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Advertising: So Evil It's Good

by travelingseth (writer), mission, San Francisco, March 05, 2008

Credit:

Yes, Advertising is Evil. But it's evolved to the point it's time to embrace it.

Like most of you who’ll read this, I HATE advertising. It is the glossy, airbrushed face of the devil. Raping my consciousness daily with thousands of messages I don’t want or need. But lately, slowly, my hatred is dissipating. Displaced by the grudging realization that advertising, in its increasing sophistication, does more good than evil.

Perhaps it’s Stockholm syndrome. My advertising captors have had me so long I’ve begun to love them. But I don’t think so. As far as I can see, there are at least three good reasons to embrace advertising. At least internet advertising anyway.

  1. It’s getting good enough to suggest things I might actually want. Example: I was recently on my myspace profile when I noticed a google Adsense ad for Bill Hicks ringtones. For those of you not in the know, Bill Hicks was a hugely influential, underground comedian from the late eighties/early nineties, who happens to be one of my favorite comedians. I wouldn’t be so impressed if I’d listed Bill Hicks on my profile, but I hadn’t. Google, with access to my myspace info (and god knows what else), was able to divine that I might like Bill Hicks. Not bad.
  2. It’s funded a boom of really great internet sites and services that wouldn’t exist without advertising. BrooWaha, for instance, will display this article next to a google ad to help pay for bandwidth, and possibly turn a modest profit (the writers do work cheap :)
  3. It gives you a voice. Just by browsing your favorite sites you’re usually generating revenue for their creators via ad impressions. Start clicking on the occasional ad (whether you intend to buy anything or not ;), and you generate even more. Occasionally you can even bash a little evil in the process. See that google ad for an evil corporation? Click on it and transfer up to a dollar to Google, who, for a ginormous corporation is surprisingly not that evil.

Whether we like it or not, advertising is the future. They’re going to get to us one way or another. We can embrace it and let them reach us on our terms. Or we can ignore it, and force the advertisers into ever more insidious forms of mind rape. I, for one, vote for less rape.



About the Writer

travelingseth is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Advertising: So Evil It's Good

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By Lila M. on March 05, 2008 at 03:28 pm

the Stockholm syndrome analogy is very true with the relationship between the advertiser and the consumer.

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By Umbrae on March 05, 2008 at 07:09 pm

Can't really say I agree with anything in this article. Advertising is a terrible, horrible thing and it's evolution will only lead to our destruction.

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By travelingseth on March 05, 2008 at 07:16 pm

What do you think pays for the bandwidth to let you post that comment?

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By Umbrae on March 05, 2008 at 07:36 pm

Don't get me wrong - not for a moment do I deny that advertising is an important part of commerce. I didn't elucidate too well previously, because I was simply commenting off the cuff. Allow me to:

The evolution of advertising as an increasingly invasive force is a terrible thing. Marketers will go to no end in finding new ways to penetrate every single part of your life for needs of consumption; and it only contributes to a culture of excess.

There was recently a news story floating around about a controversial billboard in New York that used special sound technology to broadcast something directly into your head (http://blog.wired.com/music/2007/12/billboard-blast.html). In Los Angeles, all static billboards are being replaced by gigantic LCD screens which allow for more advertising space - not to mention the fact that the constant flickering images are highly distracting when driving on the road.

Advertising as a medium is spiraling out of control, and there's no excuse for it. If you read up on the news, some marketing developments are really quite terrifying. I don't know aboubt you, but I prefer to live a life without constant bombardment.

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By travelingseth on March 05, 2008 at 07:58 pm

I totally agree that many forms of advertising are invasive and terrible.  All the examples you cite are inexcusable.  But I do think we have more power than we realize to get it under control, particularly online where there are so many alternative spaces to go to.  It's the public space that's more hopeless.  Local governments have basically just rolled over and let the advertizers have it all.  There, it seems we should do what the advertisers did; take it back without asking, legally or not.  NO LOGO.  Here in the Mission district in SF there's a billboard on a building two blocks from my house where ads lasts about a day before the taggers and graffiti artists get to it.

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By shellbelle on March 22, 2008 at 12:07 am

Once upon a time, my friend Scott and I were talking about the pervasiveness of advertising, and trying to think of place that had no advertising, yet. Living in rural(ish) New Mexico at the time, we realized there were thousands of advertising-free cows roaming in grasslands by the side of well-traveled roadways. So we got a local car dealership to pay us for painting their logo on the world's first completely organic billboard. Really.

http://paintedcows.com/specs.html

We laughed so hard, that we followed it up with a mass email joke telling people they could make thousands of dollars by selling ad space on their children. We said that advertisers felt that children were under-exposed to their marketing messages while they were in school, and were willing to pay top dollar to put temporary tattoos of their logos on children. My favorite part was the illustration of a kid with the "Gap" logo on his forehead.

Unfortunately, we had a flood of responses from people who actually wanted to do this, and neither of us could stomach everything that was implied by that.

I, for one, am still waiting for herds of Pepsi cows...

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By travelingseth on March 22, 2008 at 02:36 am

Lol.  Awesome.  You should actually do this to a few kids to make a point. 

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