The Old Coot loves bad TV ads

Law firms (of the ambulance chasing variety), Big Pharma, and quackery products dominate the television advertising landscape. They make you mad, make you groan, or if you are like me, make you laugh out loud. 

They are so pathetic it makes you wonder why they do it. Simple answer, “Because it works!” The ambulance chasing ads that I chuckle at the most came from a law firm that proclaimed, “We leave no stone unturned!” They stuck with that theme for several years. 

I guess they finally ran into a stone they couldn’t turn. They switched their mantra to “Maximum Benefits!” That’s what they promise you’ll get if you hire them. They’ve moved on; now they say, “We’re nice, but tough!” We’re nice attorneys, but get tough when it comes to getting you maximum benefits. 

Television stations across the country are rife with attorney ads like this. It’s fun to tune to a local station when you’re out of town. It’s almost as entertaining as the local sightseeing attractions. 

My favorite ad at the moment doesn’t come from a law firm. It’s from Plexaderm – a so-called miracle ointment made from shale that removes wrinkles and those unsightly bags under your eyes. For a mere $59.95 you can regain your youthful looks. (Or, get a trial size for $14.95.) 

A group of users are paraded out, demonstrating the startling results, baggy eyes and all. The goop is dabbed on: presto, the wrinkles “seem” to disappear. It’s an all-out war on wrinkles and an all-out war on your wallet. Near the end of the ad, a 61-year-old personal trainer takes center stage. I laugh so loud I nearly fall off the sofa. She flexes her biceps to prove she is fit and health conscious. Unfortunately, she looks more like people in my age group. More like 80 than 61. (Not that there’s anything wrong with looking 80.) After a few dabs of Plexaderm her face actually does look less wrinkled. She looks younger. Not 80 any longer, more like 79 and a half. My wife watches my antics and gives me that “Would you just get over it” look. Old coots like me get that look all the time.  

But we don’t get over it; it’s one of our favorite pastimes, especially the anti-aging shams and the Snake Oil products that pharmaceutical companies bombard us with. Most often, with a beautiful, pastoral scene in the background and lovely music playing as they gently list the life-threatening affects you should be prepared for.  

One of the first of these snake oil products came right from the southern tier area; Doctor Kilmer’s Swamp Root Oil. He grew fabulously rich selling this cure-all. It came in 18 varieties, solved every medical problem know to man in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It didn’t hurt that it contained 10 percent alcohol. Many a teetotaler had no idea they’d become a “Doctor Kilmer’s Swamp Oil” alcoholic.

Yet, here we are, 150 years later, a sophisticated, well-educated society still being taken in by modern day hucksters. The ads are so ridiculous that they provide an endless stream of entertainment for cynical old coots like me. I just wish the networks would stop interrupting the ads with TV shows. 

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