There has to be a university study somewhere explaining the scientific method that predicts success for any marketing campaign that reaches straight for the gag reflex when selling a product or service. I don’t know about you but when my gross buzzer goes off I can’t be trusted to think clearly.

Take that water filter ad. It shows a supposedly clear and clean glass of water while broadcasting the stereophonic sound of a toilet flushing as the water in the glass rises and then falls….just….like….a….toilet. Subtle one, guys. But just in case I was dense enough to miss their point they still take the time to tell me that that the water in my tap is the same as that in my toilet. Ooooooo! Please, I’m not an idiot. All the water in my house comes from the same pipe on the street. As a precaution against disease I have requested that my family and friends don’t defecate in my kitchen sink. My hope is that this policy will mean liquids drawn from the kitchen tap should remain reasonably hygienic to drink. That ad doesn’t gross you out so much as it insults your basic intelligence.

There’s also a commercial on the air warning of the dangers of genital herpes. You see this lame guy sitting with a series of surprisingly attractive women before he finally presents a perfume bottle labeled “genital herpes” to his current true love. She is obviously repulsed and shocked while I as the viewer am supposed to now “learn” that I should get tested, or be treated, or whatever to avoid giving the “gift” of genital herpes. Sorry folks, I missed the lesson because I was too fixated on imagining just what the perfume scent of genital herpes might be. I’m guessing it ain’t vanilla mint.

How can anyone even remember what they’re trying to sell? It is near-impossible to shake the horrible images presented in favour of the product. I would say this is a serious flaw inherent in gross out advertising.

Most out there must have seen that hepatitis ad showing the beautiful beaches and sun while simultaneously listing all the ways you can catch hepatitis in its various forms – ice cubes, a scrape, a pineapple, whatever. They are ostensibly trying to sell a pill or shot or something to protect me on the described vacation. All I can think is that I never, ever want to leave my house again, let alone travel to some likely backward and obviously filthy country. The only horror story they left out was an image of a fondue pot supposedly used by Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson during their most downloaded vacation film ever.

How can this kind of ad actually sell things? Do people really buy when they are grossed out? Look at any supermarket flyer and see if they put dog or cat food anywhere near the people food. They don’t, because no matter how good dog food might appear (and I have actually considered trying Beggin’ Strips – they really look kind of tasty) you still cannot forget that it’s often made from the leftovers of whatever the manufacturers are forbidden by law from putting into people food. If grossing out your audience was any kind of professional sales strategy Morgan Spurlock would have replaced Ronald McDonald at least six months ago.

No, ads like this do little more than confirm I am likely to suffer and die from some sort of weirdo, transferable disease. They provide no hope for me whatsoever. I am beginning to think my only chance is to strengthen my immune system. Perhaps my kitchen sink policies need to be reviewed.

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