Your jobs are gone. Your money is gone. But America's iconic brands will never leave you! (Until the rest of your money is gone). Advertising is the last optimistic thing around. And it's faking it.

With admirable speed, the advertising industry started running "Times are Hard"-type ads almost immediately after the economy crashed. But the public can only take so much of that before we all curl up in a small, housebound, non-purchasing ball of fear.

So now the ad industry is going "upbeat." A happy consumer is a spending consumer. Are you unemployed, out of hope, out of shape, drinking at noon, and seriously considering a life of crime? At least you have oatmeal!

Television, print, online ( and outdoor ads - along with promotions and events around the country - proclaim that the Quaker oat is a "super grain" that "gives you a little lift, physically and emotionally" and "makes you feel good knowing you're doing something good for yourself."

We're farther down the ladder than we thought. Oatmeal has already become a "treat."

"We did a great deal of research around the globe," said Gail Galuppo, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Western Union [New slogan: "YES!"] in Englewood, Colo., and determined that customers were still "working hard in pursuit of their dreams."

Patently false, but whatever sells. Beware anyone bearing a smile and money orders. [NYT]