Giving The Wrong Impression

Okay, I know…there are bigger issues facing the outdoors than what I am discussing today, but sometimes these little pet peeves have a way of gnawing away at the general public’s sensibilities…and in the long run our outdoor sports are tarnished in the minds of those who will never know differently.

Case in point.   This past week I was out in Las Vegas at a trade show for my business and during the course of traveling I was captive on an airlines that played various in-fight movies, etc. on TV.   I mean, when you are on an airplane and a TV screen pops down in front of you…what else is there to do but watch?   Anything to pass the time, right?

Well, in this particular case the airline was promoting a MasterCard credit card that promised sky miles on a frequent flyer program.   Innocent enough, you say.   Yes, but as soon as I seen the fly fisherman standing streamside I just knew something would turn negative…and I wasn’t disappointed in that regard.

The ad went on to say something like, and I am paraphrasing here as I do not remember the specific language…weekend away with your fishing buddies…$150…titanium fishing rod…$250…(then this is where the video portion shows what looks to be a carp landed and laying on the shore with a tear slowly dripping from the eye)…discovering your softer side by returning the fish to water…PRICELESS!!!

Wow!   First of all, this ad really struck me the wrong way because it gives feelings to non-humans that simply doesn’t exist.   Okay, you say…there have been studies that show fish can experience pain…phooey!   The point is nobody has ever seen a fish cry.   Fishermen, yes.   But fish, no.   They don’t have those sort of emotions so why do the creative minds need to confuse people into thinking they have them.

Now admittedly there is nothing wrong with catch and release or showing fishermen as a caring sort.   Agreed, those are positive aspects of the commercial.   But in my mind those elements are far overshadowed when the general public (especially kids) starts thinking that fish of all kinds get emotional at the time they are caught.   What about all the fish that are caught and not released?   Suddenly, the fisherman who doesn’t practice catch and release must be some cruel, heartless bastard…right?

Sure, you might laugh at that notion…but believe it or not there are many folks out there who believe precisely that.   If they had their way fishing would go the same way as trapping and hunting, both activities much further on the frontlines of being shutdown by the antis.   But don’t be fooled, these insidious little commercial showings, like the MasterCard, bit do take their toll.   You’d be surprised what the gullible general public believes…especially when they never get outdoors to see reality with their own eyes.

Maybe I am just wrong for wanting the outdoors portrayed the way it is…and not the cutesy way some ad agency copywriter feels they can deliver a promotional message.   The sad reality is, however, if there was a young kid sitting on the plane a few rows ahead of me that might be swayed away from trying fishing because it makes the fish cry…well then, a terrible injustice is being served.

Believe me, our outdoor future is full of enough challenges in the years to come…it certainly doesn’t need a PR agency promoting a product at the possible expense of our outdoor heritage…no matter how minor the effect may be in this particular instance.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.