May 23, 2012 / 5:00 am
So who do you trust? Your friends? Family? Some deeply baritoned news anchor? Maybe that friendly kid at the gas station with the disconcertingly large goiter bulging on his neck? It’s a big question really. Daily, we’re called upon to make snap decisions about many different questions that, at their heart, require the placement of trust in entities other than ourselves. And when you acknowledge the monetary pressures of our consumer culture there’s no shortage of hyperactive folks energetically elbowing their way up to the front so that they can detail why they and they alone deserve our instant trust, and the bucks that are assumed to follow.
This is why advertising is such a necessary part of the eternal communication that exists between buyers and sellers. Absent of the time required to form a genuine relationship based in real trust, advertising is utilized to provide a short-hand of sorts, a quick method that distracted boobs like me can use to form enough faith in a company that I will risk spending money with them. And that’s not such a bad way to go. Absent of advertising, I have used some rather curious methods to determine whether or not someone is worthy of my trust.
Once, based on a fairly unique and truly peculiar circumstance, I decided that I could absolutely trust one person over another based on the fact that one guy wore coveralls, had a serious limp and couldn’t pronounce the word “obfuscate” no matter how hard he tried. Now, conversely, at other times, I have found myself withholding trust in one individual over another for wildly different reasons: they had a beard, they were clean shaven, they spoke with a lisp, they talked too loud, they used tissue paper to blow their nose, they got drunk on a weeknight, wore ladies undergarments (men), matched white socks with black boots (women) or happened to own a Subaru (both men + women). It’s an embarrassing list to be sure, as none of these reasons could ever be justifiably valid in determining someone’s actual trustworthiness. Then again, there also exists no real proof that I was ever truly wrong about my clearly insane judgements either. Absent of the time it takes to really get to know someone, trust is always pretty much a crapshoot.
So I had to smile when I caught a new ad running for AAMCO transmissions and brakes. The ad starts with a slightly mournful piano cadence playing as a voiceover intones “You wouldn’t trust just anyone to sit in your cubicle.” As this is said, we watch some nerdy shirt and tie dude take his tongue and absolutely drag it along the entirety of some poor woman’s computer keyboard. As he does this, the poor woman in question stands witnessing, in silent horror, the moist depravity displayed before her. The voice continues – “Or hug your mom” as we watch a fat, hairy guy with no shirt hugging, and very creepily stroking, a most terrified stand-in for mothers everywhere. Next, we see a man facedown on a massage table in a candlelit room as the voiceover declares “Or be your massage therapist” just as some nutjob dressed in nothing more than a wrestler’s jumpsuit leaps from the top of a book shelf, shrieking like a kamikaze as he flies towards the poor sod below. The spot closes on our AAMCO voiceover man reminding us that as a company they’ve been around for 50 years, and as such deserve our trust - which compared to what we’ve just seen is quite literally the understatement of the year.
In reality, the ad kind of says nothing. Just because someone has been around for a long time doesn’t mean they’re any more trustworthy than anyone else. It could mean they just haven’t been caught yet. But in the absence of any compelling evidence, it probably is about the best guarantee we’re going to get these days. AAMCO has been in the transmission business since the mid-sixties so they must be doing something right, right?
When it comes down to baseline things like determining whom to trust it’s always going to be nearly impossible to ever quantify or successfully package how to go about it. Whom we decide to trust, and why or when we do such a thing, is based on so many different – and often situation specific – variants. More than ever, trust really must be acquired the old fashioned way, by earning it. Except for Subaru owners. I will never, ever trust anyone that owns a freakin’ Subaru. Period.
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