I don’t often watch TV adverts…they mostly annoy me. If you’re anything like me, you’ll use the same tactic; record a programme and start watching 10 minutes later, so you can whizz through the 20+ minutes of sales pitches.
Tonight though, I was making dinner and before my hands could be washed (chicken soup in case anyone’s interested) and the TV remote retrieved (behind a cushion?), the adverts began and I absorbed all the sales-speak in its yucky, awful multi-coloured glory.
It’s been so long since I watched ad breaks (apart from the ones forced on me by YouTube) that I was momentarily struck dumb by the awful consistent message which seemed to run through them;
You’re not good enough.
Scene; Beautiful red head shakes her glossy mane and is transformed into a blond beauty. Hair colour – shifting to a new shade is a new beginning
Scene; Slightly chubby man slips on a floor and his planned romantic evening is ruined. Accident/injury lawyers – get the justice you deserve.
Scene; Stylish, fabulous manly-man, running, jumping, exercising, doing manly things; Wristwatch company – for the man who’s always ready for the next adventure. (Subtext; If you don’t buy this watch, you’re not really a man)
Scene; Thin, ‘enhanced’ woman pouting at the screen, saying how much her life has changed since ‘getting my boobs done’. Plastic surgery clinic – make yourself amazing.
Wait? Make yourself amazing? An operation can do that? Who knew?
A watch can make the man in my life more manly?
A lawyer can give me justice?
A hair colour can give me a new beginning?
If only it were all true.
I’m not the first to think/write about faulty messaging in advertising, but tonight I was really impacted by what these sales pitches were saying to my unconscious. The messaging is actually the direct and complete opposite to the lovely heart of the Gospel.
The Gospel says (essentially) that stuff has no power. That anything we do, all actions, all good deeds, is pretty much worthless. There is nothing we can do to fix ourselves, change who we are or make ourselves more amazing.
But the good news is that I don’t even have to try.
Justice, new beginnings and even amazingness are all found not on the side of a packet, but in the astonishing gift of Jesus.
It’s there, it’s already done – I don’t need to buy a thing or have an operation (Make yourself amazing still makes me laugh), I just have to accept what’s been done and allow its power to change the bits of me that need to be changed.
When I know that (and truly believe it), advertisements and their life-changing claims just make me laugh. But to be on the safe side, I’ll keep on skipping through them.