Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Guest Blogger: Basilio Amaro

I first met Basilio Amaro and his lovely wife Janet back in 1993 when my then wife and I along with my son Charlie went down to California to visit with friends Susan and Jeff. Susan worked with Janet, we went to a party at Baiz and Janet's house, Baiz put on XTC's English Settlement CD, I recognised him as a kindred spirit and we *sniff* bonded.

Besides being a swell guy, Basilio is a talented comic book artist/writer/creator (I'm actually not sure about the terminology involved in comic books and I do know that the guys that create comics get pretty tetchy if you don't refer to what it is that they do correctly, whether it be pencils, inks, colors, etc., but I DO know that Basilio does the lot, so...) and you can find examples of his work by just searching for 'Basilio Amaro comics' on Google. He's a guy with a wicked sense of humour, but this entry sees Basilio just a little bit ticked off with a certain commercial...

The worst ads on the air in California? The horrible efforts from Tobacco Free California. You may have seen them. The toddler trying on Daddy's shoes, the "home from deployment" surprise, happy kids… Then the somber type telling you that moments like this aren't going to happen because 1 out of 5 Americans are being still killed by tobacco. 

I can't stand ads that play with statistics and language while simultaneously tugging at heart strings to sentimentalize the loss of joy. It's just not a good campaign when folks look at an anti-smoking ad and think "That ad sucks because it makes me sadder than lung cancer would, and now I need a smoke to lift my spirits and get over the experience."

Beyond the soul-sucking effort at depressing the viewer, here's the problem with the content. They don't actually reference the nationwide number of smoking deaths and it's also a state specific ad, in a state where the tobacco death rate in 2012 was 36,600. 

When they say tobacco is "still killing" 1 out of 5 Americans you have to pay particular attention to the way the language is used. Because they don't say died, they don't say will die.

In CA we have a population of 38 million and if 1 out of 5 of us died each year - we'd certainly take notice of 7.6 million nicotine-stained, tax paying faces dropping dead and going to that big Lucky Strike carton in the sky. 

In reality - instead of the terrifying 20% that math-impaired folks sort of arrive at when the numbers come up across the screen - the yearly death rate for California from tobacco stands about .096 %.

Still, a horrifying number when you realize that one year worth of tobacco deaths in CA would wipe out the entire city of Monrovia... But the ads imply that the entire populations of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose, plus thousands more are going to die from tobacco and soon. If I do the math where tobacco companies kill off a fifth of California's population, at the rate of 36,600 a year it should take about 207.5 years to get the job done. I'm going to guess that natural causes will take 99.5% of the entire population in about half that time.

I was trying to think what would make the ads worse, and the only thing I could come up with is if they used the same whimpery voice over artist that did the introduction for the old series Quantum Leap.


Never mind the health benefits, I hope folks quit smoking just so California stops using tax payer money to create ads that are so bad that they encourage marketing people to drink.

And here, in case you aren't from California, is what Baiz is talking about...

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