Anna Gregoline | December 16, 2004
Should stricter laws be enacted banning billboards along our major highways? What about advertising on the sides of trains, buses, inside bathrooms?

We're bombarded with advertising these days. Does it bother you? Do you get sick of seeing ads, or do your eyes gloss over them? What is effective advertising to you? Which advertisements do you find most appealing or offensive? Why?

Lori Lancaster | December 16, 2004
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Scott Hardie | December 19, 2004
Sorry, I'm in a nitpicky mood today: Don't you mean that you could not care less? :-P

I doubt I would support a legal ban on advertising, but I would love for our society to become more outspoken against advertising. That's why I'm pleased every time I hear about moviegoers up in arms about pre-show commercials; the movie industry is definitely listening. I don't know what ever happened to that lawsuit by the woman who sat through many commercials long after the advertised showtime had passed (it was probably thrown out of court), but if it succeeded, maybe we'll see a long-overdue reduction in advertising on things we already pay for. If my money buys the food products I eat from the grocery store, why must I be confronted with hideous advertisements on the package for "Shrek 2" and eBay and the other useless excesses of our contemporary culture? (link) Just two days ago I took a survey at gamespot.com, of which I am a paid subscriber, about the effectiveness of advertising and whether I "realize" that advertising pays for content of the site. If that's true, gimme my money back.

I don't just fear that advertising is becoming too abundant in our nation's culture, I fear that it IS our culture at this point in time. The dominant books, films, and music of our age, the ones that will be remembered, are not the best ones; they are the mega-bestsellers and mega-blockbusters, and they achieve that status through the most aggressive advertising campaigns in history. "Shrek 2" is a lousy movie, but it has outearned even "E.T." to become the third-highest grossing film of all time (American box office), and we have all those cases of Dr. Pepper and boxes of taco shells to thank for it. I fear that my children will live in a world where every product's package contains screaming advertisements for other products, and every corner of our homes and workplaces will have some advertisement for something.

Scott Hardie | December 19, 2004
I might also mention that while I personally refuse to wear any clothing with an advertisement (even a designer label) on it, my grandfather really was the man: Family legend has it that he refused to buy a car unless the dealer pried off the little corporate nameplate and repaired the hole afterwards. His requests were reportedly granted, but today you'd be laughed out of the dealership for asking such a thing, as though after paying 15 to 20 grand for a new car you are still obligated to advertise the manufacturer to other drivers around you.

Anna Gregoline | December 20, 2004
Scott, that is AWESOME. I love the idea of a dealership prying off the logos.

Todd Brotsch | December 20, 2004
Friend of mine told the car dealer to take off the sticker, or have a car that didn't have one on it. Otherwise he was going to charge the dealer a monthy advertising fee.

Amy Austin | December 28, 2004
Hell, I'm all for the pre-movie commercials and dealership logos... IF it means free concessions and a few grand off your car! I'm with you, Scott -- it PISSES ME OFF to hear shit like that (advertising pays for this) if it ain't free and/or you're already paying for the service! There are too many examples of this, how advertisers get away with piggybacking their crap onto what we already pay for... (the clothing is another really good example, too!) I can appreciate, at least, the efforts of *some* advertisers to provide a modicum of entertainment value by making their ads humorous! Beyond that, I hate them all.

Kris Weberg | January 3, 2005
I personally hate people who are heavily influenced by advertisements. If no one were influenced much by ads, they'd have ceased existing a long time ago.

Though I am with Bill Hicks regarding people who work in advertising.

Scott Hardie | January 14, 2005
Ok, nobody else asked, so: What did Bill Hicks say about advertising? (It was probably as angry as everything else he said, but I'm sure there's a wonderful turn of phrase in it.)

Erik Bates | January 14, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | January 14, 2005
You're better off not knowing.

Kris Weberg | January 14, 2005
Bill Hicks was a very vulgar, very political comedian who tended to go off on extremely angry anti-corporate and anti-government rants.

He often opened his anti-commercial ranting by inviting anyone in the audience who worked for an ad agency to kill themselves.

