Ad-nauseum – the science of lying

And I believe him

Advertising is a necessary evil to let everyone know that your product exists and they should buy it.  But when you have a choice, how do you know which one to choose?  Let science help you decide!

You can always rely on science to be impartial, objective and above all else, true.  I am a scientist at heart and believe in the process that provides answers regardless if they’re the ones you want.  People know that when a statement is preceded with “Scientists have found”, then it is important stuff with labcoats and white rooms and clever graphs and scientists holding test tubes up to the light whilst looking pensive and stuff.  Advertisers are clever bastards too and will prey on this clause in public consciousness and use science to help convince you that their wares come out top after their own “scientific experiments”, which most of time is the purest quality bullshit.

The latest travesty of disappointment comes courtesy of Lenor fabric softener and their new “Pure Care” for sensitive skin, boasting the softest softness from your laundry.  The impression I get from the advert is that their product is the ultimate in softness, even clouds feel like a badger’s arse in comparison.  “But how can we prove this to the consumers?!” is the cry of advertising agencies.  “Let’s use the guise of science to bring them round to our way of thinking.”  So they created a test to demonstrate just *how* soft it is – the “Peach Test”.

Lenor Pure Care fabric softener

****ing hell!  I’ve been keeping my peaches in a regular towel all this time, but you’re telling me I can keep them rolling around for 3 seconds longer than before?  That is unbelievable.  They have “proven” that their product makes a towel so much softer than before, that you can continue rubbing it with a peach and the skin will not peel off.  This is all sorts of science misuse.

Admittedly, they do have to be a bit creative as there is no standardised testing for softness.  As an engineer, we’re more concerned with hardness and there are plenty of ways to test that depending on if you’re in the Vickers, Rockwell or Brinell school of non-destructive testing.  In general, a specially shaped indenter makes a dent in the material with a known force, the size of the dent is measured and the hardness calculated.  Pretty simple, not very interesting.

The important point is that all factors are measurable and recorded, you can repeat the experiment over and over and get the same result.  Consistency.  Fruit on the other hand is far from consistent.  How many times have you had a bad apple, a sub-par orange or disappointing pear?  Just because you had a good melon that one time is no guarantee the next one won’t taste like evil in a ball.  And if you can’t trust a peach, well, what is the world coming to?  How can you ensure that both the peaches used were identical?  Who’s to say that the peach which remained unscuffed wasn’t from the tougher neighbourhood, having to grow up hardier to survive against the assault of unsoftened towels in the wilderness?  And let’s not forget the staples of scientific rigour that require experiments to be repeated several times for consistency.  All in all, you would need a pallet of homogenous peaches to be subjected to much rubbing for even a basic set of results and a nice graph of data points.

And why use a peach in the first place?  Was a previous diabolical experiment conducted that concluded peaches to be analogous to sensitive human skin?  What else was violated for marketing purposes?  Alas, Lenor are not the first to pit fruit against flesh.  Aquafresh are old hat at this game:

Aquafresh Flex toothbrush –  Tomato test

Yep, your gums and a tomato are anatomically similar, so their advert would have you believe.  And if our toothbrushes can leave a tomato unmolested, then your gums are in safe company.  Great Scot of Antarctica, we should not be this gullible, it’s chuffing embarrassing that advertising agencies think so little of us.  Instead, advertising agencies should be making more like this, illustrating the amusement power of adverts.  Dogs are like servants, honest.

Thinkbox – Every Home Needs A Harvey

– C

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One Response to “Ad-nauseum – the science of lying”

  1. Man, I love that advert.

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