False metrics are everywhere in our media. There’s a TV commercial from QBE insurance that asks,
“What's the chance of this young woman getting a great deal on car insurance? Maybe five per cent? Ten per cent? Actually it’s one-hundred per cent, because we know she’s a safe driver.”
Firstly, the advertiser is seriously asking the audience to have a stab at quantifying an answer even though a) we have no idea of who this girl is, what her skills are like, or what her claim history is, and b) we can't possibly know how QBE goes about its assessment of insurance applications. To then offer us options of “five” or “ten” per cent, only to then chastise us for being mistaken, and then saying the correct answer is one-hundred per cent, is just plain folly.
One-hundred? Based on the fact that she’s willing to install a little GPS boxy thing? What if she’s a drunk, or likes pills, or is blind in one eye? Based on a few seconds of watching this girl and her dog in a car I wouldn’t be willing to offer up a guess on the probability of her qualifying for insurance cover. I bet QBE wouldn’t be either.
A comms person would rebut my critique by telling me that I don’t understand marketing, that it’s the message that’s important – and the cute animation and the friendliness of the voiceover guy – and that the details play second fiddle and in any case won’t stand in the way of my next marketing award.
To them I say bollocks. Is that the best you can do? Ooh, shiny.
I fear that as a consumer society we’re all getting dumber, and the primary cause is declining standards in the media.
But at least 3D animation is getting better.
Serious stories about communication
told in a silly voice.
I dig a little deeper than most comms folk. From science at university, to a cold-and-wet career as a commercial diver, to working underground, and for the past 13 years as a communicator-at-large, I've had my fair share of weird experiences in all sorts of situations. It's given me a fair-to-middling grounding in all things explanatory.