Title text: Asbestos is bad; definitely get the one on the right. Wait -- this one over here has no swine flu! Now I can't decide.
Asbestos is a fibrous material most commonly used for its heat-resistant properties. It was commonly used in housing insulation until its astonishingly destructive effects on human lungs were known. The use of asbestos in housing is now banned, but it is still quite common in laboratory hot pads, as well as in concrete industrial buildings where the risk of it getting into the air is minimal.
The comic depicts a common advertising trick taken to an absurd extreme; quite clearly all of the cereal products depicted are asbestos-free, but most have opted not to advertise the fact because it should be obvious. A more realistic example can be found in various fruit- and vegetable-based foods that advertise themselves as "cholesterol-free," which is exactly what we would expect since cholesterol is only found in animals in nature.
Ironically, the "asbestos-free" disclaimer would probably cause a customer to distrust the product - if the best thing they can say about a product is that it doesn't contain a toxic building material, do we really want to know what actually is in this stuff?
The claim in the title-text - that the product has no swine flu - is equally superfluous, as any food product containing disease-causing viruses would be subject to recalls, severe fines, and quite a few people losing their jobs; the fact that the product is actually on a supermarket shelf implies that it has a stellar reputation for not causing serious illness. (Bacteria are another story, though - make sure to cook that chicken thoroughly, kids!)
- [A shelf holds 3 boxes of cereal. Each box shows a bowl of cereal.]
- GenCo Oat Cereal
- StayPuft Oat Cereal
- RedFarm Oat Cereal (with additional text in a star) Asbestos-free!
- Narrator: I hate whatever marketer first realized you could do this.