Baby boomer echoes

by Teresa R. Zaverl

Any TV watcher knows about commercials. And in this day and age, with all channels we access, how can one not be aware? <BR><BR>It seems their frequent appearance allows time spans long enough to zap the leftovers, brush your teeth and take the dog for a walk around the block.<BR><BR>If you’re patient enough to sit through them, what do you really see and hear?<BR><BR>TV commercials today are a far cry from those the Boomer kids grew up with. They cover the gamut of A-Z. Commercials today not only try to promote a product but are psychologically geared to get you thinking that you might posses too much debt, need a brokerage company, appear too old or fat for your age, don’t pay enough attention to your kids or pets (besides yourself), homes aren’t clean enough, and there are plenty of medicinal routes to relieve your headaches, aches and pains, skin problems and other personal dysfunctions.<BR><BR>Where have all the REAL commercials gone? You remember the ones that came on about every half-hour and lasted a minute.<BR><BR>Being Boomers, we were the first generation of kids introduced to television and we witnessed firsthand just what TV advertising could do. Those commercials introduced us to products, maybe some not available in Ely, but somewhere deep in our psyches we subliminally received the message to buy. <BR><BR>So what were some of the commercials a Boomer kid would certainly remember crossing his/her black and white TV screen?<BR><BR>When the family gathered around the tube for prime time viewing you could bet you’d see some of the following ads. I don’t remember every one of them, but as I usually say, “You fill in the blanks with your own memories.” So, here goes.<BR><BR> Gillette razors (for a close shave), Norelco electric shavers (with the spinning heads), Chevrolet’s “See the USA in a Chevrolet,” Ford vehicles “Ford has a better idea,” Westinghouse (the light bulb clicking on), and General Electric products from washers to irons, Alcoa products (aluminum).<BR><BR>And since the Surgeon General hadn’t yet warned the country on the dangers of cigarette smoking, we saw plenty of commercials for Camels, Winston, Pall Malls, Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes and Salems. Commercials even depicted a concerned family physician offering his patient a smoke before reading his (maybe) grave report. <BR><BR>Remember that “Winston taste good like a cigarette should?” Elementary kids were singing their own form of that jingle, it went: “Winston taste good like a cigarette should, no filter, no flavor, it tastes like toilet paper!” <BR><BR>About the most risqué thing we witnessed in the campaign of TV marketing was the cigarette girl, dressed in her short-skirted frock, selling tobacco products from the box dangling around her neck. She was in some nightclub alluring male patrons with “ Cigars, cigarettes, Cigarillos.” Other than that, we might have seen a baby’s bare bottom patted with Johnson’s Baby Powder or the Double Mint twins in bathing suits slapping their two packs of gum together. <BR><BR>Housewives were great targets as household consumers, and they viewed more than enough products geared for keeping the family clean and tidy. All that came into view while Ma watched the afternoon soap operas. Ivory Snow commercials, Oxydol, Spic and Span, Pine-Sol, Hi-lex, Glass Wax, and Niagara Spray Starch (to name a few.)<BR><BR>And Boomer kids with ideas of owning a toy empire were seduced during cartoon time by Mattel, Tonka toys, Parker Brother’s games, Chatty Kathy and the studious doll who was seated in her very own school desk (I forget her name). Barbie and company and GI Joe for starters. We weren’t immune to the lure of just a little indulgence. <BR><BR>TV opened a whole new way of selling - starting more simply and growing to what we absorb today. The message is still clear “Buy me!”<BR><BR>The older generation has criticized Boomers for being self-absorbed and self-indulgent. I would guess the invention of TV took us there. But to defend my generation with its faults and all, who can escape advertising now? There’s something out there pertaining to every one from ages 0 to 100. <BR><BR>The good part is you can escape the snare with a mute button, or because the length and breath of the sock it to you and sell campaigns, you can hustle yourself to the fridge, take a stretch, put out the garbage or tool around the block. Chances are you won’t have missed any part of the program you were watching in the first place.