There’s always something new to learn about fish

Today, in what could possibly become the first in a regular* series, we look at: Advertising slogans.

Now, pretty much everyone in the world is subjected to advertising all day long, whether it’s online, on TV, on radio, in printed media, on billboards and signs. We are used to hearing and reading inane little catch-phrases devised to appeal to the listener and entice him/her to buy whatever product/service is being peddled, but, ironically, often insulting any thinking person’s intelligence in the process. These are so commonplace that the stupidity of a specific piece of advertising barely seems worth commenting on, but on the other hand, sometimes the stupidity stops us in our tracks. When that happens, we need to point them out to someone else and say “WTF?” Well, that’s what this post asks you, dear reader.

This week seems to have been full of dumb slogans. Probably because I felt so lazy on Sunday night that I watched some free-to-air TV. That will do it, for sure.

Here’s just one example of what I encountered there. An ad that begins with a musical fanfare that lasts about 2 seconds, and signals to Australian audiences that we are about to see an “infomercial” – a tried-and-true format that’s been on our TVs for at least about 20 years, cunningly disguised as some kind of community service to provide the consumer with straight-up information about a product, with no made-up story or background music.

It has as much integrity as a segment on a morning talk show, where the host asks a marketing person some really hard questions about the vibrating weight-loss belt featuring that day, we cut to shots of slim, good-looking models using the vibrating belt – and then back to the studio, where the host and the marketing person both agree what a fantastic product it is!

But back to our ad. After the quick fanfare, Pavlov’s dogs the TV viewer is greeted by a pleasant, semi-professional-but-not-in-a-threatening-way woman – with wavy, brunette, shoulder length hair, slim and of indeterminate age – old enough to be taken seriously but not look “old” – wearing a neatly pressed, loose-fitting, shirt and slacks, standing in front of a wall of shelves in a supermarket.

“Let’s face it,” she chirps brightly at the camera “there’s always something new to learn about fish!”

Now, this statement could – perhaps unkindly – be described as a pretty inane opening to an ad, but my criticism of this ad is not that I disagree with this statement. Humans do have the capacity to continually learn new things, and that includes new things about fish. Whether you are a marine biologist, or a hairdresser who always wanted a goldfish, I’m of the school of thought that one can always learn something new about anything, and fish certainly fit into that category. (i.e. “anything”).

To prove my point, I have written posts previously on the topic of things I’d like to know more about, and amongst the long list of things I’d like to know more about, alluded to fish (within the general category of deep sea creatures.)

Fish are part of an incredible aquatic ecosystem that fills our rivers and our oceans. There are fish that walk, fish with teeth and fish that are bioluminescent (included the dreaded, yet cutely-named cookiecutter shark!). It’s not hard to imagine that the drive to uncover more information about fish could indeed become a life-long obsession.

So at this point in the ad, I’m right with you, smiley lady in the neat shirt. Hit me with some facts about fish!

A walking fish.

A walking fish.

Pic: Suess.Wikia

But in the next second we discover what type of fish this woman is referring to. Today’s new information about fish relates to…..the Finger variety, classification: Genus Fishus Fingerus.

Ah yes. Commonly known as the Fish Finger. Most often found swimming in the bottom of the greasy water in the sink after the dishes have been washed, the Fish Finger is a strange, primitive creature, barely evolved from single cell organisms as scientists have so far had difficulty detecting any nervous, respiratory or digestive system, and when observed under water, they exhibit almost no movement, and begin to disintegrate after a few days, a trait that is highly unusual in aquatic creatures. Scientists are also still in the dark as to how this species reproduces, but note that numbers are at a healthy level and the Fish Finger is not on the endangered species list.

Some have joked that in a darkened room, the fish finger could be mistaken for a piece of cardboard, and indeed, if Coal Mining industries have their way, Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef, currently the home to a wide variety of marine life, may become a large, bleached-out, colourless pit of sludge best suited to hosting schools of fish fingers or cardboard. But that’s getting us off track.

When I encounter a line like this opening an ad, I am compelled to stop and picture the meeting where the creatives were tossing around ideas to meet the client’s brief. I am just totally perplexed as to how, when briefed to devise an ad campaign for processed stuff that is almost definitely not fish, sculpted into something that doesn’t look like a fish, some bright spark came up with the idea of running ads disguised as infomercials that begin with the statement that we can always learn more about fish.

What, exactly, are we to learn about fish, from a box of fish fingers? That this is what happens to fish that don’t eat their peas??

The primitive Fishus Fingerus, wishing it had eaten its peas.

Two primitive Fishus Fingeruses. Above them is a sea cauliflower. Next to them, some sea cauliflower pooh.

