Quick. What’s your favorite part of watching the Super Bowl? Chances are that if you are not a football junkie or living in the city of one of the participating teams, you said the commercials. In my house, it is during the commercial breaks that all conversations stop, the volume is turned up and all sets of eyes are directed to the television. And with companies paying up to $4 million for 30 seconds of air time, you hope that other homes around the country are giving as much attention. That’s a lot of money riding on your advertising team’s ability to get the message across. Generally, the ads fall into two categories: funny or compassionate. These types of ads are the ones that are the topic of conversation at the water cooler the next day. Other ads fail miserably and leave us wondering why and how $4 million was spent on what we just watched. On days other than Super Sunday, television commercials in our house usually get muted but there are still a few that stand out, for reasons either good or bad. This past week, two advertisements, one on TV and the other printed, left us both laughing and shaking our heads in disbelief.
First, the funny. The other night, we were winding down the day by watching something on the television. It may have been a playoff game, it could have been the Disney channel, it doesn’t really matter. During a commercial of whatever it was that we were watching, the Charmin Bears made an appearance. The Charmin Bears are a cartoon mom and child bear talking about “cleaning up after themselves” using a better brand of toilet paper. It’s a clever play on a saying that questions a bear’s choice to perform a bodily function in a wooded area (c’mon, I’m not going to print it…this is a family blog). During this particular commercial, the mom bear told her baby bear to “enjoy the go”. Suddenly, out of the blue, Cam busts out laughing. Not a chuckle but a from the gut expression of joviality. I turned my attention to the ad and when the logo “enjoy the go” flashed across the screen, a second round of laughter started. It was infectious and soon we were all laughing. I thought we were laughing at the expression on the baby bear’s face but then Cam revealed the reason that he found it funny. He said, “Obviously they’re not Celiacs”. He wasn’t laughing at the commercial; he was laughing at the absurdity of the slogan for someone with his condition. So many times prior to his diagnosis, “enjoying” was probably never a word that came to his mind during his daily episodes. When subject to a gluten attack, the look on his face is not one that I would describe as “full of fondness”. The ad was funny but, to Cam, not for the reasons that the advertising company wanted it to be. They missed the mark but not nearly as bad as what I came across the next evening.
I was browsing through web sites, looking for gluten free tips, information and whatever I could get my hands on to help with our meal planning for the week. I’m not sure what site I was on when I came across an article, talking about the new “gluten sensitive” menu of a semi-national chain restaurant. I didn’t even have to read one word when my mouth dropped open. The picture with the article was this one.
Really? You are writing an article and advertising a new “gluten sensitive” menu and this is the picture you use? This one? The one with the breadstick?!? Once I overcame my disbelief, I took a closer look. There was a description under the picture that said that the gluten free version of this salad did not come with the bread stick or the ranch dressing or the tortilla strips. This disclaimer was marked with an asterisk and featured in small, italicized font. I honestly could not bring myself to read the rest of the article. It may have sung the praises of this new, “healthier choice” menu but, to me, it lost all credibility with the posting of this picture. I don’t know who’s fault it is. Maybe it was the author of the article thinking that the caption would make everything better. Maybe it was the stock photo provided by the restaurant and a sign of someone not taking the time to use their smart phone to snap a picture of a true gluten free salad. Both are to blame for not understanding the importance of advertising behind the gluten free movement. So many people still believe that gluten free is a fad diet and they are not aware that foods, such as the one pictured, can cause severe reactions to my son and other Celiac patients. Maybe this is the only article that these people will read about gluten sensitivities and the opportunity to promote the lifestyle is lost behind a picture that depicts blatant cross-contamination. As a society, we put way too much trust into what we read, hear and see. People who are under-educated to a cause will make truths out of whatever they are provided. It is our responsibility to make sure that this information that we are promoting is correct. To not do this is detrimental to everything that we are trying to achieve.