Friday, 26 June 2015

Shock Tactics Marketing - Where Does It End?

Pictures like this keep popping up at the side of my Facebook page and the more I tell Facebook I don’t want to see it, the more they swap it for something worse. 

Did they look at my age and decide I was badly in need of Anti-wrinkle cream or did they look at one of my other wrinkly photos? Is there some poor admin in the annals of Facebook currently having counselling because they saw a picture of me smiling sideways and tailored the adverts to aid my slow decline into decrepitude? What’s next? Will it be adverts for face lifts or tummy tucks after the picture of me in the pool at home?

I’ll sometimes accompany my husband to the garage when he fills the car. I know it’s not very entertaining but we live rurally and it can be quite exciting. Once my daughter had to chase a driverless utility vehicle down a bank because the driver went in to order a coffee and didn’t put the handbrake on. We live in a riveting town I tell you!

Most times, my husband dutifully orders me a coffee and I indulge myself in the corner of the shop with the trashy mags. They’re kept near the toilets but I won’t make any judgements about that and to give credit to our small township, I’m usually the only person sifting through.

I used to be a lot more interested, but then I think the standard of journalism was higher. There were definitely less typos and the facts were more or less true. At least we could bury our faces in the celebrity clad pages and feel reasonably confident there was no smoke without fire.

In recent years I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. There can be a whole inferno raging on the cover, with a full colour photo of some poor celebrity with the caption in capitals ‘PREGNANT’. I flick eagerly inside, avoiding the editor’s bit and all the adverts, perturbed by the fact that the image on the front is a male, but hey, we live in a surreal world nowadays. I get to the inside and find that there is actually a fire without smoke. Not a single fact can be found amongst the speculation and rumour. It has alas become true, we cannot judge a magazine by its cover.

I think what shocks me is the shamelessness of it all. I once clicked on a picture of Ellen crying and the caption was something like, ‘What Ellen didn’t want you to find out.’ I have to admit I actually didn't click on purpose. Perhaps now is the time to admit my clutzy fingers have an odd relationship with my keyboard mouse sometimes, but click I did.

Well, obviously poor Ellen looked away at a funeral or something because the snap was of her crying. It bore no relation to the advert and I very much doubt she uses this particular face cream. Apart from the complete lack of any other endorsement, it was a set up.

What these companies don’t realise is that what they’re doing isn’t clever.

They’re distorting the truth to the point we don’t know what to believe anymore. Celebrities are continually going on camera to declare the fabrication of stories and in the old days, we would have thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, no smoke without fire.’ Now, we don’t have that luxury.

No, Kim Kardashian isn’t having twins.

Poor Jennifer Aniston isn't pregnant for the eleventh time.

Honestly, I wasn’t bothered, particularly about Kim. I’ve never watched the programme she’s in and probably never will. But the media are now beyond the pale of corrupt and advertisers are following suit. I know I was stupid in my youth to believe that ‘99% of cats prefer it,’ and it was pretty dumb to think realistically that, ‘it kills 99.9% of all germs,’ but forgive me, I did. I was probably a student attempting to clean the toilet with ‘ammonia free’ products and realising they didn’t work, before I woke up and smelled the coffee...only it wasn’t coffee but we won’t go there.

Poor old Prince William was minding his own business, sitting in some gathering thinking, ‘Far out this is boring,’ and a photographer snapped a sneaky shot. Imagine his surprise when his momentary lack of face-control is linked to his wife’s face cream and his alleged awe at something she did with it whilst pregnant.

Affairs, hook ups, liaisons, apparently it all sells magazines.

Well no actually. Not if it’s all lies.

All it tells me is that sales are down and the publishers are scrambling, the face cream isn’t selling so great and some brain box in a downstairs room comes up with this genius plan. Anyone who’s ever bought something from the shopping channel will be nodding right now. When the wonderful machine to tone your abdominal muscles doesn’t actually fold down under the bed unless you sleep in a hospital one and the amazing robot hoover spends its life hiding under the sofa and won’t come out, you realise very quickly you’ve been had over yet again by the truth stretching of advertisers. 

I’ve become jaded. I stand in the garage and purview the trashy mag covers with disdain. There’s no point even picking them up anymore because the covers don’t relate to the innards. ‘She’s pregnant’ on the cover becomes, ‘somebody said she might be,’ inside. ‘Caught in the act’ on the cover becomes a heavily Photoshopped picture on the inside of two people who probably met by accident. It’s actually become more interesting watching the barista make my coffee.

And because I don’t know what to believe anymore, I involuntarily shed doubt on the allegations against Bill Cosby and others like him. Those poor women who stood up and made heartrending claims get less purchase from me than they deserve. My grandfather believed the newspapers. Maybe he shouldn’t have; the media has always been rife with propaganda. But somehow there seemed to be more honour amongst those journalists peddling their trade. Hey, both Spiderman and Superman were journalists weren’t they?

I think JK Rowling’s ‘Rita Skeeter’ is more near the mark nowadays.

Even with all the News of the World scandal in the UK, they don’t know when to stop. They haven’t realised I’m not reading, not clicking and not caring.

The magazines and newspapers get more outlandish to satisfy the quota they need to justify the advertisers nestled in their folds and I’M NOT BUYING. I’m ignoring them for the very tactics they’re using to get my attention.

I’m sure they’ll sit back and claim I never would have bought their magazine or paper anyway, but that’s where they’re wrong. If the cover really grabbed me and their claims seemed validated on the inside, I actually did. I’ve walked out with a coffee and a wad of papers and no, I didn’t steal them.

Am I the only one who is fed up of it?

Or are there more of us who sigh, flick the channel and wish for the days of semi-truth instead of no truth at all?