Before the days of regulation, advertisers could make truly incredible claims about their products. Medicines were claimed to cure a huge range of ills, and given that many contained what are now Class A drugs, even if they didn’t effect a cure I suppose they might well have acted as a distraction. Talking of Class A drugs, as a youth with an upset stomach, I was offered kaolin and morphine – which is basically clay and heroin (so akin to shooting up in a Cornish mine) – which now strikes me as rather odd (not to say sinister).
Still, in these more enlightened times advertisers have to be somewhat more truthful in their statements. Though, thinking back to medicine and comparing the outrageous claims made by Messer Lemsip and Beecham about their palliatives and their actual effect on the cold (or ‘flu) ridden human body, I do wonder just how far we really have come…
However, today I shall focus on some very modest claims indeed made by current advertisers. I have seen adverts for hair dye which claim it will cover “up to 100% of grey hair” and for a toothbrush that removes “up to 100% of plaque”. I would like to point out to these folk that a bar of milk chocolate, a small pack of wood screws, the Companies Act 2006 and a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake could all make exactly the same claim as to their efficacy on one’s coiffeur or dentition. Sadly “up to 100%” encompasses 0% – and so is saying nothing at all (though, in the words of at least one song, this is when one says it best).
In a slightly related item, I am a sometime consumer of protein powder – well, my body having been torn apart in the pursuit of gymnastic glory needs some raw material to rebuild itself (better… faster… stronger – and all for far less than $6,000,000) and it is mostly made of protein. Being me, this is not just any old protein – nor, less you are hearing the music of Sailor (Glass of Champagne) in your head, does it come from M&S. This protein requires no less than seven adjectives to describe it – none of them to big it up, mind, just to describe it. I fear this may have worn them out, as when it comes to “suggested use” they merely say “one or more scoops” (so, at least I know never to use less than one – though I’m not sure what terribly consequence might ensue if I did) and defines a range of liquids to use as “mixers” but ends the list with “or your favourite beverage”. I have yet to try 437 scoops with a bottle of gin – but have been sorely tempted! (For the avoidance of doubt, gin is not my favourite beverage – this is merely an imposture for supposedly comic effect). The “suggested use” is not a claim per se, but very much a statement which leaves rather too much open to be of much utility – I suppose they have come down against mixing my scoop(s) with a gas, solid or plasma and have limited my choice of liquids to one which could be considered a beverage but frankly they could have saved the ink with no loss to the user.
I think it is time to campaign under the slogan, “if you have nothing to say, then say nothing”. Think of the savings! A risky choice for me, obviously, given the whole blog thing – but as you will have realised by now, I am the exception to every rule.