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The Checkout might just be the best show on Australian television, delivering exceptional advice about the products we buy, the adverts we watch and the laws we forget exist. As someone who grew up in the warm glow of the BBC, Australian broadcasting leaves plenty to be desired – but The Checkout is a diamond in the rough.

Offering consumer advice that’s pertinent to any country with half-decent consumer laws, the team delivers sage advice laced with sharp wit and takes a scathing approach to the companies who are after your money. What’s more, all the best bits are available on YouTube!

Gendered Marketing

It’s no secret that advertisers divide consumers up into smaller groups – like concerned mothers, the elderly and children. Unfortunately for marketing departments, the broad appeal of an advertisement aimed at a male and female audience reduces the sheer volume of products they could probably shift, and so to counter this we have gendered marketing – a promotional device designed to sell more versions of the same thing.

You might think it only applies to toys but you’d be wrong. Many of the seemingly gender-specific products we buy are identical to those being snapped up by our male or female opposites – with style of marketing, packaging and even product size being the key differentiators.

Superfoods

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You’ve probably heard about the latest superfoods, not only are they food, but somehow thanks to marketing departments worldwide they have gained some mystical ability which places them above regular, boring non-superfoods. The superfood fad is a classic example of marketing over science, and in this short segment goji berries, chia seeds and acai berries are all treated with the healthy dose of skepticism they deserve.

Before you next rush out to buy overpriced antioxidant rich superfoods featured on the Oprah show, don’t forget that a plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy diet Get Fooducated About the Snacks, Meals, and Drinks You Buy Get Fooducated About the Snacks, Meals, and Drinks You Buy If you want to get educated about the food you eat, you might start by checking out Fooducate, a website, iOS and Android app that grades the food and beverages we purchase from supermarkets and... Read More are going to be far more beneficial in the long-term.

Online Dating

The online dating world is a minefield of scams, and many suppose that dating sites actually perpetrate some of these scams. This short segment takes a look at a few different types of dating scam, and addresses the estimation that (and really, how can you measure this?) 10% of dating site profiles are fakes out to scam unsuspecting singletons into giving up money. There’s some good advice about not falling for fake images, and a healthy dose of humour, but the message is a serious one: question everything when your emotions come into play.

Serving Size Me

Food manufacturers are a sneaky bunch. It might be unreasonable to expect manufacturers to co-operate on what the correct serving size for their products should be, but what about manufacturers that use different serving sizes for the same products? In a world (that’s hopefully) obsessed with eating healthy, watching fat, sugar and salt intake; manufacturers have wised up and are now using these sorts of metrics to seemingly deceive their customers.

Of course it’s not a massive conspiracy, but a reminder that you can’t rely on everything printed on a packet and that healthy eating doesn’t always involve watching numbers.

HDMI Cables

Our own Dave Parrack once told us all why spending lots of money on HDMI cables is stupid Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable To get the best out of your HD equipment, be it a nice widescreen television, a Blu-ray player, a PS3, or an HD streaming set-top box, you need at least one HDMI cable. Or more... Read More  and he was right – just watch the film above. The point to remember with digital signals, is that you either receive them or you don’t. Unlike analogue technologies, digital signals don’t fail in the same way, so a cheap cable is usually fine for most consumers. The film above puts it better than I do, and it’s definitely worth sharing so that friends and family don’t fall for expensive bolt-on purchases when shopping for electronics Buying A New TV Or PC? Avoid Showroom Tricks That Cost You Money Buying A New TV Or PC? Avoid Showroom Tricks That Cost You Money Over the years I've become more and more resistant to their tactics and approaches, thanks mainly, I think, to the realisation that they haven't been entirely honest with me. Read More .

As A Guilty Mum…

Probably one of the best things The Checkout ever did was a series about being a “guilty mum” – otherwise known as making mockery of the many products aimed at new, concerned or paranoid mothers. Filmed like an advert but slathered in sarcasm, the segment finds the most ridiculous products and advice, and highlights them.

If you don’t know much about babies (and I don’t) it’s illuminating to see how many products are aimed at this market, and how the topics of teething, toilet training and promoting brain development are such big business for profiteers.

Products like knee pads to protect crawling babies and a infant protective safety hats are explored in what is probably my favourite from the guilty mum series; safety (below).

You can watch the entire guilty mum series embedded below, starting with the first episode: teething.

The Rest

There’s plenty more excellent advice available on The Checkout’s YouTube channel, so subscribe and check out the back catalogue. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll probably learn a thing or two. You can also find full episodes of The Checkout as they appeared on TV over on The Chaser Archive’s channel; here’s season one and season two.

Despite its Australian roots, the show is surprisingly relevant wherever you live and serves as a constant reminder to question the advertising and packaging encountered on a daily basis.

Are you a guilty mum? Been duped by the massive health benefits of goji berries? Vent your spleen below.

Image Credit: 14/52 – Value (Matt)

  1. Matthew H
    May 27, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Ah wow! I'm a huge fan of the Chaser boys, but I didn't know about The Checkout. Awesome stuff! Cheers man!

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