Wednesday, January 26, 2011

814 Daytime Advertising

814 Daytime Advertising

Lately there’s been a blizzard of lawyer ads on daytime TV. “If you’ve been hurt in an accident...” “If you have mesotheliosa …” “If Social Security won’t give you your disability payments...” “If you took the drug (insert name) and had evil things happen as a result...” There must be an awful lot of potential clients out there watching “Maury,” “Springer” and similar programs.

Most of the ads show actors in suits sitting at desks with a backdrop that looks like a wall full of law books. Some of them show actual lawyers. One guy is a dead ringer for Snidley Whiplash, moustache and all. Appropriate. A favorite is tax lawyer Roni Deutsch, who sounds like fingers on a blackboard and doesn’t know what to do with her hands on camera.

All these ads have at least one thing in common besides the slimy spokes-people: “We don’t charge a fee unless you get paid.” Nice. Their fees are “contingencies.” But don’t go thinking you don’t have to pay if they lose your case. There are attorney expenses. They charge for that, most of them. And if they lose the case, you have to wonder what those expenses look like. Of course they disclose this little catch, maybe even in the “free phone call and free consultation,” but not in the commercial.

Other daytime ads hawk for-profit vocational schools, debt consolidation and lump sum payments for annuities and structured settlements.

The best of these is from an outfit called J.G. Wentworth. Truly wonderful. Obviously they buy your settlement or lend you money. But at what cost?

All of which points to the audience being a bunch of people who can’t or won’t work, don’t have jobs or have dead end jobs or people with money that dribbles in too slowly.

What else to do at that hour if you can’t work but sit around and watch the tube? Povich, Springer, The People’s Court, Judge This or Judge That.

As the afternoon wears on, we get into really nasty stuff: Here’s Montel Williams, pitching what amount to pay day loans. No cash? We’ll lend you up to a grand --plunk it right into your checking account-- if you have at least 800 in monthly income. If you make $9600 a year, you have no business going into this kind of debt at more than ten percent apr in many cases.

Here’s Hulk Hogan pitching Rent-a-Center. Rent to buy prices are generally way higher than for the same item at a regular store. If you want something for a short time, maybe it’s worth your while to rent. Otherwise, you’ll be paying more than the item costs at Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart or any similar place.

How about recording your pet programs and watching them on tape or DVR later, when you can skip through the commercials?


Shrapnel:

--What’s in that Taco Bell meat taco? Reports say the “meat” is some combination of chemicals that is only 36 percent beef, and that 40 percent is the FDA minimum. In defending a class action suit in Alabama, the fast food chain denies its ads are misleading.

--They’ve rejuggled the lineup since separating from Olbermann at MSNBC, so we’ve finally gotten to see the “Ed Show” after hearing it on radio where it was mostly a promotion for the television version. On radio, he sounds like a blowhard with an occasional good idea. On television, he LOOKS and sounds like a blowhard with an occasional good idea. And speaking of their lineup: Lawrence O’Donnell puts some of us to sleep even those of us who generally agree with him.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments to wesrichards@gmail.com please.
© WJR 2011

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