Most of the time I’m on-brand for my star sign: Mr On-The-One-Hand-On-The-Other-Hand, that’s me. But there are times when I see only one hand, and looking at the health warnings on TV commercials is one of them.
A commercial break during the football earlier delivered a particularly infuriating double whammy. The first was a title towards the end of an innocuous ad for something or other reading “Subject To Availability.” How stupid is that? What is the point of it? If this commercial had to carry this title, why don’t all commercials have to carry it? All products and services are, by definition, subject to availability. If they’re not available, then they are, how can I put this, not available. In what possible way is the interest of the consumer served by making the advertiser put this stupid message on the commercial?
And then another golden oldie, getting increasing exposure now that mortgage advertising is on the up and up again: “Your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage.”
This one’s actually doubly ludicrous. First, although I spend half my life giving talks about consumers’ lack of understanding of many aspects of the financial world, I don’t believe there are many who believe that they can borrow the money to buy a home, make no repayments and face no negative consequences. Is anyone that stupid and in need of such an entirely obvious warning?
But the second point is that even if they are, a TV commercial is NOT THETIME OR PLACE TO DO IT. Before the borrower signs on the dotted line, it may well be that it would be a good thing if a real live person, or alternatively a little admonitory online video, as well as a written document, highlighted all the risks they’ll be running if they choose to proceed. But there is no need whatever to give such warnings during a TV commercial which even the most enthusiastic borrower will be seeing weeks before completing the transaction. As I think I’ve said before on this blog, including this message in a TV commercial is like running a poster for a luxury hotel and including a caption saying “Our trifle may contain nuts”: if you’re in the dining room and making a pudding choice this message may be crucial, but while you’re standing on Weybridge station admiring the picture in a 48-sheet it really isn’t something you need to worry about.
Anyway. I suppose it’s bad to be repeating not only rants from previous blogs, but even the same analogies that I used last time to illustrate the rant. But then again, that’s how life is – we’re infuriated on a regular basis by the same things, and the same analogies come to mind to help illustrate our infuriation. I expect I’ll cover it again in a year or two.