Creative Destruction

August 20, 2006

Advertising and Sponsorship Everywhere

Filed under: Education,Navel Gazing,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 12:51 pm

Maturation of marketing and branding practices over the past 25 years or so has led to increasingly intrusive demands for our attention in order to make a brand impression. As the Communications Revolution of the 90s expanded the media available for advertising, advertising expenditures grew and a media event without advertising and/or sponsorship became unthinkable. This table shows data for the years 2002-2003 indicating the greatest increases in media that existed only modestly 25 years ago. Further, stunts such as tattoos on foreheads (here and here), printing on eggs , and ads on stairs are indications that there is no space beyond the reach of advertisers in their desperation to raise their messages above the din that the deluge of advertising has created.

It is problematical, to say the least, that we can’t escape advertising. Anyone with a whit of understanding knows that TV networks aren’t selling shows to advertisers. Instead, shows attract viewers, and it’s viewers who are being sold to advertisers. While we make modest attempts to protect children from cigarette and alcohol advertising on TV (which isn’t working), the ads themselves and the ubiquity of product placement in programming guarantee, according to this website, that children as young as two — before they can even read — recognize two-thirds of popular brand logos. Parents who plunk their kids down in front of the TV are effectively selling out their kids to advertisers.

One new practice that functions as a harbinger of doom is the placement of advertising in textbooks. Apologists offer that the upside of this practice is that students will soon be able to get textbooks for free when advertising and sponsorship replaces the revenue normally derived from sales. That rationalization is, of course, a sign that the battle is already lost. Economic utility (grooming pliant young consumers right in the schools) won out long ago (see here and here) over the broad educational ideal of instilling in young minds a love of learning. Another example of children’s education being sold out to commercial interests is the sponsored field trip — to stores. The pretense may be instruction in health, hygiene, safety, or history, but the underlying motivation of sponsors is selling.

One might hope adults are less vulnerable to advertising than the young. However, when our reality from birth is informed by the influence of advertisers, what hope is there really that we can form our ideas objectively and without the undue influence of those with a commercial agenda? Once coopted as a child, do adults really break free and operate independently? If the example of the SUV, marketed and sold to us as a desirable vehicle to own and operate, despite significant drawbacks, that answer has to be “no.”

About these ads

37 Comments »

  1. I have mixed feelings.

    On the one hand, I am not a big fan of consumerism. Material goods are not the sine qua non of existence.

    On the other hand, a strong material economy is good for people. It puts food on the table and provides employment for people whose primary skillsets are in the area of being able to talk and help you find the right kind of socks.

    On the gripping hand, the idea that we can’t escape or resist advertising is piffle. And the idea that commercialism is inherently evil – harbingers of doom, indeed – is equally piffle. We live in a capitalist economy. Capitalism requires marketing. Marketing requires advertising. Being upset that children can recognize brand logos is like being upset that football players know the rules of football. And being unhappy about commercialism in the college textbook market – which is the closest thing we have in the United States to an overtly operating organized criminal syndicate – is like being unhappy that the prostitutes on the streetcorner are wearing mascara.

    I also detect more than a whiff of intellectual supremacism, here. There’s no hope that the poor dumb yokels out there can possibly form ideas “objectively and without the undue influence of those with a commercial agenda” – even though, as demonstrated by your own rejection of SUVs and what-not, that is manifestly possible. I would instead argue that the poor dumb yokels have different values than you do, and that the people buying SUVs are doing so because for them it’s the right product. Not to engage in too much armchair psychologizing, but it seems that your real issue is that people are making (airquote) wrong choices (/airquote), and in so doing are implicitly rejecting the choices that you have made.

    Better, it would seem to me, to make your own choices and then recognize that other people’s mileage will vary (in this case, literally). Their disagreement is not an attack.

    Comment by Robert — August 21, 2006 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  2. Maturation of marketing and branding practices over the past 25 years or so has led to increasingly intrusive demands for our attention in order to make a brand impression.

    Actually, IMO, marketing is on track to becoming less intrusive in its demands for your attention. Products like ad-blocking software and digital video recording, and new distribution models like iTunes means that marketers have to get a lot smarter with their ads, and do a lot less interruptive advertising in favor of more targeting, opt-in ads.

