In a publication on The Onion, a resource devoted to humor and satire, an article satirizes the various tactics through which many companies market their products to the American public and take advantage of the people’s gullibility. First, the article takes a parodistic approach by imitating the syntax of actual advertisements in order to humorously expose the absurdity of their claims. Next, the article uses scientific and intelligent-sounding diction in order to satirize how the advertisement industry gets many “experts” to hyperbolize a product by having them affirm its originality.
Finally, the article utilizes the tactic of inventing problems where none exist to underscore how creative the advertising industries can get in an effort to sell their product. Through the use of humor, the article\’s purpose is to raise awareness and caution the public about how misleading the advertisement industry can be in order to augment the sales of their products.
The article employs a satirical and funny tone throughout, full of subtle puns and jokes that barely catch the reader’s eye, to highlight how ridiculous the advertisements are in their efforts to persuade, causing the audience, the public, to chuckle at their influencing tactics.
Starting off by using a parody to ridicule the format and syntax of an actual advertisement, the article clearly reveals the absurdity of the claims that many industries make to endorse their products and get people to buy them. Rather than aiming to be something original, the article is intentionally a poor facsimile or other advertisements for underscoring how similar these advertisements are in nature to already-existing promotional tactics, thus having no originality of their own.
Using phrases such as “exciting new MagnaSoles, which stimulate and soothe the wearer’s feet” (ln 2-4) and “‘MagnaSoles is not just a shoe insert’…it’s a total foot-rejuvenation system’” (ln 16-17), the article highlights the commonality in the structure that exists in all advertisements. By following that same format of “not just” and proclaiming that their product is “new,” the article tries to appeal to the consumerist public with the false promise that their product offers them something out of the ordinary.
Similarly, using words such as these are also a way for The Onion to criticize the audience as it directly points out how gullible the public is for continuously falling for these tactics. It is phrases like these that depict the industry’s desire to always one-up other existing products or treatments in the market, and yet use the same old tactics to accomplish that purpose, hoping to get people to buy their products. By using those same tactics, in the form of a parody, to one-up MagnaSoles, the article humorously points out the ridiculousness to the public of the claims that all advertisements make while marketing their products. The article also makes use of diction that one would associate with science, intelligence, and technology in order to point out how the advertising industry gets, what they call “experts,” to exaggerate their product to the point where they finally persuade the public to buy it.
This tactic used by the article, instead of being subtle, is a more glaring way of depicting the way the industry appeals to the consumerist public, by the overrepresentation of their products. The article, for example, mentions “the pseudoscientist who developed the product” (ln 9-10), “the semi-plausible medical technique known as reflexology” (ln 20-21), or that “only MagnaSoles utilize the healing power of crystals to restimulate dead foot cells with vibrational biofeedback” (ln 30-32). At this point, the article is beginning to enter the realm of absurdity through its use of false scientific terms. Words such as “pseudoscientist,” “reflexology,” and “vibrational biofeedback” create a false sense of professionalism and credibility for the public, making them question the authenticity of other advertisements as well in the process.
These imaginary words, though resembling modern words, is the article’s way of criticizing how easily the public falls into the trap of believing the advertisements’ claims. Just thinking that the term “vibrational feedback” is something that is above their comprehension level, they never bother to question its authenticity and take it at its face value. Using that same sort of diction, similarly, the article makes another absurd promise of providing the public with the impossible: raising the dead.
In an ultimate attempt at humor, the article promises “to restimulate dead foot cells” of an individual, which, of course, is impossible. This claim clearly abandons any pretense of this product being authentic and dispels the people’s thoughts of considering even other advertisements with absolute belief. This satirical exaggeration tactic, thus, is a very straightforward warning to people to take everything they hear with a grain of salt and not completely believe everything that these advertisements claim. Though lacking originality in how they appeal to the public, the advertisement industry is quite adept at coming up with creative problems, even if none exists, to present their product to the public.