Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Advertising On The Longest Commute Ever

by Digidave (editor), San Francisco, March 04, 2008

Flying from Miami to San Francisco I realized something, I was the perfect target for advertising. Even in the bathroom someone was selling me something.

(Part of a collabortive look at public advertising that you can join - just write your own story of how advertising is seen by you).

I'm trapped on an airplane. I am what you can only call a captive audience - and sure enough, even in the little private space I've been alotted on this commute, I'm somehow bombarded with advertising.

It's not suprising when you think about it. The travel industry is one of the few situations where it's totally acceptable to treat human beings like cattle, why not shove some mindless advertising in their face along the way?

You wait in lines, you are probed and prodded, crammed into small sardine like seats and then they ship you somewhere else. It would be wasted time if something wasn't passively sold to you in the meantime.

So here I am 30,000 feet in the air with some laptop battery time left and I thought I'd examine what's being advertised to me right now while I'm just sitting here in seat 24E.

The first source I always turn to is the dreaded skymall.

Yes -advertising and shopping all rolled into one. Right after I'm forced to turn off all portable devices it's the first thing I grab. Tongue hanging out of mouth - I begin to day dream about what it must be like to win the lottery and by all this useless crap. Perhaps then reading the skymall booklet is a completetly different experience. For me, however, I look at pretty pictures of things and imagine how they would organize or improve my life. The truth, however, is that most of these gadgets and doodads would get used once. Somewhere in Japan there is a book "101 Useless American inventions."

The real advertising influx comes when the in-flight entertainment starts. I have no remote control (although some flights do) so when a commercial is on - I gratefully watch it. I mean, what is my other option? Talk to the people on either side of me who are already encroaching on my personal space? No thanks, I'd rather watch the same commercial over and over again.

Even before the commercials start I'm reminded that this is "eye on America, your in-flight entertainment brought to you by CBS." Even the entertainment is branded.

American Airlines magazine is enough to make me vomit. I look at the glossy cover and check out the featured article this month "Cleaveland Rocks" - but have to put it down soon afterwords. Besides, the in-flight refreshments are coming.

I ask for a Pepsi (on purpose) and I'm told they only have Coke. I dream about the behind the door deals that probably went on so Coke-a-Cola could corner the American Airlines
in-flight refreshment market.

It seems everywhere I look, even on an airplane, somehow things are being sold to me. I only hope that being concious of all this doesn't blow-up my brain. In fact, I've already made a promise to myself. When I get off this plane and start walking around the airport, where billboards and placards will bombard me, I'll go back into my usual zombie mode of ignoring all the advertising that comes my way. It's easier just absorbing them all without trying to consider what it means that your mental airwaves are awash in selling.

About the Writer

Digidave is an editor for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Advertising On The Longest Commute Ever

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By Gerard Barberi on March 04, 2008 at 02:14 pm

Great article Dave, but you didn't mention what they were selling you in the bathroom.  Was it the toilet paper? ;)

I have to ride the NYC subway everyday, so I understand how you felt on the plane.

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By Digidave on March 04, 2008 at 02:19 pm

I'm hoping that somebody who lives in NY can tell me about their experience on the daily subway grind.

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By travelingseth on March 04, 2008 at 02:35 pm

I think the most violated I ever felt was on a US Air flight when I pulled down the tray table only to find it covered in a brightly colored Dodge ad.  I still scarred.

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