Does Life Imitate Art? – by Jeff Hirsch

I don’t know about that, but I can tell you this with absolute certainty: That marketing imitates Saturday Night Live.

SNL’s “fake” commercials are prescient. Great exaggerations, lampoons of brand promises that fall short, or simply absurd new product ideas. You’d think that hell would freeze over before these made-up brands got to market as bona fide products. But they do.

The very first episode of the show in 1975 featured an ad spoof for the Triple Trac, three-blade razor, because “You’ll believe anything.” Gillette’s now up to four blades and counting. Then of course, we have the fabulous John Belushi as Decathlon Champion, belly jiggling out over his shorts as he rounds the track to set a world record. The final frames of the spot show him smoking a cigarette, testifying that he owes it all to the breakfast cereal “Little Chocolate Donuts.” Checked the cereal aisle lately? We’ve got Cookie Crisp, Oreo O’s, Reese’s Puffs and S’mores Crunch just to name a few. Not to mention Chocolate Donutz Cereal from General Mills, which was available briefly in the early 1980’s. Childhood obesity? No problem! Cocoa Puffs is now whole grain! In 1981, there was “Trans-Eastern Airlines,” whose theme song was, “It’s like riding in a cattle car with wings.” You are now free to move around the country.

The list goes on. Maybe it’s not that we’ll believe anything. But that we’ll accept anything. I have long predicted that consumers will finally rebel against poor service, non-stop commercial messages, ballparks named after corporations, bad service or just being ignored. I’m still waiting…

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