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Today’s offensive ads aren't full of sex, but rather disingenuous schmaltz


“That’s a nice tan we’re getting, ain’t it mate?” “Aye, no ozone makes it easier at night.” (Photo: Coca-Cola)

“That’s a nice tan we’re getting, ain’t it mate?” “Aye, no ozone makes it easier at night.” (Photo: Coca-Cola)

Is it me or are commercials getting more offensive? Not in terms of sexuality or bad language—that stuff is old hat—but in their increasingly insipid attempts to tug at our heartstrings?

Two commercials, currently airing before movies at the theatres, come to mind. (I haven’t watched a TV ad since PVRs were invented, so I’m forced to sit through them at the movies since our ad-revenue-addicted theatre chains refuse to institute reserved seating like the rest of the civilized world.)

The first offender is Unilever Canada, which has put together perhaps the most offensive ad I’ve ever seen. The commercial starts with the message stating that “too many kids lose their mothers to heart disease and stroke,” followed by a number of children reading genuinely sweet love letters to their moms. The mothers look and, in some cases, weep.

It’d be a particularly good ad if it were for heart disease and stroke research, but alas, it’s for margarine.

Check it out:

Next up is Coca-Cola’s ongoing save-the-polar-bears campaign. The latest ad, which I couldn’t find online, is more of the same that the soda pop maker has been regurgitating for the past few winters. Apparently, Coke donates zillions to recycling efforts, which supposedly helps stave off the erosion of the bears’ arctic habitat.

Coke is indeed spending tons on the effort, as evidenced by this Ridley Scott-produced short animated film released last month. Naturally, it stars those lovable polar bears. Scott doesn’t come cheap, and he probably didn’t accept Coca-Cola as a form of payment:

If only both ads weren’t so incredibly disingenuous. For all of the claims that margarine is healthier than butter, the science is still way out on that one. For one thing, margarine is high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which has been linked “to an increased risk for heart disease and may contribute to cancer, asthma, osteoporosis, inflammation, depression and other ailments.” That’s right kids—if you love mom, you may actually want to write her a letter telling her to cut back on the margarine.

Those environment-loving folks at Coca-Cola, meanwhile, are suing Australia’s Northern Territory government over its plan to implement a cash refund system for returning used cans and bottles. The company, along with other soft drink makers, believes the legislation would act as a tax that will harm sales. This, in a country that has a huge hole in its ozone layer. Then again, what does Coke care? There aren’t any polar bears in Australia.

Could we just get back to more honest and less offensive commercials? Whatever happened to using sex to sell products?