As the pandemic rages, a series of advertisements promises dubious remedies in the form of lozenges, tonics, ointments, hematopoietics, and antibacterial shields for kisses.
That was in 1918, when the flu broke out and it is estimated that 50 million people were killed, including 675,000 in the United States.
After more than a century, little has changed. Advertisements promoting unproven miracle treatments (including intravenous drips, ozone therapy, and immune-enhancing music) have been targeted at people trying to avoid the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, a company that sells hawker products containing kratom (herbal extract) in California attracted the attention of regulators and health experts and promised to “stop the coronavirus.” The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to the company in May.
These claims are echoes of 1918, when Dr. Pierce’s “Pleasant Pills” advertisement promised that these pills were made from “May apples, aloe vera leaves, and jalapeno leaves” and provided “a deadly attack against the Spanish flu “protection of.
Other anti-influenza products at the time included Cin-u lozenges, Calatab laxatives, Hudson’s Iron and Nux Tonic, anti-kamnia tablets, Pepto-Mangan hematopoietic agents and made with “hypophosphite syrup, cod liver oil extract, and malt Healing agent”, iron, wine and wild cherry bark. “
Another advertisement, Novor’s Lung Supplements, added to people’s fear of the flu by stating that the pandemic’s death toll “more than doubled our total war casualties.” Peruna is a popular drug that later became synonymous with Quebec (quackery), promoting itself by declaring “Nothing is better than this” to help “fight the Spanish flu”.
Jason P. Chambers, an associate professor of advertising at the University of Illinois, said: “Humans have not changed much.” “We want to believe that we will be smarter and be able to detect lies, but over time, advertising remains Its credibility capabilities are becoming more and more complex.”
Daily necessities are classified as health supplies. Horlick’s promotes its malted milk products as “diet during and after the flu epidemic” and is “recognized by doctors everywhere.” NB Long & Son urges customers to “eat some delicious flu”, such as raisins. Mottman Commercial Company said: “One of the best preventive measures to stay away from the’flu’ is to provide yourself with good thermal underwear.”
There are still some contradictions, including the screen fixed on the sterling silver handle, such as a miniature tennis racket, which acts as a shield between the lips of the lover. The advertisement for this product tells potential customers that they can “dear lady friends, and you don’t have to worry about bacteria”. There is also the Branston Violet Ultraviolet Ozone Generator, whose sales promise is to “make your nasal passages, throat and lungs in a perfect state of disinfection”.
Advertising regulations only took off in 1918. The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees unfair or deceptive marketing activities, was established less than three years ago. After the news reporter Samuel Hopkins Adams (Samuel Hopkins Adams) showed that popular drugs are usually made mainly of alcohol, sometimes made of deadly toxins, the company can still claim with minimal evidence They are supported by science.
At the same time, advertising has attracted more and more attention, accounting for 66% of total newspaper revenue in 1920, increasing from 44% in 1880 to the present. Advertising revenue surged from approximately US$30 million to US$850 million, the Journal of Marketing History Research.
Since then, advertising has become a global business worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Manoj Hastak, a professor of marketing at American University and a long-time Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adviser, said that regulators have been trying to keep up with deceptive advertisers, who are usually large Smaller companies can sell quickly before they suddenly disappear.
He said: “I’m not sure if I have a clear feeling that when the next pandemic comes, things will get better.” “The company is just selling the same old fakes in new packaging, and incidents are increasing. Regulations are getting better and better. , But the process is still very slow and the budget is very thin. It’s a bit cumbersome.”
In recent years, the proliferation of digital advertising has provided more space for advertisements on more platforms and enabled them to switch them out within a few seconds. But as printed publications, radio and television and other traditional media tightened advertising agreements, online advertisers began to rely on automatic auctions instead of manual checks.
Readers who find the vulgar advertising examples of 1918 weird and quaint should know that many examples starting in 2020 are equally absurd. These include the marketing of music medical products, which have CDs that play “specially designed frequencies to help strengthen the immune system and weaken the ability to weaken viruses”, and the Eco Air Doctor, a clip-on device that emits chlorine dioxide gas. The makers of both products are among dozens of companies that have received warnings from the FTC to stop making unfounded claims that they can help treat or cure the coronavirus.
As Americans begin to receive coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, authorities worry that misleading advertisements may complicate promotion or make people doubt the treatment. Facebook said it will block ads promoting the sale of the Covid-19 vaccine or speed up access. Twitter and YouTube have banned unconfirmed content about vaccines.
Michael Stich, the chief executive of CourtAvenue, a digital growth agency, said that algorithms aimed at advertising based on existing interests will continue to provide questionable content to people who are willing.
He said: “There is a lack of public address systems on the Internet.” “I worry that because we are now absorbing information, the circles in which we choose to spend time do not have a common benchmark, which is’reality.’