Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fishing for Stupidity

Listening to commercial radio is not normal for me. In my home market, I only hear MPR (KNOW news and information, if we're getting specific). But while on the road, there aren't so many options if you want to fill the emptiness in the car while driving alone.

So for the past few days I've been listening to classic rock station in a small market near my ancestral home. Fine, fine. Pretty inoffensive stuff. Van Halen is one act that I remember hearing.

The ads, though, are another story. It appears the only people who listen to this commercial radio station are fat, broke, desperate losers who fall for completely obvious bad deals. (Well, I could say the advertisers assume they will fall for bad deals. Maybe they don't. But then why would scammers keep advertising on the station?)

Today I heard two sets of ads for two products/services that each varied in how the offer was made.

First was a magical weight-loss capsule that guarantees you will lose 30 pounds of fat. The ad I heard around midday said you take two pills a day, but if you lose "too much weight" (!) that you should cut back to just one pill. The version I heard in the evening told you to take one pill each morning, but, again, if you lose too much weight, you should take a pill only on alternate days.

The other set of ads was for a debt-forgiveness "nonprofit" organization. They implied they could get up to half of your debt magically forgiven, with no mention of any cost to you. In the daytime ad, the minimum debt was said to be $2,000. In the evening ad, it was $10,000.

What was the point of these weird differences? All I can think is that they're doing A/B testing to see which message (and time slot?) draws more fools to call in. One of the ads even ended by saying "phone lines are open for the next five minutes" so they can track the response. I don't remember if the other version had that or not.

All in all, it made me want to run back to public radio.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Clearly, you don't watch daytime TV. The number of commercials very similar to what you described is disheartening, but I suppose the stations don't care as long as the advertisers pays for the time. I also question the ads for the various for-profit schools in the area who promise jobs after graduation. It's been really sad to me that one of my alma maters, the Minnesota School of Business, has really gone downhill since it was sold years ago and then sold again to Globe College. It used to be a highly respected business school when I went to it. Now I've heard that it lacks accreditation.