Won’t get fooled again

When I was young, my parents got me a subscription to the magazine Zillions: Consumer Reports for Kids.  It was a lot like the adult version — various products were put through tests to see if they lived up to expectations — except all the products were for kids, and some of the testers were kids.  I don’t know why my parents got me this; maybe to hint that in the future I would be making my own Barbie purchases and should try to be better informed about the competition?  Anyway, I remember almost nothing about the toy comparisons — and almost everything about the other main feature of Zillions: exposing the trickery of advertisements.

Most impressive to me were the food ads.  Even a kid knows the picture of a Whopper on a Burger King commercial is nothing like the real thing — but it wasn’t until I read Zillions that I understood why, and I found the deceit mind-blowing.  Fake food? Vaseline? Sandwiches propped up by toothpicks and covered in glue?  Speaking of glue, that’s not milk in those Apple Jacks.  Every time I saw an ad with a “scam” I recognized, I pointed it out to my family members lest they be duped.  This went on for at least a year; surprisingly, my parents did not renew my subscription.

Today, I spend a lot more time complaining about the trickery of online spam and scams than pictures of too-perfect hamburgers.  Almost everyone knows that there is no such thing as a “miracle product;” advertisers have had to turn to other means to get our attention — celebrity endorsements, humor, social media, etc.  I like to think we’re all a little more discerning, even those of us who weren’t raised on Zillions.

Then again, this remains my favorite commercial of all time.  And my running shoes are Nikes.

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