Advertising the Obvious

Ever notice stupid ads on TV or radio?

Although masked under a rapidly mumbled closing line of “brought to you by the Ad Council…” these ads are really paid for by YOU.

This is the kind of obvious stuff your government wastes their money promoting:

Advertising the Forest

“The Chief of the United States Forest Service says people should celebrate Earth Day by getting out of the house.”

No kidding?!

Did you get a college degree to come up with that wisdom?

…and look at how many people watched this dynamic government-agency-self-promoting video: 2,412 in a nation of 350 million people!

Of course, writing the video, assembling a video crew to drive outside of the Forest Service’s air-conditioned office building in Downtown Washington and trekking all the way to A Real Forest to film the video, and then scheduling a meeting with Chief Tom Tidwell to interview him about all the good works he and his teammates in The Forest Service are doing is really expensive. Then they had to record the interview, go back to a studio and edit the interview for time and pithy wisdom from Chief Tom, and then edit the interview together with footage of The Great Outdoors.

This takes lots of people and lots and lots of tax money. All to tell you something you already know how to do: go outside.

And then there’s the ubiquitous radio advertisement promoting The Forest: a manager assembles his forest-animal-workers in an early-morning-meeting  to impress their human visitors. He talks to a bird to make sure she’s ready to sing; to a river to make sure he’s ready to show off; to a tree which cleverly responds that he’s still not going anywhere; and to a turtle, who is always late for their daily pep talk. It’s a whacky crew, that’s for sure:

While this ad is heard everywhere on radio stations across America in the middle of the night when nobody is awake, the YouTube edition has earned a whopping 555 views with no comments. Betcha that almost all of the views are from employees of the United States Forest Service.

Advertising the Horrors of Radon

Although there is still no evidence anywhere that Radon Gas has ever killed anyone, the federal government spends money promoting the “fact” that it is a major threat to people everywhere. Radon is a natural radioactive vapor which seeps out of the ground in microscopic amounts almost everywhere in the United States. Local governments desperate to find missions to justify their existence, such as the Montgomery County Council in suburban Maryland, pass laws requiring Radon Testing in every house on sale or for rent. They even require each homeowner to install radon-exhaust-pipes from under their basement slab or crawlspace just to make sure nobody ever gets sick from this elusive toxin. But in the 15 years they have required this expensive test and equipment, they have never condemned a house for occupancy because of elevated radon levels. But they get to charge each homeowner a big fee and then pat themselves on the backs for saving lives of people who have never been sick. And thus far, there has never been a single case of this natural gas poisoning anyone or anything, even the squirrels, rabbits and deer which sleep on the ground where this horrid threat is seeping up onto them.

Be that as it may, the US Department of Health and Human Services created a radio ad—and an insipid song—to remind us to be wary of this ever-present and odorless threat to our very existence.

The original threatening ad is here:

The fun starts at 1:04, but the first half of the video is a great historical record of how we’ve been brow-beaten into recycling for over a quarter-century now…

After you watch it, can you believe you didn’t know how poisonous is this nefarious odorless gas called Radon? Have you ever met anyone who was hospitalized for Radon Poisoning? or perhaps, undergoing extensive treatment for Radon Cancer?

Of course not… because like most things the government wastes your money pondering, it is completely made up.

And how about this classic Radon Ad. It’s even more ridiculous:

Although this ad can be heard throughout the middle-of-the-night hours on radio all across America, look at the number of youtube views: 417.  That means that outside of the federal bureaucracy, no one beyond the mothers of the six toddlers in this ad has watched it.

Creating Crises

These government-paid-for-advertisements cover Hunger: “1 out of 5 kids struggles with hunger…”. They also promote Autism Awareness, Bullying, Clean Water, Recycling, Wearing Seatbelts, Healthy Lunches for School Kids, Retirement Savings, ObamaCare, Smoking, Drunk Driving, Healthy Smiles, and even Girl-on-Girl Violence.


These ad campaigns are another reflection of what the federal bureaucracy really thinks of the people who pay all those taxes to them: they think Americans are stupid. Too stupid to know how to wear seatbelts, not laugh at autistic kids, eat healthy meals or how to go to a dentist.

The bureaucrats must think that Americans are really a bunch of illiterate people who just hiked out of the mountains, and never saw a bathroom, a phone, or a car before.

Every one of these advertised topics is on The News all the time, so why do we need government agencies to create ridiculous ads promoting the issue? Because their chief purpose in life is to justify the existence of that agency promoting that issue. And since each federal agency has more money to spend than they know what to do with, they can spend it advertising their main cause! The IRS is a perfect example of this. As detailed in the upcoming book “Bureaucratic Bombs!” the IRS has their own in-house video studio, where they record ads and ‘team building” videos for all those IRS agents.

