By Craig Hastings
I’m not the one that usually pays much attention to television commercials unless they are automotive related, are announcing an upcoming new television series, or those promoting not for profit organizations i.e. St. Jude’s, Shriners, etc. I still prefer print advertising over audio/graphic advertising, because I prefer the opportunity to read over any advertisement more than once. Of course, in order to realize which are which we need to pay attention to the lead in statements and graphics of all television commercials flashed before us during the programs we tune in, too. However, lately I’ve had a change of attitude toward some promotional 30-second television advertising.
I’ve been working full time since I was 17 years old without a break between jobs. When I was younger with limited income l didn’t buy many things extra. I always knew what it was I wanted next and planned accordingly. I didn’t pay attention to any advertisement trying to sell me something I didn’t really need, because I just wasn’t going to be able to go out and buy something I didn’t really need. Gear head buddy Tim and I did follow the local newspaper classified ads for used 60’s and 70’s muscle cars like the ones we ourselves were driving. Print newspapers were the gold mine for shopping used car sales in the 70’s and 80’s. The News-Gazette used to have a dozen pages earmarked for their weekend publications advertising used automotive vehicles and products. Tim and I would scoop up the Sunday editions and were later the same day doing the, “Did you see this Camaro, that Roadrunner”…and every other muscle car for sale back in the day we read about for sale.
Sometimes we would drive to one of the surrounding towns to see if we could see the very cars we just read about for sale. Driving to Champaign back in the late 70’s was a big deal for teenagers. Mostly and best of all, it was because there wasn’t any need to venture out of good ol’ Tuscola because our little town had everything anybody could want. We even had our own hospital! Add to that, three new car dealerships representing every American auto manufacturer, a dozen gas stations, four grocery stores, four clothing stores which included the mega store, Four Seasons, three family doctor’s offices, dentists offices, Galey optometry, Post Office, General Telephone Office, etc…. Tuscola had it all!!!
Okay I’ve strayed afar from the reason I’m writing this. Here’s what I’ve been paying attention to lately on television. Every television station has been inundated with travel commercials ever since too many Americans have been dying in those advertised tropical paradises. I’ve been paying attention, and what I’ve discovered is that someone my age is not the targeted market these places are trying to lure to their travel spider webs. I’ve always taken it for granted I was any company’s fair game for most anything they were selling. Never did I think about out growing a commercial market but apparently I have. Why do I feel left out in the Caribbean travel promotional television advertising?
Just look at the scantily clad beach goers! That certainly isn’t me nor would I dare to wear so little anymore. Forty years ago maybe but not now. And I can tell you for sure these younglings wouldn’t want my old self participating in their white sandy beach good times. It doesn’t stop with the sunny white beach scenes either. Next we get to see all of these same perfectly sculpted bodies in evening wear that is also covering as little as permissible in a restaurant! For sure nobody wants to put food in their mouth with me sitting across from them wearing such evening wear! And, when TV viewers do see my senior crowd for a brief moment, it’s the incredibly rich senior crowd arriving in limousines. When these senior models exit their chauffeured rides they are dressed in expensive clothing tailored to their own fit and trim selves; again an embarrassing comparison to my own physical statue.
While I’m on the travel rant I’ll point out another set of travel commercials my generation has been left out. Several of the auto manufacturers are promoting their newest SUVs on television now. We see young parents with their young children enjoying the countryside while vacationing in their new SUVs! Well, I own an SUV and just because I don’t travel the scenic roadways of America anymore doesn’t mean I must be driving my grandma’s Oldsmobile because I’m “older”! Why is it only the 30-something adults are probably traveling around the county with their young children? My generation still has their driver’s licenses right? I guess I’m too old to own a new pickup truck too. All of the Big Three are advertising their trucks at construction sites, loading zones, and plowing through rough terrain. Men in their 30s and 40s surround the trucks dressed in tough guy attire in these commercials. I guess an old worn out guy like me dressed in my gym shorts and sleeveless Illini shirt is too weak to haul stuff in the bed of a rough and tumble new truck?
But wait a minute! All of these trucks have all the luxury amenities of a new Cadillac sedan! Why can’t I have a new heavy duty truck to drive my family around in if I want too? Most grocery stores have curbside loading available so in my weakened state I’m assumed to be in, the “young people” could load my stuff in the bed of my new truck! I might even drive to a lumberyard and purchase a piece of wood to carry around town for all to see! Nope, Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge think I’m too old to have any purpose for owning a new heavy duty truck. I don’t own a hardhat, work goggles, tool belt, concrete mixer, portable table saw, or a 30 foot length of the heaviest chain a person can buy to carry around in the back of a new heavy duty truck. Too old and too feeble at my age.
Oh well, it’s all good. I’ll carry on regardless of what the advertising departments of the television world think I need to be doing and driving. I have Mediacom’s Extreme system throughout my house so this old man will just skip right past all the commercials not targeting my feeble generation. I’ll read magazines and newspapers for my advertising search and purchase needs from now on. However, I won’t be searching for a speedo to wear on a Barbados or Bahama white sandy beach. Everyone going there can thank me for that. I’ll keep the SUV I have and even drive it on vacation even though television assumes I’m too old. Finally, I won’t shop for a heavy duty pickup truck either, because I don’t want a bunch of 30-something guys beating me up and taking it away from me because I don’t look tough enough to be driving it. Since television promos think I’m too old to target as a potential product consumer, maybe I should thumb through the pages of my local newspaper or a magazine and pick out a shirt I want my family to dress me in at my funeral!