated that only Visa cards can be used in any cash or vendor machines inside the Games precincts, meaning that any poor soul using Mastercard can only pay with cash (allegedly) which they'll have to have drawn out somewhere else in London..

Naturally MacDonalds is the preferred sponsor for takeaway foods and they're trumpeting how healthy their products are. Doesn't it strike you that a Games that celebrates the finest and fittest athletes in the world is mainly sponsored by companies that are leaving us a legacy of obesity. Could it be something to do with money?

Which takes me to one of my pet hates... "Your 5 a day"! Hardly a day goes by without some company telling us their product is one of our 5 a day. The worst of it is that the phrase is backed by the UK and USA governments so much that people now believe it's a matter of gospel. People no longer ask "5 what?" and how much is 1, let alone 2. If you eat twice as much of your 1 a day does that count as two? Actually although vegetables and fruit as part of your diet is probably good for you, there absolutely no evidence that not having "your 5 a day" is unhealthy for you. So where did the phrase come from? A New York greengrocer was having a hard time shifting his his goods.(presumably a MacDonalds had opened up opposite) so he put an advert in the papers extolling the vitue of eating 5 pieces of fruit and veg...which by chance could be bought at his store. The phrase caught on and has entered the national psyche, making a NY greengrocer a very happy man and supermarkets capable of traeting us all like kindergarten children.

Then there's names. We all hoover the house, but Dyson now outsells Hoover in the UK.

The world is ruled by product placement, sponsorship and advertising and the last and worst example of them all the famous Locog, the body that apparently owns the rights to all London Games logos. People, especially shops, have been told to take down anything that represents the 5 Olympic rings under pain of....pain! So much for the people's Olympic Games!

Blog on, Dudes!

1 comment:

  1. It's the way of the world, Richard. Everyone and everything on this planet is obsessed with money, and all this bullshit (pardon my vernacular) is about making money.

    A month ago, Iwa watchng Euro 2012 from Poland adn Ukraine, and the electronic advetsing boards around the ground were chocabloc with adverts... all in English????

    I'm thinking of having my novels sponsored. The Sanford Third Age Club Mysteries sponsored by... Saga? The Co-op Funeral Service? Steradent?

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