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When Everything is an Advertisement and How to Cope
by, 05-17-2009 at 02:07 PM (1802 Views)
Iíll say it simply: Iím disgusted by the amount of advertising in the world today. Iíve been gradually working up to this fit, but the tipping point came the other day in a public bathroom. It was in a mall and the toilet paper was pre-printed with the name of a restaurant that is located in the mall. Out of curiosity, I checked the other stalls to see what their TP said and each stall had different retailers printed on the TP. It was bad enough when companies started advertising on the back of the stall doors, but this is one step too far. Canít a person have one private moment when they arenít bombarded by ads? I guess not.
This is just one example of advertising permeating every aspect of our daily lives. One day when you have some time (and a hardy stomach) try really tuning in to all the advertising around you. Itís on the Internet, on almost every page. Itís on TV and radio in increasingly long commercial blocks (and TVís are everywhere from airports to hair salons to restaurants). Your bills have ads tucked into them, and donít forget the deluge of junk mail and spam coming into your house every day.
Most movies now have blatant product placements, and thatís after you sit through the ads in the theater before the film starts. Ads are in magazines, newspapers, and now even some novels. Yes, some authors are being paid to push products in their novels. Youíll find ads on buses, trains, planes, doctorís offices, and even park benches and shopping carts. Go to a store like Target, Wal-Mart or Best Buy and there are either TV screens showing ads for upcoming products or pre-recorded ads are playing over the loudspeakers.
Want to go to a sporting event? Be prepared for the ads in the program and on the jombo-tron. And donít forget the corporate sponsorship of the arena itself. Even the last bastion of high culture, the theater, is not exempt, with most auditoriums now sporting corporate names and logos and putting advertising into the programs. Your kids are even getting blasted at school as many schools now show Channel One or make deals with corporations to provide materials in exchange for advertising or logo placement. Sponsored book covers, anyone?
Ads are everywhere and it seems there is no escaping them. I understand that companies need to advertise, at least to some extent, otherwise how would people know about their products. Itís how they make money. I get it. But when every public space is plastered with ads, has it gone too far? I think so.
Iíve come to the conclusion that this overdone advertising is just another by-product of our consumer based (obsessed?) society. We have so many products, variants of products, specialty products, and products for every conceivable need and condition available today that, even if you papered every surface with ads you still probably couldnít show them all.
Take a laundry detergent with a basic formula as an example. It comes in powder and liquid, regular and concentrate. Then the manufacturer adds or subtract special scents. Then they add in fabric softener and/or bleach. Then they make a natural formula. Then they make more scents. Every single one of these product variations probably has itís own ad. Within one ďbrandĒ of laundry detergent, you have the possibility for at least ten ads. Multiply that times every brand of every product thatís available today and you can see why the ad space is becoming overcrowded and overflowing into every corner of our lives.
So, whatís wrong with all this advertising? First of all, advertising leads to overspending. When youíre constantly bombarded with messages telling you to buy, buy, buy, youíre more apt to buy things you donít need or really want. You buy because you believe it will improve your life, make you prettier, fill some void in your life, or make you part of the in-crowdóall messages cooked up by the ad agencies to sell you the product. We know intellectually that most claims arenít true. No product, no matter how great, is going to change the core of our being. But still we buy. Some buying is necessary, but a lot of people get into trouble when they see ads and suddenly think, ďI have to have that thing,Ē when five minutes ago they didnít even know it existed or that they needed one.
That brings me to the second problem of over-advertising which is manufactured needs. We need shelter, clothes and food. We donít need every gizmo on the planet, meals at expensive restaurants, designer clothes, or homes that look like designer showplaces. Yet the ad gurus would have you believe that you do indeed need all of those things so youíd better buy their products. Medical ads are the best at this. How many times have you heard an ad for a ďconditionĒ that sounds like something someone trumped up to sell drugs? Yes, there are some real conditions out there that require medication. But more and more it seems like weíre seeing things that were previously just considered a fact of life turned into ďdebilitating medical conditionsĒ that can only be treated with expensive drugs. Are the conditions really that bad, or do the advertisers only want us to think so?
Third, all this advertising has a negative effect on our public spaces. Why spoil the beauty of a public park with ads on the benches? Remember when buildings, theaters or museums were named after people who did great things for the community, enshrining their names and deeds in our memories? Now most buildings are named after a faceless corporation. Thereís no character in that, no sense of uniqueness or community.
Fourth, advertising overload isnít good for us mentally. When kids are exposed to ads in school and everywhere else, they become obsessed with things and status at the expense of a joyful life and healthy relationships. Kids donít have a filter that letís them know some things are hype and fiction, so they believe a lot more than adults. Adults who donít engage their filters are much the same way. Too much advertising makes it hard for us to make decisions because there is too much information, too much choice. Some people become stressed, afraid of making the wrong choice. I only speak for myself, but advertising overload makes me cranky and angry. When all I see are ads everywhere I go, I feel manipulated and used. Some people are depressed by advertising, knowing that they will never have the perfect body, the perfect house, or the perfect car. When youíre constantly told that you donít measure up, it becomes depressing. Constant bombardment by any message takes itís toll emotionally and advertising, with itís images of perfection, success, and happiness that are not real, takes more of a toll than most.
(See the rest of the article below.)
-Author: J. Derrick