SOMEONE– I DON'T KNOW WHO– PUTS OUT A LIST EVERY YEAR OF THE "MOST TRUSTED PROFESSIONS." IT'S UNCLEAR WHAT PURPOSE IT SERVES, EXCEPT TO KEEP NURSES, THE CLERGY AND OTHER MEDICAL TYPES AT THE TOP OF IT, WHERE THEY CAN SURVEY THE REST OF THE PROFESSIONAL WORLD.
From the shallow end of the professional gene pool comes another annual list: “least trusted professions.” Here is where advertising executives hover at the number three spot, close enough to spoon with car salesmen and politicians, who perennially top the same list of dubious distinction.
Plenty of car salesmen and politicians have hornswoggled their way to becoming the default setting for “least trusted,” but the otherwise noble ad man owes his tarnished image to one shyster in particular who has slimily separated many an “Archie” and “Jughead” reader from her $1.25: the most insufferable of all swindlers – the writer of the Amazing Sea-Monkeys ad.
Is it any wonder the entire advertising profession would be catapulted to the “least trusted” list? In one (absurdly cool and compelling) ad, Transcience Corporation’s weasely copywriter wove a kaleidoscopic web of LIES to create a product pitch that, by all accounts, should serve as an FTC cautionary tale and land Mr. Haney in the clink for a good spell.
Even at the age of six, I was an “early adopter.” In marketing terms, that means “the first fool to throw away her money.” I couldn’t wait to send my tooth fairy proceeds (including shipping and an extra 50¢ super-rush fee, funded by a second front tooth) to 200 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY. Lured in by the humanlike depiction of the Amazing Sea-Monkeys in the ad’s illustration, I was convinced that, within six weeks, I would be the ringmaster of a legion of frolicking Sea-Monkeys who would obey my commands and entertain my houseguests.
And why wouldn’t I think that? The Amazing Sea-Monkeys were trumpeted as a “bowlfull of happiness.” My whole family and our guests would delight at the sight of my Amazing Sea-Monkeys, which were always “clowning around,” according to the ad copy. They were “so eager to please,” the copywriter insisted in bold face type, “they can even be trained.” I couldn’t wait to boss them around.
With the Sea-Monkeys’ aquatic city as the ad’s backdrop, I had all the inspiration I needed to envision the underwater community I would design for my own Sea-Monkeys, most of whom I’d already named weeks before I would add water to get them to hatch in ONE SECOND, a selling point that only pumped up their “amazingness” factor.
Despite the extra 50¢ super-rush fee, it took an eternity for the Amazing Sea-Monkeys to arrive in the mail. Once introduced to their new marine utopia – the fishbowl – my Amazing Sea-Monkeys actually hatched! Maybe because they were so microscopic, I didn’t notice them “swimming, stunting or playing games with each other,” as the ad promised. If they were “full of tricks” or “loved attention,” I couldn’t tell.
By the end of hatching day, it was tragically apparent that I didn’t have a “bowlfull of happiness.” Instead, I had a bowlfull of precisely the kind of organisms one might pay several hundred dollars to filter out of the water. Not one of those organisms showed the slightest inclination to “obey my commands like a pack of friendly trained seals.”
I’d been duped.
A couple of weeks ago, I met a real-life adult who confessed to having purchased not one, but several Amazing Sea Monkey kits for her impressionable children, who have pinned their happiness on the hope that each packet of Sea Monkey eggs will hatch into a friendly family of smiling, tiara-wearing, mischief-causing pets who will delight their guests and “bring smiles, laughter and fun into their home.”
There’s some truth in that particular advertising claim. Somewhere – specifically, at 200 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY – the Amazing Sea-Monkeys are making someone smile and laugh the evil Sea Monkey laugh: mmmwwwwaaaaahahahahaha!