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MARTHA SEZ: ‘Instead of accentuating the positive, advertisers point out desirable negatives.’

May 31, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Old people don't want anything made specifically for old people, according to a recent "New Yorker" article by Adam Gopnik.

Calling elders "a market that cannot be marketed to," he cites those help-me-I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up personal emergency response pendants famously advertised on television. They have not sold well in the United States.

A German study found that 83 percent of the time elderly people wearing personal emergency response pendants did not use them even after falling and remaining on the floor for longer than five minutes.

"... Many older people would sooner thrash on the floor in distress than press a button-one that may summon assistance but whose real impact is to admit, I am old," Gopnik wrote.

Oddly enough, just before I read Gopnik's article, I was offered, and quite naturally refused, a free personal emergency response pendant. I was trying to pay a credit card bill over the phone.

"If you are age 65 or older, please press one," the robot at the other end of the line instructed. Obediently, I pressed one and almost immediately a real representative came on and tried to foist this pendant off on me.

It occurred to me that the pendant would look cheap and tacky and would not go with my outfits. Also, I distrust any offer coming from a credit card company: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. And how many times had I ridiculed the advertisement with the poor old lady crying for help?

No, I told the rep, thank you, I am in a hurry. But it's free! She insisted. She sounded young and a little hysterical. How many oldsters had she already had to deal with that morning? You'd think I might have shown her some compassion. Instead I said brusquely, "Look, I'm going to hang up now." (Harkening back to the days when telephones had receivers that could literally be hung up.) I ended the call.

By the same token, even though I am always hunting for my reading glasses, I can't bring myself to wear one of those eyeglass holder necklaces. I may be softening on this, however, since I've noticed that there are some with names like Gorilla Grips and Croakies.

Marketing is tricky. I often notice that products are promoted for what they are not rather than for what they are. Instead of accentuating the positive, advertisers point out desirable negatives.

Peanuts never contained cholesterol, but supermarket signs proclaim peanut butter Cholesterol Free!

When I was growing up my mother sometimes served the family Morton's chicken pot pies. It was a great joke around the dinner table when she announced one evening, "They say new, improved Morton's pot pies have no soggy undercrust, but look-that's because they have no undercrust at all!"

At our house, the slogan "no soggy undercrust" became a shorthand way of saying that something was being deceptively pitched.

No cholesterol! The once vaunted trans fat-a food so useful and inexpensive to produce, a food so odorless and tasteless, so slow to go rancid, a food that is really not a food at all- is implicated in stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

It turns out lard is better for us. We could have been eating butter, eggs and cream all along.

Whatever happened to those horrid little trichinella worms we learned about in junior high school science class? You remember, they form cysts in people's muscles, and are the reason our grannies always overcooked the pork. According to a United States government site, you are at risk for trichinosis if you eat raw or undercooked bear, pork, wild feline (such as a cougar), fox, dog, wolf, horse, seal or walrus.

The aforementioned meats are, however, gluten free, so that's good to know.

Another heartening fact is, unless you are eating Dolly the sheep, or some other cloned animal, which is fairly unlikely at least so far, the meat you eat will be GMO free.

I hardly need to mention that anything produced by my freelance writing business, and also any soap I might happen to produce, are 100 percent sustainably sourced, non GMO and trans-fat free, gluten-free and cruelty-free, pretty much. Also, no soggy undercrust.

How about this for a dating site: Never done hard time, contagion-free, toupee-free. Or a resume for the career of your dreams: No current gang membership, never known to smoke dope in the parking lot during break, not a spy from a rival company. You can go from there.

Have a good week.



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