Tag Archives: advertisement

Culture War Correspondence: Advertising

GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, today’s Culture War Correspondence is brought to you by-

-well, we’re going to hash that out in just a second. Our topic tonight is advertising, on this blog specifically.

EVAN: If you all want to check over on our Contact page you’ll see that Michelle, “of BowlingShoes.com, BowlingBags.com, BowlingBalls.com and DiscountBowlingSupply.com” left us an offer to help advertise their products.

This isn’t the first time she’s contacted us either, as she sent the same offer to the blog’s email address, which I thought I replied back when I got it early November but didn’t.

As it stands, I’m going to have to publicly politely refuse her offer, as this blog isn’t the sort of place to find a) bowling paraphernalia reviews or b) other people’s writing. She did help us come to this topic, though, so my thanks to her for that-

GORDON: Which begs the question, of course, if you’d be up for other kinds of advertising here on the blog. What’s your gut reaction to the idea? Continue reading

Some Thoughts On Advertising

There are certain things in life that can be avoided.

For all our howling about vapid, synthetic pop-songs we do, at the end of the day, have the ability to simply turn the radio off. For all our wailing about trashy, stupid television, we have the ability to just point our remote and switch off the TV. Even people who annoy us we can at least avoid.

But that’s not so much true when it comes to advertising. Unless you’re living in an underground bunker somewhere in Colorado, it’s not something you can get away from.

Why you’d even be reading this blog, I don’t know.

Between telemarketers, logos, TV and radio, billboards (including mobile ones, which we have in Vegas), and the internet, there’s really no escaping. Even if you’re sitting alone in your house, it’s all around you. You’ve got company emblems stitched onto your shirts. Manufacturer’s names written on your underwear. Go to your kitchen, and you’ll find advertisements on the back of pasta and cereal boxes.

I’m only here to offer some food for thought; I won’t be taking up myself the war cry that advertisements and commercials always play to the lowest common denominator. Sexuality in the crassest, most objectified form, greed, gluttony, envy, passivity, sloth (not the kind shown above)- it’s all there, and thrown at us every waking minute of every day of our lives. What does that do to us?

Most people who work with this line of thought point to the movie Idiocracy as a dark prophecy of the world to come.

In this movie, a man is (accidentally) cryogenically frozen and awakens in a dystopian future where advertising and trashy TV has resulted in the average human IQ dropping well into the double digits. While it’s not a masterpiece in and of itself, and it’s suggestion that dumb people have inherently dumb kids is just plain wrong, the fact that more and more our society seems to be moving towards Idiocracy is downright eerie.

I will, nonetheless, offer an alternative for you to ponder.

What if advertising is actually raising our BS awareness? Information on the internet is usually either (at best) misrepresented or (at worst) outright falsehood. We don’t seem dumber as a species for it- on the contrary, we seem more skeptical and discerning. Perhaps we are, in fact, becoming tougher to fool. Naturally I can’t point to any cause-and-effect relationship, but it’s certainly something to think about.

Of course, there’s the dark alternative to that as well.

What happens to our psyches and society when we’re constantly on-guard against everything? Is that paranoid cynicism really healthy for us? What does it do to us to hold everything in contempt as just another scheme to take away your money? Even if we tone that down a bit, what does it do to us to walk through life constantly being sold things? Cradle to grave, confronted by sales pitch after sales pitch- how can that be anything but damaging?

Again, this isn’t to simply rail against advertising. There’s plenty that advertising, well, I don’t want to say “does right,” but certainly does “well.” Managing to communicate messages or ideas in the shortest amount of time using the smallest amount of words and images is, well, impressive. The ability to remotely encode associations, emotions, and reactions in the human mind through slogans, catch phrases, campaigns and the like is undeniably clever, even if more than a little Orwellian.

Imagine if all that money, research, and manpower was put towards something actually constructive. Imagine even just a quarter of all advertising dedicated to communicating positive messages. How much more of an intelligent, healthy, compassionate society would we be? If nothing else, it would mean some telemarketers could do something more fulfilling with their lives than shilling out cruises in the Caribbean.