Why again does the IRS need their own recording studio??

Heck: even the Food & Drug Administration has a ”Center for Tobacco Products”. Their sole purpose is to study the effects of smoking and to create advertising campaigns to tell people not to smoke. Can someone please tell me who in the Western World born after 1950 does not know that smoking is bad for you? Yet the FDA has over a hundred full-time-employees (who each get 2-full-weeks’ vacation, 10 paid federal holidays, 8-paid sick-days and a continuously accruing pension) whose job it is to do just that. Once I asked one of their staff if the bureau’s title meant that they were for or against tobacco…?

Most of the above mentioned topics are ads created “in association with the Ad Council”. Watch a few here…

This ‘council’ turns out to be a group which appears to be funded solely by the Federal government, although research shows that they are VERY good at hiding who pays their bills, how they get their funding, and how they spend their money. But the only time you ever hear their name is  very rapidly at the end of an ad sponsored by the USDA, or the Department of Homeland Security, or the US Treasury… The list of federal sponsors is endless.

But the most ludicrous part of the campaigns is the cost. Businesses which try to advertise on TV or radio know how eye-poppingly expensive it is. That is why almost all the ads you see are from huge companies with incredibly big advertising budgets. Companies know that if you want to advertise your car, your restaurant, or your plumbing company, that you need to advertise when people are watching TV or listening to the radio. Those “prime times” for radio are between 6 and 9 in the morning, and from 4 to 7 in the evening; it’s called “Drive Time”. For TV, those times are from 6 to 8 in the morning and from 6 to 11:30 at night. TV and radio stations are smart enough to charge a company a ton of money to run their advertisement JUST ONCE during those time periods.  The only companies which advertise in the other time slots just don’t have enough money to spend on ads to show off their products during Prime Time.

Interestingly, almost all of the “Ad Council” or “Public Service Announcement” ads occur in the middle of the night, or in those times when there are almost no viewers or listeners.  That way, those Creative teams responsible for advertising recycling, diversity-awareness, healthy-eating, drunk-driving, and going-outside, can report back to their bosses in Washington that yes, their ad campaign ran on 1,200 stations, and they are proud to have gotten the cheapest advertising rates. At that point, they click up a PowerPoint presentation bragging about their tight budgets, the success of their campaign, and justifying the continuing existence of their program.

And look at the end of the “Ad Council” link above. Not to nit-pick, but why is the Federal Bureaucracy concerned with social responsibility? Why not concern themselves with their agency Mission Statement, or–God forbid–their fiduciary responsibility…?

But my favorite Federally-Sponsored-Ad is this one.

The Department of Homeland Security advertises snooping on your neighbor or fellow commuter without calling it Terror Watch because if we call it Terror Watch somebody somewhere might be offended, so we call it the impossible-to-remember and really-hard-to-say “If You See Something Say Something”.

This is classic Federal Bureaucracy: they assemble a team to create an advertising campaign to tell Americans what they already know.

There are suspicious people moving freely around the country, and we need to watch out for them. And then if you see somebody who acts or looks suspicious, you should report that person. But as all things in Washington, they have to be politically correct. They can’t mention Hispanic gangs like MS-13, or terror groups like ISIS or al-Queda, so they have to write an advertisement that is sooo bland that nobody will pay attention to it. But once the ad is written, filmed and recorded and sent out via the Ad Council to TV and radio stations all over the country for broadcast, the team that assembled the ad can say, “Hey, we did OUR part to keep America safe!” And believe me, they are the first ones to say it after an event like the Boston Bombings or the San Bernadino Murders.

The best example of this is what happened in the San Bernadino murders on December 2, 2015. The husband-and-wife-murder-team spent many evenings at their home assembling weapons and explosives to prepare for their attack. Their next-door-neighbor saw a lot of suspicious activity, as she watched “middle eastern men” go to and fro through the night, many nights in a row.

After the murderers killed 14 and maimed another 22, the police interviewed the neighbors in an attempt to connect the dots. This poor neighbor admitted she “had seen something” but didn’t “say something.” When asked why, she said she didn’t want to be accused of being politically incorrect by calling the police on an obviously ethnic couple.

So there ya go!

We have a murder spree which scars a whole town. But at least the Homeland Security Bureaucrats in Washington can go to work the next morning and report that their “If You See Something Say Something” ad ran on 1,200 radio stations at 4:15 in the morning when nobody is listening to the radio, and at 2:07 am all across America on hundreds of local cable stations when no one is watching TV. They also have billboards posted on public buses all over the major metropolitan areas in America.

And when it comes time for a bonus at the end of the fiscal year, those Creative Team Members will all receive bonuses in their paychecks for saying confidently that their Ad Campaign is working. Even though their entire campaign only tells people stuff they already know–the obvious.

–The Beltway Bandit





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