Each time I see that commercial that starts with "People are smart", I can't help it but have a bunch of mixed feelings (none of them good) that makes me either change the channel or start moving in my seat, the way you move when you are not comfortable.
And I must confess that after some soul searching, I arrived to the conclusion that the ad (among other things) infuriates me to much because of several reasons.
The first one is related to common sense. People as a group are not smart. We *may* be smarter than some other mammals (still to prove) but we are not smart as a group. I will go into further explanations about this point later.
But the second reason that makes me hate that commercial is from the advertising point of view. One thing you teach to aspiring copywriters is that is always better to make feel your target empowered: it tends to be better to say overweight than obese, is better to make them feel that something is to "prevent" bad breath than to say "hey you that you have bad breath...". Under that precept you may think that "people are smart" is a good idea. Well, as any rule, the rule of empowerement has its exceptions, and "people are smart" is one exception.
Why? Because of the generalization. I am smart. Or you are. Or we may agree that we both are. But the moment you generalize, it loses any appeal it may have. Very simple put even the less smart may think about themselves as smarts ones, but "we" as a group we do not tend to think about "we" as a group as a smart group. On the contrary, people go to great lenghts to prove they are "smarter" than their neighbor, sometimes by just buying stupid things (but those things that makes them feel "smarter").
So you may get a point by saying "you, that you are smart, you know that this product is better because this and that" but the moment you say "people are smart" you may get from everybody the opposite reaction, being that the one of "what people?" "me and who else?".
To make things worst, it is still the most raw and basic type of advertising. Almost all advertising works on the premises that you have to convey to your target that buying your product or service is convenient for them, therefore, that they will be smart by buying it. Now, you normally don't want to just say "you that you are smart..." in that simple way. Is too direct and obvious.
So, I am sorry but people are NOT smart. Still I believe that most are smart enough as to hate the ad as much as I do, maybe for same the reasons or maybe just for the reason that they dislike the generalization. "People are smart" is simply a bad idea.
Now, going back to my first point (common sense) pls let me know how "we" as a group can be labeled as smart when a majority (therefore the biggest group) backed Bush and his war on Irak when "we" have access to a lot of information like the video (dated 1994) that you can see below?
"We" as a group we are not smart. We are lazy, we do not want to think, we do not want to go into further detail, we buy what is sold to us. Maybe this opinion is what makes me not a really good "people person" ;)