Plastic advertising?

Why does the plastics industry advertise?

I just saw a television commercial (watch it here), demonstrating some of the benefits of plastics. The description of the commercial, titled "Memories," is as follows:

Today, medical research employs plastic technology to reach for new and even greater levels of medical treatment. As the spot recounts the memories of a cancer patient, she is undergoing surgery and receiving an amazing plastic disk that helps the medicine target a brain tumor. This disk contains a chemotherapy medicine and slowly dissolves to release the treatment over a few weeks. The disk delivers the medication to the site of the tumor, while helping to spare the brain? and the patient?s memories.

Why bother telling us this? Why would the American Plastics Council spend money on a commercial unless they expect to get some benefit by influencing the viewer's actions?

I can understand why other industries would advertise generic products. The beef industry, for example, is known for the "Beef: it's what's for dinner" campaign. The dairy industry has "Got Milk?" and "Ahh, the power of Cheese." Cattle ranchers and dairy farmers could not afford advertising spots on network television if they acted as individuals, but by joining together and pooling their resources, they are able to increase consumer demand for their product overall, even though no individual producer benefits relative to its industry competitors.

But the plastics industry doesn't appear to have the same rationale. Consumers don't demand plastic as a generic good in the same way they demand meat, milk, or cheese. Rather, consumers demand the final products in which plastics are used as an input. Further, the specific use of plastics in this case -- as a method for gradually releasing medicine into the body over time -- doesn't seem like it would appeal to consumers even as an input for a final product. Unlike advertising for other medical products, where we might expect consumers with the indicated symptoms asking their doctors about a particular drug, few consumers with brain tumors will be influenced by this commercial to ask their doctors about plastic disks.

One possible explanation might be that the industry doesn't advertise in order to increase consumer preferences above what they would otherwise be, but rather to dispel fears about the environmental impact of their product, achieving an increase in demand in any case. This explanation is supported by the industry website itself, which states:

The American Plastics Council (APC) is a major trade association for the United States plastics industry working to ensure that plastics are recognized as a preferred material by actively demonstrating they are a responsible choice in a more environmentally conscious world.

To accomplish our mission we demonstrate the benefits of plastic products and the contributions of the plastics industry to the society it serves. We also demonstrate that plastics are an efficient use of natural resources and that plastics and the industry are part of the solution to the public's environmental performance expectations.

I still find this explanation lacking. If the purpose is to cater to environmentally conscious consumers, how does this commercial accomplish that goal? Even if environmentalists concede that plastics are useful for some medical purposes, that doesn't have any bearing on whether they should be used in consumer goods.

What am I missing?

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They advertise to innoculate

They advertise to innoculate the voting public from anti-plastics campaigns by virulent and/or luddite environmentalists who say that all petroleum products are evil.

If they don't, then the enviro message is the only one out there, and its thus that much easier to get support for anti-plastics regulations and laws.

Thus, they protect themselves by raising awareness of the good things made possible in life by plastics.

In a libertarian/minarchist state, they'd probably not advertise to the public, for they'd have no need of protecting against state seizure of their property and/or injunctions against their doing business.

That is to say, even though

That is to say, even though you find it lacking, that's really all there is to it. It is strictly a campaign to innoculate the body politic from environmental campaigns vs. plastic- a meme war.

I think the reason that

I think the reason that although the advertising is more specific, the aim is to hit the general public at a much baser level. The commercial is trying to create an overall positive image of plastics technology to counter the environmentalists. They are trying to make the customer think, "Hey, look at all these neat uses for plastics - medicine, cheaper products, etc; this plastics stuff is pretty cool"...

...rather than, "Hey, look at this neat medical treatment; I am going to ask my doctor about that particular medical treatment."

On a related note, I could never figure out why Applied Materials decided to do TV commercials a couple of years ago. They are a semiconductor capital equipment company which sells equipment to semiconductor companies, and it puzzled me why they wanted to reach out to Joe Public. All the semiconductor companies already knew who they are since they are the biggest semiconductor capital equipment company in the world. So why advertise on TV?

I considered that

I considered that possibility, but I'm not aware of any such anti-plastics campaign, at least one that is popular enough to make it on the mainstream radar. (I am familiar with a weak, cultural norm campaign against consumption of plastics when there are reasonable alternatives.)

Are there really people calling for anti-plastics regulation, and do these people really pose such a large P.R. threat to warrant an expensive advertising campaign? I'm not denying that this isn't possible; I'm just not aware of one.

The anti plastics campaign

The anti plastics campaign has been going on for decades- it probably hit its peak around the time of the first resurrection of Earth Day (1990? '91?), with the usual luddite garbage attached. There were lots of "save the seas" campaigns against plastics because of plastic can rings, etc- and the air pollution types against plastic because of toxic fumes, the anti-garbage types because plastics don't degrade (I thought that was a feature, not a bug), etc. The continual campaign against throwaway and disposable anything is a campaign against plastics. SO I definitely see the industry's concern and POV when deciding to come up with the counter-meme advertisements.

South Africa has recently

South Africa has recently introduced some legislation against plastic bags. Here is an article on a desire to expand on the legislation with some links to reaction to the earlier ban.

I have a friend that has a

I have a friend that has a tumor in his brain, and I saw the same television spot as mentioned here. I was just wondering, what is the name of the disks and what is the proceedure called?