And I’m curious: Who the hell can afford to buy anything right now
And I’m curious: Who the hell can afford to buy anything right now

No more babes or hunks - now fear sells

Time of article published Aug 6, 2020

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By Lindsay Slogrove

Durban - Fear is the new sex.

The advertising world long used sex to sell us stuff. Hunks and babes utterly irrelevant to the product have been inserted in commercials and on items to attract your attention.

The trend has largely waned as social mores changed, but a different strategy seems to be emerging.

A very scientific study, while working from home in front of a TV, has revealed a slurry of ads that prey on Covid-19 fears.

One is a corker. Among the main messages driven in to us to contain the virus is hand hygiene. Medical experts, sport stars, high-profile people plead with us to wash our hands.

The lesson and action are fairly simple: 20 seconds (or sing the Happy Birthday song) while washing with soap and water. It’s not even necessarily to wash with warm or hot water, just a thorough clean.

But this ad, featuring a mom and child, warns that hands cannot tolerate the high temperatures needed to kill all germs. It shows the mom going all hyper motion Superwoman when she sees her child feeding the dog with its spoon and then about to put it back in his/her mouth.

The spoon goes straight in a dishwasher, which is “later” opened emitting great clouds of steam, germs done and dusted.

Really? How have so many of us survived just washing dishes in hot water?

Then there are the immune boosters and even a bed that improves your immune system by giving you a good night’s sleep. Who even sleeps more than a couple of hours at a time nowadays? Maybe those vitamins promising life-long health are the answer.

But then, as fear ran high and a plan to rush out and buy a dishwasher was dashed by the corset-tight budget, there were some distractions.

Two in particular. The first in the Covid-era “who cares” category is the stain remover, asking if you’ve felt the frustration of a beetroot or, shock horror, a grass stain. This product’s adverts have been a pet peeve for years because of how condescending they are to the women they are targeting.

Most women have really, really more pressing concerns than a stain on anything.

The other is a toothpaste ad that demands: “Are you worried about the stains on your teeth?”

No, actually, I’m worried about avoiding getting Covid-19 and dying (high-risk category), keeping working, slashing everything off the budget to pay the bond and other essentials like chronic medication, keeping the dogs healthy, and food. And I don’t show my teeth - I wear a bloody mask.

And I’m more than worried - I’m furious - about the lowlife pond scum tenderpreneurs who steal and siphon money meant to mitigate Covid-19 and help our desperate citizens, and never have to give it back or face real consequences; that the decimation of our economy by looting of the state has limited our ability to keep South Africans healthy, safe and fed.

I’m angry that our response to the pandemic has faltered from science-driven regulations to a mishmash of contradictory, whim-like rules.

And I’m curious: Who the hell can afford to buy anything right now?

Even the bloody TV is in danger, so I can forget the ads anyway.

*Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday

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