It Ads Up

The number of advertisements each of us sees in a day is sizable. According to a 2019 LinkedIn article, each person in the US is exposed to over 5,000 ads every 24 hours. That’s 4,500 more each day than we saw in the 1970s.

Maybe the volume of ads we see today is why I don’t seem to remember products as well as I did 45 years ago. When Nixon, Ford, and Carter were in the White House, the ways companies could reach us was limited to radio, television, print, and billboards.

Today, we still have all of those, but we also have ads on websites, social media, and other ways to pitch products that the people on Madison Avenue could have only dreamed of when Uncle Walter was on the CBS Evening News.

Lunchmeat, soap, and laundry detergent were the big items that seemed to find their permanent way into my young memory banks. Every cute kid who could somewhat carry a tune wished they were an Oscar Mayer Weiner. And that shaggy-haired boy with the fishing pole on TV sang a lot about baloney.

I always envied him. We were so poor that our baloney didn’t have a first name.

Before Spam became an email you didn’t want, it was canned meat that made lunches affordable. A mom could buy a can of Spam, fry it up, slather some mustard or mayo on it, and wedge it between two pieces of light bread, and she had happy kids.

Hormel didn’t really need ads to sell Spam. Most households in our family ate it all the time, but Spam still found its way onto television, with shots of somebody’s mom flipping slices in a cast iron skillet.

Soap was a mainstay of radio and television advertising. The name, “Soap Operas” was due to most daytime dramas having a soap product sponsor. Palmolive, Lifebuoy, and Ivory soap bars lined bathroom sinks across America, while Pearl, VO5, and Head & Shoulders shampoos accompanied them in the tubs and showers.

I still remember the lady dropping a real pearl into a bottle of Pearl Shampoo and watching it slowly slide toward the bottom of the bottle. The bottle was glass and did break if dropped onto a cast iron bathtub, as I learned.

Tide, Oxydol, and Fab were how our bell-bottoms were cleaned.

Today, I couldn’t tell you the name of one new lunchmeat, soap, or laundry detergent that’s pitched, but I still buy and use Oscar Mayer meats, bars of Ivory Soap, bottles of Alberto VO5, and containers of All Detergent.

Old habits die hard.

Speaking of that kid singing about his baloney, advertising jingles used to be a lot more prominent than they are today. Coke used to like to teach the world to sing; people drank Dr. Pepper and they were proud; if you wanted Kentucky Fried Chicken, you had to visit Colonel Sanders; and we were all stuck on Band-Aid, cause Band-Aid was stuck on us.

By the way, before he found fame with Lola who was a showgirl, Barry Manilow wrote many of our favorite ad jingles, including that Band-Aid ditty that’s still suck in our heads. Don’t laugh; Barry made a lot of money with that and, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

Today, about the only catchy jingle singing I hear is Nationwide Insurance. I don’t know who that lady is that’s singing a jazz version of their, “Nationwide is on your side” lyric, but she’s good.

As for insurance companies and advertising, haven’t they come to the forefront when it comes to buying commercials? When I was a tot, they either sponsored golf tournaments or shows on PBS. Met Life had a blimp with Snoopy on it (they stole that idea from Goodyear), but you didn’t hear much else from insurance folks.

Today, you can’t get away from ads by these guys. And, they’re funny ads. GEICO, which stands for Government Employee Insurance Company, seemed to start it with their caveman ads; then came Flo with Progressive, and now that obnoxious guy with his emu for Liberty Mutual.

Well, I guess they’re ads that are trying to be funny.

They spend a lot of money trying to convince me to switch the coverage on my 1992 Toyota long bed pickup to them, but it isn’t working. I’m still with the same insurance company we’ve had for years, but I appreciate their efforts.

No, I don’t think more advertisements are the answer. Fewer, with better messaging is still the way to go.

I need to run. My Spam sandwich is getting cold.


©2021 John Moore

John’s new book, Puns for Groan People, and his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website – You can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.

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