A Pet Peeve of Mine

Published by DonDavidson on

I need to get something off my chest. One of my pet peeves is ads that I feel are less than honest. (If you would like to read my previous blog entry about a dozen “lies” advertisers tell, click here.)

I recognize, of course, that many ads are helpful. For example, they may provide useful information about a product, or simply create awareness of a product. Without advertising, we might never know that a particular item meets a need, fulfills a desire, or could simply be useful in our lives.

However, I don’t like ads that seem designed to be deceptive. Here’s my latest example (the advertiser’s name has been omitted to protect the guilty):

It’s a fact. We’re not here for a long time. We’re here for a good time. And nothing delivers a better time on the golf course than a custom set of ****** golf clubs. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. You’ve earned the happiness that comes with playing our golf clubs. Visit ******* or call ********* to learn more. Nobody makes golf clubs like we do. Period.

Let’s start off with that opening: “It’s a fact. We’re not here for a long time. We’re here for a good time.” It makes me think of something spoken by the people of Jerusalem, as quoted in Isaiah 22:13: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.” The prophet criticized the people for focusing on their pleasures instead of on God. So from the start we know this advertiser is not playing by Christian rules.

Okay, I’m not naïve. Most advertisers are not trying to do what Jesus would do. They are doing what works. And often what works is to appeal to our worldly side—our pride and our greed. But let’s move on.

 “ . . . nothing delivers a better time on the golf course. . . .” This is merely a form of the commonly used advertising phrase, “nothing is better,” which really means “we’re just as good as they are.” It’s not a claim of superiority, but of equality—which is not really much of a claim. But you’re supposed to hear this and think, “Oh, they’re the best.” Of course, they didn’t actually say that.

“You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. You’ve earned the happiness that comes with playing our golf clubs.” Where do I start? The first sentence is a shameless appeal to our arrogant pride. They are saying that purchasing their product is not an extravagant indulgence. This is something you deserve, something you’ve earned. If you had actually earned it, like a pay check, you wouldn’t have to pay for it. Then again, we actually deserve very little in this life (something I talk about in “You Don’t Deserve This,” which is chapter 8 of Beyond Shallow Faith).

Then they add a false promise that these golf clubs will bring you “happiness.” Buy them and you’ll find out otherwise. Oh, they may bring you some excitement when they are new, but real happiness never comes from things. Real happiness comes from a relationship with God.

They end with another empty comparison: “Nobody makes golf clubs like we do.” That may well be true, but so what? It would also be true that nobody makes golf clubs like me, but you would not want any golf clubs I would make, any more than you would want golf clubs made by a five-year-old.

So there you have it: an ad full of empty promises and misleading claims.

I grant you that this is not really a big deal. The fact that it annoys me enough to blog about it may say more about me than about the ad. So feel free to ignore such ads if you like. Just don’t be fooled by them.


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