The “Dumbification” of America

Why do advertisers often think consumers are idiots? I have worked with writers and creatives for over 20 years and it is always our goal to communicate information in the most direct and respectful way. Does it always work? No, but we certainly try.

This allergy season, Flonase nasal spray launched into retail. I have personally been using Flonase for years. It is a great product and helps me tremendously with my allergies. But seriously, their tagline is enough to make me want to try something else. “Six is greater than one.” Really? My 5th grader learned that in kindergarten and possibly before that when we were doing flashcards. Six is greater than one. Ok, so I get the point that you want to call out the six histamines the nasal spray attacks. I get the chemistry of it and I approve, but please don’t talk down to me.

Here’s another related example. Anoro, a new medicine for COPD states, “The world is filled with air.” Really – I didn’t know that either. I guess I must have missed that class during my MBA.

Have we all become so overworked, over advertised to, and over stimulated that we can only react when we hear the simplest of phrases? Is this where we are heading as a society?

Here are 3 tips to avoid insulting your audience:

Know your target

Before you start crafting copy for any piece of marketing communication, know who your target is. People react differently to different language, words and phrases.

For example, in children’s cereals, you have two target consumers: the adult making and paying for the purchase, and the child begging to have it. You wouldn’t advertise to those two groups using the same marketing concept or language. The language used in advertising should always be appropriate for your given audience.

Be honest

For many years, we all bought certain products hoping the claims were real. Today, there are more certification bodies out there to keep companies honest about what they say and promise. USDA organic, gluten free, and fair trade certifications are all heavily monitored and, therefore, are more trusted by consumers. In fact, they bring comfort and trust to the consumer. We’ve also seen celebrities and influencers endorse certain products. Some have resulted in amazing partnerships while others end up in the news. I live by the phrase, “never say or print something you don’t want to see on the front of the Times” and this is a perfect example of that. An inauthentic endorsement or sponsorship will get you nowhere.

Show a little respect

Though dogs and babies are often the strongest sellers, stereotypes and clichés simply annoy us. We are much more than a stereotype and by marketing to the lowest common denominator, you can alienate more people then you attract. Be respectful of your potential clients and market to their strengths and needs.

I don’t mean to rant on in this blog, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Although I understand the reasoning behind the Flonase and Anoro taglines, I think they cross a very fine line.

Have you come across either of these taglines before? What do you think about the “dumbification” of America through marketing and advertising? I’d love to hear your feedback.