Dave Stoppenhagen | January 15, 2005
Scott I'm with you I hate all the clothes with logo's and name brands, I don't like to wear advertisements. That kind of thing never bothered me in the past but since the military my preference has changed.

Amy Austin | January 15, 2005
Isn't it weird what the military changes about you, Dave???

Dave Stoppenhagen | January 17, 2005
Yeah you should have seen me about 6 months before I joined. Much different person.

Anna Gregoline | January 17, 2005
I would have liked to.

Dave Stoppenhagen | January 18, 2005
Lori might have a picture somewhere, but I would have too scan one. If I can find any.

Lori Lancaster | January 18, 2005
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Dave Stoppenhagen | January 18, 2005
nah i'm thinkin Jr. Year High School maybe.

Nothing earlier

Lori Lancaster | January 18, 2005
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Lori Lancaster | January 20, 2005
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Steve Dunn | January 20, 2005
My brother in law is a freelance ad man. He writes copy, I think mostly for pamphlets and other promotional materials. I'm not exactly sure what he does, but he's definitely in advertising and he's knowledgeable about the industry. I like reading his trade journals when we visit.

He could kill himself, I guess, but I think his wife and daughter would be very upset. So would I.

I think advertising is essentially about communication. It doesn't have to be lies. There is value in effectively transmitting TRUTHFUL information about products and services. Unless you completely eschew all commerce and live like the Unabomber, at some point you'll want to have some basis upon which to choose between Colgate and Crest. The message and packaging may not appeal to our dry rationality, but much of the supposed rationality in human decisionmaking is illusory anyway. Advertising is useful in understanding our world because it is results-driven and non-ideological. Advertising teaches us how people REALLY make decisions.

I think advertising also serves the important purpose of sharpening our collective BS detection skills. The existence of advertising, known to all of us from a very young age, forces habits of skeptical inquiry and critical examination. If all the advertisers committed suicide, we would be helpless against the ad-like messages continually lobbied at us by our government, and by our professors.

All persuasion is, in a sense, advertising. At least the things we commonly conceive as advertising (commercials and billboards and the like) offer the advantage accurately representing themselves. There is a debate raging in the ad business now about so-called "stealth advertising." There are ongoing marketing campaigns in which "cool looking" models hang out at, say, record stores and say nice things about particular albums or bands within earshot of customers. The debate is whether it is ethical to transmit a marketing message to someone who doesn't know he's being marketed to.

Sounds sleazy, but let us consider how this happens all the time. Don't our news outlets advertise a certain interpretation of current events? Isn't Bush's inauguration speech an advertisement for his second term agenda? Don't our professors advertise their preference among competing claims within their area of focus? Why should advertising a toaster be considered LESS noble than using the same manipulative techniques to sell a world view, an ideology, or a religion?

Anna Gregoline | January 20, 2005
You're right in that I'm suspicious of everyone trying to sell me something, no matter what that something is.

Interesting thoughts - I'll have to ponder on those.

Scott Hardie | January 21, 2005
To answer your last question, Steve, a toaster is not important but ideology and religion are. Show me a toaster with the power to change the world and maybe your commercial will work. :-)

Anyway, I don't really object to deception in commercials. It was obvious that Listerine wasn't being essentially truthful with their "as effective as floss" campaign, and if I were the judge in that case I don't know if I'd have ordered them to lay off. What I object to is the prevalance of advertising everywhere, that it's getting to a point where ads cannot be escaped. Food is essential to life, but it seems like every shelf in the grocery store has some food product with a bold promotional tie-in on the package, and it doesn't seem like anybody minds this. Can't I just eat my taco shells in peace without having to stare at Shrek's ugly face every time I reach for the package? If they're going to put advertising on the box, how come the price of taco shells has not come down? It's not a crisis or anything, just an ongoing, widely prevalent annoyance.

Anna Gregoline | January 21, 2005
I agree - everywhere! Products advertising....other products! It's insane.

And Scott...toasters aren't important? Heh. =)


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