The Great Advertising Bubble

Advertising is everywhere. In print publications, TV commercials and infomercials, spam and junk mail, telephone marketing, product labels, massively scattered in sport venues, and increasingly into what should be our valuable public spaces.

Corporate marketing is so very invasive as at every turn it can be in our faces, infiltrating through our eyes and ears and establishing residence in our minds for very many years. The average North American is exposed to hundreds or much more advertisements per day. This has influenced us for so many years that many of us may not have considered how it has affected our lifestyles and society as a whole. The young are virtually swamped with instructions on what and how much to buy, and how they should live socially, and from such an early age.

This social manipulation designed by the corporate world has to go down in history as a great failing of democracy.

No wonder we live in a materialistic society - we are programmed to want more, of many things many times each day; and the ads work their wonders. How has this come about? In earlier years advertising was used to introduce new products and services or significant improvements to existing ones, and in a less intense and more ethical manner. Over many decades it has become the competitive, persuasive marketing tool that it is today. Where once consumer conversations played the important part in a product's success, the strongest and shrewdest marketing campaign too often wins the battle for sales today.

Consider the average citizen's daily exposures to advertising.

Television program commercials have increased in intensity and as a percentage of viewing time and movies will often step up exposure towards the end when the viewer is locked in. Bottom of screen ads are beginning to appear in programming and this trend will extend, perhaps through an entire program, as viewers remain complacent. Children will often insist on watching the commercials; they're cleverly done and entertaining, but they are also influential and addictive. The kids need help and not only from the parents but from our politicians who can fix this if the desire is there.

Local news broadcasts are stretched thinly and cheaply and inserted with many commercials along the way. Some TV services have a channel with program listings which rotate very quickly and take up only 1/3 of the screen area. The remaining 2/3 of the space features loud, distracting and annoying sales pitches that overpower the listings. Most commercials are intrusive and louder than the regular programming and family conversations.

I won't listen to the radio station that plays my favorite tunes. Between songs they not only run ads but keep repeating the name of the station over and over between every song, often two or three times.

Clothing. How gullible are consumers? Pretty easy, some, when they will pay extra to walk around with brand advertising on their clothes. Labels are proudly displayed on clothing because manufacturers have convinced many that this will raise their status or improve self-esteem and perhaps show that the wearer is clever, has good taste and belongs. How strong is this artificial image enhancing trend? The example that had me gape in amazement was a baby sleeper with huge brand letters taking up the entire front. This is insane! Unbelievable that this could be purchased by a mature adult or that this is even permitted!

Retail in-store promotions while shopping often include vocal nagging and now the use of overhead persuasion monitors is on the rise at the checkout or elsewhere. A recent twist is a monitor at the checkout registering your grocery tally and prices as they are rung up; a great idea. Half of the screen display is, you guessed it, product promotion.

In-your-face store displays and sale signs get bigger and spread out like dandelions. SALE used to indicate a bargain. Now it's SALE SALE SALE SALE multiplied and scattered all over the store. And these or similar displays might be there every week and perhaps no bargain at all. In-store marketing is captured advertising, as long as you remain in the store.

More serious though, store food product packages carry impressive, often deceptive ads on their labels, to encourage shoppers to drop them in their baskets. How do you feel about splashy cartoon attractions directed at kids, on food packaging that contains sugar laden cereal?

Big sports require big money to pay big salaries and fans pay for this in big ticket prices, and in a great absorption of advertising. It is stunning to see the ads inside an arena, repeated many times around the sides, on the uniforms and playing surface, above the seats, on the scoreboard. Hockey games for one are halted to allow for more television commercials for the at-home fans.

Public space belongs to the public; what is adverting doing on our park benches, our buildings and transportation? Politicians are selling us out when they relinquish our property to commerce. Some governments not only go along with this marketing madness but act like their greedy corporate buddies do and actively bolster their gambling revenue with active exaggeration campaigns.

"Your Dreams Can Come True . . . $30,000,000 JACKPOT . . . Get Rich Now . . . !"

Political campaigning by today's representatives is mind boggling and would-be candidates continually reach new lows as negative electioneering takes prominence over plain old, exaggerated and fictitious, facts and promises. They are chucking ethics out the window like profit hungry merchandisers.

Sales flyers and other junk mail are delivered to our homes in enormous quantities. Take notice that many items in a sales page may not be on sale at all if they do not specify a discount. Inserts often contain sub inserts of different sizes that try to fall out when you open them, to get your attention. Repetition in advertising sells and you can get exactly the same insert a week later with only the date changed.

Internet ads are always looking for new ways to get in your face. Old style pop-ups may now appear when you mouse over words. Top and sidebar attention grabbing images jump up and down so you must notice. The ad screen area percentage keeps increasing with a wider or a second column, or with a deeper or a second row. Some news or mail services require clicking through one or more propaganda pages to get to your destination.

Spam is always trying to worm its way into the home through the PC but fortunately can be controlled quite well with software but caution is still required. A previous PC I bought was a cheapie but that was no excuse for them to load the stupid thing with advertising. Just imagine - you didn't even need to go online to get pop-ups.

All cities are not all that beautiful in the same way, but some could be a whole lot prettier with lowered ad exposure. Huge ugly billboards, business signs, advertising on buses and bus stops, public benches and buildings does not make a pretty picture.

It's nearly impossible to avoid commercial promotions from infecting us; they are too strong a force. Unless we live in the deep woods or dark cave they will likely creep into every corner of our lives unabated, coming in different forms from many directions. In your face marketing is wide reaching and always ready to occupy more of our lives. There are many billions of dollars spent on advertising each year and we are paying for it in money, and also most dearly with a loss in true values in our lifestyles.

Advertising is always there, working relentlessly and herding us along the trail to a world garbage dump. The reason for this marketing tidal wave? Competition for sales and profits. There are increasingly more companies with more products and services competing for the same money.

It's weird that we are generally so predictable as far as advertisers are concerned. They simply have to attract with entertainment, noise, shock, repetition, and other attention grabbing tactics. It could be very annoying but it will likely reside in our heads for a while. It's a battle for our minds and we are losing much of our natural desires to live happy and valued lives.

Singularly, intrusive marketing incidences are of little concern but widespread and continual they affect us personally and socially in a negative and unnatural way. I wish our governments would do something about the state of commercial marketing. And the good guys in the business - they should speak up and demonstrate ethics in commerce. Who knows but this might be a profitable business strategy and government could offer incentives to encourage it.

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Updated and expanded from an earlier issue as outlined in Article Blogging and Re-posts.
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