Bill Moeller Commentary: Gripes and Groans on Stupidity in Advertising From Crotchetyman


As someone who has spent a “few” years in broadcasting, I’ve become slightly irritated by consumer abuse in advertising.

What is the percentage of people who write TV ads that think we’re blithering idiots? There are two types of ads we see regularly, especially during the daytime hours. One is where the sponsor pays a predetermined fee to have the ad broadcast. There’s nothing wrong with that. The other is the ad where you’re given a telephone number to call and the sponsor then pays the TV station a specified amount for each call received from the ad.

All calls are electronically recorded to eliminate — or at least lessen — any cheating on the part of the advertiser. That’s often the kind of ad where you might see a product or service available “for a limited time.”

That “limited time” often runs week after week or even month after month with the same spiel. Hearing aid ads tend to fall into that pigeonhole.

Ads like that are usually limited to daytime broadcasts for two reasons: one is because the station can’t acquire as much money from daytime ads as they would for evening ones because the people with the most money are working and bosses generally frown on employees who might turn their computer into a TV set.

In my mind, the other reason is that those with items or services to sell seem to assume that just because we’re no longer spending our time at the office our brain cells have withered away. I’ll admit mine have seemed to follow that route an increasing number of times in recent years, but I can still produce what I hope are coherent essays on the joys and pains of modern life in columns such as this.

Then, there’s the ad that avows that “If you call in the next 15 minutes, you’ll receive not only this rice chopper but also (you may, if you choose, fill this spot in yourself).”

I betcha,  though,  you’d find the product mysteriously available if you called in the middle of the night.

The ad that says “buy one room carpet, get two more free” is like the ad at the store where I generally shop that says “buy one package of frozen chicken breasts and get one free.” That’s another test of our intelligence unless we don’t look at the packages to see that the price of “one” has just doubled.

In addition, there are the insurance companies that claim you will save money over “Brand X” if you buy from us when — all the while — “Brand Y” is saying exactly the same thing about them. As many of you may know, I’m not making these things up, folks! 

And that’s the sad part; the part where the seller is actually successful at making money from these disclaimers!

On a similar rant, outside of “Jeopardy,” I don’t think I’ve watched more than a few seconds — just the time it takes to switch past it — on any game shows where it seems customary for a contestant to jump up and down after discovering they’re a winner at something or other. In reality, I guess we only have to say that the contestant only jumps up; the down part takes care of itself.

On the other hand, I seem to feel that justice and equality is beginning to show itself in commercials where the husband is, by far, the stupid one and the wife says something like “Oh George...”

(I just can’t remember a specific ad where that breakthrough has happened, though.)

On a lighter side, though, I leave you with this thought: You guys are likely near or over the average retirement age if you ever build a radio or an amplifier from a Heath Kit.


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at