It doesn’t matter what level of education you’ve completed, or if you even completed an education.

It doesn’t matter what your occupation, income, or lifestyle may be. No matter who you are and what you do, they don’t think much of you. They think they can influence, mold, and otherwise twist you around their little fingers, making you think that what they’re selling, you’re dying to buy.

Who are “they?” They’re the marketing guys, those Madmen on Madison Avenue in New York, and for that matter the ones who inhabit the tony offices on the 11th floor of one of those tall buildings that dot the Providence skyline. They graduated with a fancy marketing degree, they pay for research and development, they’ve got all the digital devices that can measure, deliver, and predict ... and they think they’ve got you.

Results are measured in dollars, and that makes or breaks whether a product is successful. Makes sense, that’s just good business, but it’s the getting there that gets my panties in a bundle. I’ve written before in these pages how much I detest that TV spot at the holidays with the Millennial couple who bought “one for you, one for me.” She bought watches, but he bought them both vehicles, and ungrateful, entitled little witch that she is, she claims the truck as her own, throwing herself across the door, leaving the poor schmuck who shelled out the big bucks to settle, saying, “I like red.” Well, the commercial must work because they’ve used it for the last three seasons with only price and model year updates on the screen; but seriously, how many of us out there have ever bought a “one for me, one for you” vehicle as a Christmas bauble?

When I was a kid I remember football great Joe Namath rocked the ad world as well as audiences worldwide when he did a pantyhose commercial. Everyone talked of the New York Jets’ Broadway Joe lounging in a risque pose wearing pantyhose, but how many remember the brand? Turns out it was Beautymist, which you can only find now on the internet if you really want to wear panythose again. People loved the commercial, but when it came to buying the product, they rarely could remember the name.

Fast forward from 1968, now Namath is “relating” to a public that remember him for pantyhose, but couldn’t get their legs far enough apart today to get a pair of pantyhose on. So he’s selling Medicare supplements, telling everyone that “this is free” and “that is free” and even “the phone call is free.” Please. Nothing is free. Don’t believe it. Watch what happens after you get the rest of your $2,000 stimulus payment, school loans are forgiven, etc.

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe buying insurance, be it home, life, health, or auto, is pretty serious stuff, so I don’t want to do business with a company that has an emu with its head in the sand playing volleyball, with a woman in white who every few weeks has a different commercial about a Sunday songfest or a game show about upper hands, or any of the other nonsense that company has put out there. Tell me what you offer! Tell me about rates! Tell me what makes you different, except for Flo and the garbage. Or people singing while they throw the fixings for an ice cream sundae around the kitchen, or a human cell phone, or ... ad nauseam. It appears these companies are poised in head-to-head battle for who can come up with the cutest, silliest, or most entertaining commercial rather than realizing their main purpose is to just sell the product.

Worst of all, a top-rated Providence-area radio station is running a series of silly sounds and Sesame Street character voices for — wait for it — a financial services company! Would you turn over your hard-earned cash to be managed by a company that cannot manage to put out a clear, straightforward ad telling you what they offer?

It all comes down to the pop culture of today, marketing to the 25-49s who must think these ads are humorous. I always thought it was about the bottom line. Then again I’m of the age group that remembers Joe Namath when he didn’t care what he wore or for whom he advertised so long as they paid him.

Maybe nothing much has changed.

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 19 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at or 401-539-7762.

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