It’s just something to think about.

Be Thankful For Your Three Seconds of Star Trek

This is going to be a fairly short post, you guys. I leave for a college reunion in about an hour, and am running a little short on time. Maybe stay tuned for a longer one tonight, though.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while [and really, who has?] then you probably know how I feel about movie trailers and previews. I was more excited than anything for this year’s The Avengers, but the amount of content they put out before its release was almost enough to rid me of a lot of my excitement for the movie. 

On last night’s episode of Conan brought in director J. J. Abrams, and with him a clip from the sequel Star Trek into Darkness. Fans all over America huddled in front of their TVs in anticipation, only to see this:

The clip is all of three frames long.

Understandably viewers were  more than a little disappointed. Honestly, I was as invested in the franchise as the average Trekkie, I imagine I would be too. Abrams lets us know leading up to the teaser that this is a scene where Spock is in a suit of some kind and is also in a volcano. Cue scene, cue outrageous applause from audience.

That might’ve been great for the studio audience, but not so much for people in their homes. Still, it’s good that a 2013 film has the restraint to not start bombarding people with footage.

And speaking of restraint, it seems like that’s what anyone who’s into film needs nowadays. It was my own fault that I found out exactly why the armour Stark wears in Iron Man 3 is the Mark XLVII. Do not look it up, it is a huge, enormous spoiler that will let you know a major plot point, as well as cause you to curse your need to know more and more bitterly.

With the way internet and the media work today, spoilers and leaks abound. It’s up to the viewers who want to preserve their theatre viewing experience to keep a modicum of self-control and not constantly keep checking comic book movie sites [this is more a message to myself than anything else].

What I’m trying to say is, be grateful, Star Trek fans. You have over half a year until Into Darkness comes out. Three seconds should be enough to tide you over for at least another month.

Product Placement, and/or Wouldn’t an Ice Cold Pepsi Really Hit The Spot Right Now?

After a long day, I plan on sitting back and finally watching the last episode of CBC’s Being Erica, a show I began last summer and have yet to finish. While skimming its Wikipedia page I was reminded of Season 4 Episode 8, and the product placement that the video below accurately describes  as “egregious.”

It’s difficult to be immersed in a show that shoves advertising down your throat, and I definitely remember being disturbed by it. A car that can park itself is impressive, but watching two characters you’ve grown familiar with ooh and aah as a car salesman lists its features is not. As I watch the clip again and hear the back and forth of “No way” and “Way” it’s hard not to feel a little sick inside.

As was to be expected, the Canadian press was far from thrilled by this. An article on the National Post titled “How Being Erica took product integration too far” cites this episode as the one that caused the author to “break up with Erica.” She also referenced a the following point I had already been planning on making:

Is there anything 30 Rock can’t get away with? The clip above features product placement that is far more in-your-face than what was found in Being Erica, yet manages to pull it off. It’s both meta and very funny, and as a result as viewers we can laugh it off and even respect what the show is doing.

How much, then, can we put up with? I fully recognize that Dr. Pepper plays a fairly prominent role in the first three Spider-man films, and the ridiculous amount of BMWs in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was impossible to ignore. Phones, more than ever have gotten a good amount of screen time in music videos, with so many examples out there I’m not even going to link to one.

Product placement [or integration, which definitely has more positive connotations] has, and will continue to be around, but is this something that we should take for granted and accept? That particular episode of Being Erica sparked an uproar of sorts, with audience members feeling offended that the network would think so little of them. The message behind their complaints seems to be: You can advertise to us, but be subtle about it.

The economy’s not in great shape, and TV shows and movies and music videos can only be made if there’s money to fund them. Since we’re going to keep getting logos flashed in our faces, what should we do? Can we do anything about it? As consumers of the media we should all have standards we expect to be met, but the question now is when do we draw the line?