Things I learned from daytime television

I don’t often get the chance to watch daytime television. Not since my days as a slovenly uni bum anyway when that was all I did. Only I had pay TV so day time television meant sport. Today was one of those odd occasions where I found myself watching the Summer repeat bonanza special edition of Mornings with KAK.

While Kerri Anne herself is an Australian institution – who happened to mention this morning that she’d been doing the show for more than 25 years (only it was a repeat from last year so it’s even longer now) – her show still doesn’t seem to have the basics right. Infomercials are like a car crash – you can’t turn away but you know they leave carnage in their wake. If a family member is affected by infomercials it can be a painful process. On a side note – the Danoz direct oven that was being advertised this morning would make a very interesting coffee roaster… but back to the main point of this little tirade. And it will be little. If you have testimonials from happy customers singing the praises of your weightloss miracle cure concoction – do not. And I repeat. Do not. Have them read their testimonial from an autocue using words that are right out of the weasel word manual.

“It enabled me to engage in a vast array of activities I’d never really considered” might sound impressive to you sitting in your ivory tower of corporate promotional speak where you have to address a board of directors on sales results – but coming from a real woman who is claiming to have lost 30kg thanks to your product it sounds like she’s acting, or at the very least not as glowingly enthusiastic as she should be. Personal testimonies are an incredibly powerful way to sell a product. Unless they are riddled with jargon that sounds like it comes straight out of head office.

There’s a lesson here for all of us. Well providing we’re trying to sell something via an infomercial.

Actually – there is a lesson here for any Christian trying to explain the gospel to their friends/neighbours – avoid in house jargon at all costs. Authenticity depends on you sounding real and sincere – people don’t want a cardboard cut out towing the company line. If you’re going to use the power of personal testimony to sell something – make it personal. Don’t “identify a product that will help you overcome a drastic deficiency in your regular masticating schedule” – tell it like it is. In plain language.

Seriously people. Is it that hard to not automatically become a robot in front of a camera.

I did manage to flick over to Business Today or something like that on ABC 2 – where a terrified telephony lobbyist was trying to explain that communications companies will not be affected by the recession in the same way that other companies will – they’re a diversified bunch now.

He delivered a deadpan line of company speak gobbledygook that made little to no sense even to the business minded journalist asking the question – so little that she asked him to clarify – and his idea of clarification was to repeat verbatim what he’d said to the earlier question. An answer so filled with corporate double speak that none of it managed to penetrate my cold addled brain. Oh, and he reckons we should invest in communications companies. After a compelling sales pitch. I think it’s pretty funny that “communications” companies are developing a reputation for their inability to clearly communicate and articulate their business. Mobile phone contracts are a triumph of obfuscation. “Communication company” could well be a latter day oxymoron if all our modern day companies can do is trot out weasel words.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.