Pic: Huffington Post

And lastly, but definitely not leastly, why, when writing the script for this ad, would you start that line, which will so quickly be proved to be meaningless, with Let’s Face It? That’s a phrase most often used when you are about to reveal an unpleasant truth to someone who probably already knows it.

Let’s face it, Bob, ever since you got that wooden leg your chances of winning the State Breakdancing Competition have been very slim.

Let’s face it, Margery, if you eat another tub of ice-cream tonight you’re not going to fit into that leotard tomorrow.

Let’s face it, if you turn on the school alarm right before the exam, you’ll end up in detention AND still have to take the exam.

It just doesn’t fit at the start of neutral, observational statements unless it’s going to be accompanied by negative news at the end:

Let’s face it, the bus is due at 10.25. (so you’re going to miss it.)

Let’s face it, those are fantastic shoes you’re wearing. (but they just don’t go with your dress)

Let’s face it, I just saw Joe up the street. (and he still looks as if he’s about to croak any minute.) 

And it’s definitely out of place at the start of an upbeat announcement:

Let’s face it, we’re having a baby!

Let’s face it, I passed my exams with flying colours and got into the university of my choice!

Let’s face it, flights to Bali are on sale for the next 48 hours, let’s go on a holiday! 

Let’s face it: after all things are taken into consideration, I just can’t fathom how anyone came up with that opening line for an ad about fish fingers.

I’m afraid the sheer idiocy of that line was the only part of this ad that I took in, so I can’t tell you what information about fish was actually imparted within the contents of the remaining 30 seconds of air time. I’m pretty sure it was not why and how some fish are bioluminescent; a fact that I only mention a second time because I love the word, and concept: bioluminescence. I’m also fairly sure it did not touch on the fact that some fish are in danger of becoming extinct, or anything to do with fish other than their very tenuous connection to the Fish Finger.

Which is a shame, because it would be a great community service, to impart new facts about fish on TV every day.

*

*Here at Blathering About Nothing, a “regular” series could be anything that’s been posted at least once in the last 5 years. Notable series so far include the dangers of yoga mats, and – well, that’s about it.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Let’s face it: Fish fingers don’t seem all that appetizing.

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. weebluebirdie

     /  April 2, 2016

    But you haven’t told us the new thing you learned about fish fingers!!!!! I can’t take the suspense. I’m quite fond of the angler fish – so cool that it has a torch on its head 🙂 Also fond of your definition of ‘regular series’ – mine too!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • I saw the ad again tonight (while watching The Wizard of Oz on Free-to-Air) and the whole ad whisks by in 45 seconds or less, so it was very hard to take in what the new information was, but I think it might be….that if you are bored with eating fish fingers the usual way, you can make fish finger tacos???? I was focussing on making absolutely sure there was no information about fish that sneaked in anywhere, and I’m pleased to say, for the credibility of my post, that’s correct: there was none.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • weebluebirdie

         /  April 3, 2016

        The previous Dr Who – Matt Smith – apparently liked fish fingers with custard. Wonder how many people actually tried that one??!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I wish I hadn’t read that while eating my breakfast. Yuk!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Like garbage and politicians, advertising is an inevitable and insalubrious by-product of civilization.

    The unfortunate fact is that advertising pays. More than that, though, merchants find advertising a necessity in an increasingly noisy and competitive world. Just keeping your brand in the public consciousness among the general clamour is essential.

    Advertising is inserting itself into every department of life. We are reminded of this whenever we see footage of old football or tennis matches in which the players are wearing shirts free from advertising.

    Advertisers have to bust a gut just to get noticed and so use every trick in the book from scare tactics (‘what your best friend won’t tell you’) to pseudo-science to grab your attention.

    And it’s going to get worse and get more personal. Already, if you don’t clear cookies in your Web browser, you will be receiving adverts targetted at your interests as revealed by what you search for. That is just the tip of the iceberg on its way towards us.

    Advertising is, in my view, one of the major pollutants of our environment. It may not be as physically dangerous as, say, the fumes of burnt hydrocarbons, but its presence everywhere, impinging on the eye (and often the ear) and therefore on the brain, means that it affects our thinking whether we realize it or not. Many of what we think are free-will choices of what brand to buy are subconsciously influenced by advertising. The ‘infomercial’ is especially insidious because it convinces the naive that they are receiving unbiased correct information on which to safely base their buying decisions.

    Should advertising not be more tightly controlled? Of course it should. But the people who could do this are politicians and advertisers are the same people who contribute generously to the funds of political parties, so don’t expect changes any time soon.

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    • Insidious is a good word for most common advertising techniques and the way they work on us. Another technique is the appeal to our sense of self-worth or anxiety about being as good/smart/pretty/savvy as others, eg. Loreal’s “You’re Worth It” slogan a few years ago, or the many ads depicting neighbors outdoing one another with better houses/roofing/cars/insurance plans, etc.

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