It's cold and flu season in New Zealand, and this year it has the added impact of 'swine flu'. Everyone wansts to avoid the dreaded H1N1. Back in 1918 all you had to do was drink Bovril to avoid the flu. But modern advertisers are doing their best to cash in on public paranoia, with more frequent showings of flu-related products. Panadol now comes in 'Flu Strength'. This year flu vaccinations are being advertised by a crazed karate-kicking guy attempting to fend off a green cloud of flu germs. Household cleaners are even getting into the act, with one claiming it kills flu germs on surfaces.
With all these products out there I wonder why anyone is worried about swine flu. The race for a vaccine seems to be unnecessary ... it's all controllable with these products ... advertisers wouldn't lie to us, would they?
My favourite ad of the moment is the "Afternoon Calcium Made Fun" concept. A mother is walking with her children and she thinks to herself in voice-over that while her kids have had their morning and lunchtime calcium how will she get them their afternoon calcium? So she buys them a calcium enhanced frozen treat.
Afternoon Calcium? By this logic shouldn't she be worried they are not getting any midnight calcium, or their 4am magnesium, or their six minutes past six sodium?
"Wake up, Timmy, and drink this milk."
"But Mum, it's the middle of the night."
"Just drink it, Timmy. I'm not having my kids lacking in calcium. I'm a caring mother. Oh, and here's your 2:30am multi-vitamin ... I'll set the alarm so you know when to take it."
You won't catch me falling for advertising like that. I'm off to enjoy a 100% natural 99% fat-free candy (it sounds so healthy) and then I'll have a big bowl of cereal (it must also be healthy as it's "Ironman food and ironmen are fit and strong"). Then maybe a mug of Bovril, just to be safe.