Friday, August 10, 2007

"Dial Nine-One-One"

When the national emergency telephone number went into effect, there was a joke that people of a certain nationality never got through because they couldn’t find the “eleven” on what was, at that time, known as “nine eleven.” Well, that was kinda true, but it turns out that people would panic in an emergency and really did look for the “eleven” on the dial. The FCC told broadcasters to say “nine-one-one,” and thus it has remained.

I’m pretty sure it came from the English and/or Irish system of dialing “999,” as those numbers are the first on their dial. Or so I’ve heard. Our system uses “1” as the signal for a long-distance trunk call, so we can’t use our “first on the dial,” and 999 would be too slow on a rotary dial phone.

Yes, you can advertise whiskey and such types of firewater over radio and tv; always could. There just was a gentlemen’s agreement for many years that it was not something which should be broadcast because tv and radio could not be segmented, as magazines could, for age groups. In recent years, these more effective beverages have shown up at the later hours.

Other products were also on the “let’s not go there” list: Preparation H, for one. Tampons, for another. Now, depending on the program and the hour, you will find ads for "get it up" (Viagra) "and use it" (Trojans) products. We already have commercials answering the age-old question about bears crapping in the woods.