August 12, 2013

Disclaimer: your results may vary

The breathtaking action is then followed by a line of microscopic type at the end that states, “Stunt driver on closed course. Do not attempt.” Hey, I’m going to fight the urge!

The breathtaking action is then followed by a line of microscopic type at the end that states, “Stunt driver on closed course. Do not attempt.” Hey, I’m going to fight the urge!

Every weight-loss TV ad worth its salt has a “results not typical” disclaimer at the end of it. You know what I mean. You see a newly svelte man or woman standing inside a pair of giant jeans that once housed their enormous frames — with the disclaimer, “Results not typical.” If these “results” aren’t typical, why in the world are they showing them? Oh yeah, it’s advertising.

While I’m not an attorney by trade, my copywriting background has made me proficient at crafting disclaimer copy. The disclaimer has been described as those few seconds of legalese at the end of an ad designed to take all the fun and fantasy out of what you’ve just witnessed. (Actually, that was my description. See? I told you I was a writer!)

Some of my favorite TV disclaimers: You’ve seen the fast-paced spot that feature 57 seconds of an exotic sports car wildly careening down a snowy mountainside or racing on two wheels around the rim of an active volcano. Let’s call it glorifying some form of death-cheating behavior. The breathtaking action is then followed by a line of microscopic type at the end that states, “Stunt driver on closed course. Do not attempt.” Hey, I’m going to fight the urge!

Or what about the standard-issue casino spot featuring an excited group of toned and tanned hipsters gathered around a slot machine that just coughed up a ton of money. It’s the standard plotline. Jubilant screams, flashing lights, confetti flurries and champagne toasts capped off with the usual: Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. And I think, “What problem? We just hit for a gazillion bucks!”

And then there’s the crowd of even more tanned and toned party people cavorting on South Beach while toasting the setting sun with a round of icy cold, mass-produced brewskis. And just when things couldn’t get any hotter (or drunker), the spot ends with “Please drink responsibly.” What, like these people?

Amazing. I just witnessed several minutes of reckless driving, gambling and drinking —counterbalanced with ten total seconds of clearheaded parental advice. Sounds about right. Makes me proud to be a disclaimer writer.

ab+c is not responsible for the views expressed above.

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