Dangerous Ads

Thought patterns and philosophies have changed over time – many of us are familiar with sexist advertisements that ran in magazines in newspapers in decades and centuries past:

vintage-sexist-ads (13)[3][2]

Yikes. And this isn’t even the worst of them.

I was recently pointed to a collection of ads that were not only stupid but downright dangerous:











Some of these simply contravene common sense, like the “vitamin doughnuts” ad above, but some of them are downright toxic, for example the DDT advertisement. You can see a full exposition on each of these over at Collector’s Weekly.

And of course, don’t forget the “Guinness is Good For You” campaign:


Have we changed all that much, though? I rant regularly about quack remedies and sleazy advertisements that seem so prevalent on the web (if you don’t want to see these, consider using AdBlocker Plus for Firefox or Chrome – you’ll see almost no ads.)

As I said at the post I referenced above, regarding the “Açaí Berry / Colon Cleanse” scam,

Colon cleansing is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Your colon is an amazing apparatus. With the exception of abnormal medical conditions such as fecal impaction due to longstanding constipation, or intestinal torsion, your colon cleanses itself efficiently and regularly. If you do a colon cleanse, you’re likely to lose a few pounds as the result of clearing out two days worth of food in your system, but as soon as you start eating again, it will come right back. Colon cleansing on a regular basis can disrupt the natural intestinal flora, and impair the colon’s natural ability to regenerate its lining. A diet rich in soluble and insoluble fibers is all your body needs to keep your colon happy, and doing what it does best – absorbing nutrients and expelling wastes.

As for the berry itself,

Antioxidants are good. Virtually thousands of randomized, double-blind, placebo-based studies published in JAMA, Lancet and other mainstream medical journals show that free-radical scavengers help improve overall health. Fruits are full of antioxidants. The açaí berry is a fruit. Just like strawberries, kiwis, oranges, grapefruits, pomegranates, mangosteens, ningxia wolfberries, and you name it. When consumed as part of a balanced diet, they’re all good for you. But there is nothing “miraculous” about this or any other fruit.

The sad bottom line is that most advertising is borderline unethical by nature. It’s either

  • Misleading
  • Outright deceptive
  • Practicing “bait and switch” tactics, or
  • Designed to create a burning, passionate desire for something that you don’t really need.

It’s a conundrum, because advertising is what drives commerce, and commerce is what drives society. If nobody bought anything, practically nobody would have a job and our economy would collapse.

I don’t have all the answers, but if the human race is ever going to crawl out of the mud,  ethical business is a must. We need to teach our upcoming generations that the end does not justify the means.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

2 responses to “Dangerous Ads

  1. One form of advertising you forgot is the good old FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Go back and look at the Lysol ads again.

    We have a local Roll-Up Garage Door seller who trades in FUD – pushes you to replace your “Dangerous, Worn Out Old Tilt-up Garage Door…” But a sectional can be just as deadly if you’re in the wrong place when the spring snaps.

    DDT isn’t all that bad /when used responsibly/ in sparing amounts to curb specific pests. Problem was, the 1940’s farmers, ranchers and homeowners dumped it everywhere by the ton, under the “if a little is good, more is better” doctrine. And then Montrose Chemical Co. (a major west coast manufacturer) compounded the insult by cleaning the equipment and hosing down the factory floor every day, and they washed literally tons more of ‘waste’ DDT a year down the sewers and storm drains, into the L.A. River and out into the Santa Monica Bay… There’s still a significant residue in the sediments to this day.

    Then again, sometimes they were right – modern science has proven that a drink or two a day (beer or wine) IN MODERATION is actually good for you, in combination with a reasonable diet and exercise. It’s when you kill the whole fifth of wine or sixer by yourself…

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