Truth in advertising


When I was younger, perhaps twenty years ago I think it may have been, there was a game I wanted.

I played soccer at the time. I even had a monthly magazine subscription to one of the national magazines for the sport, though if you ask me the name of it now, I couldn’t tell you. What I do recall is Kyle Rote Jr., a player in the North American Soccer League, was prominently noted throughout each issue.

Every month, on the inside cover, was an advertisement for a soccer game. It was hailed as being all the rage in Europe. It showed actual figures, on a replica field, that you could move and play the game with.

It looked brilliant. Marvelous. Fun.

And I wanted it.

But I couldn’t find it at the time. A tabletop soccer game? In the United States? Not the most in demand of items for stores.

Perhaps four or five years later, while walking around a local mall, I was riding an escalator in a store that was preparing to close up shop for good. While descending between levels and gazing off in different directions, I spotted something.

On a table with other clearance items was a soccer game. Could it be? Could it possibly be?

It was.

And I bought it without hesitation.

And… it was horrible.

The ball didn’t move smoothly. It did however, move much faster than you could move your hands (or any of your players). In short… one simulated kick, and the ball flew out of bounds. Creating an ongoing gameplay of kick, out of bounds… kick, out of bounds… kick, out of bounds. And not just out of bounds, but almost always out of bounds off the edge of the table across the room and under something.

I suppose investing a great amount of time would have brought about some skill improvement. A bit of touch and softening of actions on the pieces to adjust how the ball responded. Maybe get better than constantly picking the ball up off the floor. But I can still vividly remember thinking that it wouldn’t help. Consider…

It was supposed to be a two-player game. None of the figures moved on their own. That means twenty-two figures on the field, and even the most talented of participants couldn’t move all eleven of their pieces while at the same time playing the ball.

Not a lot of scoring. Not a lot of fun. LOTS of frustration.

I learned a valuable lesson from that purchase, just one aspect of buyer beware. Products, regardless of how closely they resemble the picture, are not always the same in use at home. I still feel a phantom pain in my wallet today thinking back on it.

That lesson has served me well over time. Skepticism will do that for you in the world of advertising. We all have had experiences in seeing something in person… opening boxes… and finding the reality far less than the promise.

Often times, as I am watching television, or flipping through a magazine, I wonder… How many people out there are looking at these products the way I used to look at a soccer game? And how many of them finally buy these products, only to feel the way I felt?

(Probably more than would ever admit it.)

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In the early days of the In My Backpack web site, I was trying several different ways to present material.

My journal entries were referred to as “A Momentary Lapse…” for a period of time, which eventually transitioned to “Are you chewing gum?” for a bit. Eventually, after a few restarts, modifications, and relaunches, the Now Playing area took over.

One of occasional segments—appearing perhaps ten times a year or so—was called Random Thoughts, which I described as…

Too long for “A Momentary Lapse…”… Not enough for a full article… Need to get them off my “ideas to work on” list…

This essay was originally created and presented as a Random Thoughts entry. I’m bringing it back as a From the Backpack offering because I’m curious about the content and the effort. But, worth noting, it may still seem a bit incomplete, needing more development, and may or may not have gone through some additional edits and re-writes beyond my usual finds when searching the archives.


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