www.whyville.net Jun 13, 2003 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Ad Aware

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How many time have you heard it before? "Mom! Can we get this please?" You've probably done it yourself a couple of times, while standing in the grocery store. And of course your mother sighs and says no. But you need this! It's so cool, and everybody else has them! The truth is, your parents are probably right in this case. And I ask you, what is you want and why? The facts are that if you buy this thing that you so desperately need, you'll have given to an advertising company somewhere out there. And I'm here today to try and inform you about what to watch out for the next time you hit the malls.

Marketing schemes are everywhere. If you take a few minutes to go out and look for advertising each day, you'll find enough to make you sick to your stomach. It's in our schools, our video games, on our TVs, plastered all over the cars driving around town, and a good chunk of the population are walking, talking billboards.

Because advertising has been around for so long, marketers know what they're doing. They know what colours, sounds and images make us want that box of cereal or the latest CD. How many times have you bought something, and later regretted it? If you regretted buying it, what made you want it in the first place? I'm hear to help you spot the knots in advertising.

Trick #1: Colour. Walk down an aisle in your grocery store and you'll find tons of brightly coloured products. It's unlikely you'll see a lot of blue, because this colour makes you feel calm and relaxed and therefore you won't feel the urge to spend money. Notice any red, orange or yellow? These colours are what we could call "happy colours". They make us want to buy products. But me and you know better, right? ...right?

Trick #2: Ever seen a celebrity in a commercial? Just because Tiger Woods is on a box of cereal doesn't mean he eats it, or that it has the power to make you an amazing golfer. Ever seen those infomercials where there are celebrities telling you how amazing this new diet pill is? The truth is, these are often celebrities looking for money because they are at low points in their careers. Just because your favourite singer advertises a certain product, doesn't mean they use it, or even like it. (The perfect example of this is Britney Spears and her 'friends' over at Pepsi (TM).)

Trick #3: NEW and IMPROVED! What does it really mean? People like to try new things, and many advertisers know this. It is not uncommon for companies to change one or two ingredients and slap catch phrases on the packages. And products that are "low fat" or "light", aren't always as healthy as you are led to believe. The missing fat and calories are often made up for different areas (such as with sugars).

Trick #4: Perfection. Seen any food commercials lately? Doesn't your mouth water when you see that Whopper or the perfect thanksgiving turkey? But the real thing doesn't look as good, does it? Honestly, though, if you were to place a perfect burger from TV in front of me, I would never eat it. (And I would advise you not to, either.) I've heard different stories of how turkeys are cooked, including a several which involve a blow torch (like you would use for welding, not cooking!), and while I was doing research, I ran across a recipe for ice cream that never melted... but it was also made partly of glue (yuck!).

These are just some tricks of the trade, and there are several others. I highly recommend doing some of your own research to find out what you can do to become a "smart shopper". If you live in Canada, I recommend the show Street Cents, which appears on CBC, Monday afternoons (check your local listings), and if you live outside of Canada check out their website, www.cbc.ca/streetcents, which often offers buying advice, good for people all over the world. I also stumbled a cross a PBS site (#offiste_link( 'http://pbskids.org/dontbuyit/advertisingtricks/' '' )http://pbskids.org/dontbuyit/advertisingtricks/) with lots of activities to help you become ad aware.

And my #1 rule of thumb is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is! Stay Smart!

Keep rolling, rolling, rolling!


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