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Ads, ads, ads -- who really listens to them?

Advertising is a strange business. Just look at enough ads and you'll be able to see why. The scariest part of advertising is the percentage of it which we manage to block out without even thinking. Here in Cambridge, where we see vast amounts every day, we are hardened enough to ignore most of the advertising we see. The standard wisdom is that a consumer has to see a particular ad seven times before the message of the ad will even begin to sink in.

It's perfectly common to see an ad and accept the words without thinking about them. My favorite example of this is Fahrvergn"ugen, which Volkswagen is attempting to turn into a common American phrase. Just one question -- WHAT THE HELL IS IT? I mean, the only definition we're given is that Fahrvergn"ugen is "what makes a car a Volkswagen." Well, I can think of a myriad of things which make a car a Volkswagen: Minimal Interior Space, Goofy Exterior Looks, Peculiar Name Derived From a Small Insect or Mammal, etc. I just want to know which of these is Fahrvergn"ugen. German House, can you help? (Are you there, Monty?)

The Mars company is great at coming up with drivel which only makes sense if you hear it at breakneck speed. Mars produces candy bars which contain "Creamy Nougat." When we hear this in their advertisements, we nod as if to say, "Ah, good, Creamy Nougat." Can anyone out there explain what exactly is in Creamy Nougat? No, we don't ask, we just accept it as if it were a happy, well known member of one of the four basic food groups. It lies in wait, seeping out from between the chocolate and caramel. People around the world, fearing that they're the lone souls who don't know what Creamy Nougat is, eat it in silence, afraid to be exposed as ignorant.

An informal survey conducted around the bustling Tech newsroom revealed that fully 100 percent of those surveyed have indeed eaten a Milky Way and over 70 percent are aware that Creamy Nougat is a prime ingredient of Milky Way bars. Not one of those surveyed could explain just what Creamy Nougat is. (I rejected some interesting concepts -- I can tell you with reasonable confidence that it is neither an industrial adhesive nor is it superball material.) If anyone in Course 20 is left on campus, can you enlighten me as to the contents of Creamy Nougat?

Mars also penned the classic, "A Milky Way a day helps you work, rest and play." Work and play, well, OK, I'll buy that. Occasionally a candy bar might help you get through a day at work, perhaps even stave off your hunger for the big game. They manage to sneak "rest" in there, however. Makes sense to me. How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm having trouble sleeping. Perhaps a Milky Way would do it. There's nothing like sugar, cocoa, caramel, caffeine and Creamy Nougat to help me get a good night's rest."

We accept these lines only because they're thrown at us quickly, without warning, and then replaced instantly by the next commercial or advertisement. If we stop and think, most of them are ludicrous. I have never had either a good time or a great taste at McDonald's, nor have I ever enjoyed "Food, Folks, and Fun" under the Golden Arches.

And anyone who drinks Diet Coke just for the taste of it must also pour sulfuric acid on their genitals just for the feel of it. One drinks Diet Coke only to avoid calories. No one can convince me that they honestly enjoy the fresh-puke flavor of Aspartame more than sugar.

Anyone who has owned a Ford will probably tell you that Quality actually ranks in the low 300s, not Job One. . . . Given the choice of clucking like a chicken for a national television audience or paying a couple of bucks to earn a Klondike Bar, I'd pay the money or skip the ice cream. . . . Whether or not the person sitting next to me thinks Miller Lite is less filling or tastes great wouldn't be enough for me to start a conversation, let alone a fight. . . . Bo Jackson would be a great athlete if he competed barefoot. Bill Jackson would be a weak athlete even if he were wearing the most expensive Nikes in the world.

Nine times out of ten, there isn't something good on cable. . . . Of course this is not my father's Oldsmobile! My father's Oldsmobile fell apart years ago. . . . Don't hate you because you're beautiful?

I'll hate you for any damn reason I please. . . . If four out of five dentists think sugarless gum is better than sugared gum, that fifth dentist must need the business created by tooth decay. . . . Good to the last drop sounds true enough until you're the poor sucker stuck with that last murky drop. . . . Make a run for the border to Taco Bell? I usually do the running after I've eaten at Taco Bell.

What scares me is that most of these slogans went right by me the first time around, and that only a conscious effort to read or listen to them reveals how ludicrous they really are. At any rate, next time you see a really stupid advertisement, just hoist a Creamy Nougat-filled bar high into the air and sing praise to American free enterprise. Everything you always wanted in a society . . . and less.


Bill Jackson, a sophomore, is no longer a freshman.