    And moreover, this company is an outgrowth of the young being resistant to advertising, not overly pliant to it. It’s a common trope that kids are helpless before the wiles of TV advertising, but the truth is, marketers are panicking about their inability to sell to younger demographics because we spend less and less time in front of the TV, where interruptive advertising is possible, and more time on the Internet and with DVRs, where ads can be blocked or easily ignored. Ads in textbooks are just like print ads or banner ads on Web sites–if you don’t want to look at them, you don’t have to. Just turn the page.

    Comment by Shankar Gupta — August 21, 2006 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  3. A decade ago, in France, an ad campaign was critizied for selling laundry detergent using a family of monkeys bouncing from chairs and lamps and making incoherent sounds. Most experts agreed that the ad was insulting to purchasers comparing them to retarded monkeys. Sales tripled in less than six months and soon the “yo-to-to, pi-ti-ti” used by the chips when the bottle of soap was opened reached public recognition. Afterall “biathches” or “bling bling” are also far from intellect inspired expressions. Experts were baffled by the situation.

    A good friend and a marketing expert explained the situation. An ad and marketing is directed at promoting sales, not getting brand recognition. In rare instances, the population, both intelligent and stupid reacts logically and reaches for the best buy. Dog food was one of these rare exceptions. People buy cheap, what ever is on a label and what ever an ad may say on tv.

    In fact, Intelligent customers compare products, ask questions to their neighbors, try products and read labels. Morons walk to a shelve, look at the color of a box, remember a chimp and pick an item even if a cheaper one stands 2 inches away from it. Morons can be convinced of a lot of things.

    Ironically my friend explained that intelligent people also have their delusions. Hygiene is one example. He explained that one day someone toothpaste was put on the market. Studies proved and still do that brushing with water leads to a better result. But once intelligent customers convince themselves of a need, nothing will change this opinion. Nothing is more dirty than putting a 2 month old toothbrush in your mouth, period. Yet, most will not see this.

    Others will wash their hands 20 times per day, but cannot understand that dollar bills are the most discusting, filthy object a person can have. It is handed from person to person, kept in pants, never washed. The same goes for baseball caps and the list goes on.

    All of this to say that marketing is quite complicated and while I like your analysis, I am sure we cannot bank on it.

    On the other hand, he said, intelligent people, when they derail go crazy. He explained, for example about toothpaste. He said

    Comment by Vilon — August 22, 2006 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  4. Robert,

    People buying SUV’s are sadly stupid, really. A little like the law now requires a loan maker to provide the total cost of credit, in many european companies, the price of a car must include an approximation of the cost of gas to run the machine over 5-10 years.

    The result is quite stunning even for what you call people with different values. In fact, you confuse a lasy desire to remain uneducated and unwise about the world with an informed choice.

    The same people elect a former oil executive who drove his company in the ground, see the price of gas go from $1 to $3 and will still convince themselves it is the Saudi’s fault.

    I am on the left, generally people on the left are polite, moderate and get insulted by people like you who use strong terms at will. All I can say is, lose a ball and grow half your brain back.

    Comment by Vilon — August 22, 2006 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  5. Vilon, you might want to choose a post where you don’t call people stupid and lazy and make sexist insults to assert how polite and moderate you are.

    Comment by bobhayes — August 22, 2006 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  6. And to look at the gas question:

    To make the math easy, let’s assume that an SUV uses 50% more gas than a sedan of similar capacity. I’ve owned SUVs and I’ve owned sedans, and this is a fair estimate. That means that a family that drives 10,000 miles per year (typical for Americans) will use (say) 500 gallons of gas in a sedan, versus 750 gallons in an SUV.

    At $3/gallon, that’s a $750 annual premium for owning an SUV. Given the substantial performance and capability differences between SUVs and sedans, I would not characterize rationally accepting that premium as “a lazy desire to remain uneducated and unwise”.

    But of course, your mileage may vary (heh); I eagerly await more assertions about my masculinity and intellect in lieu of argument.

    Comment by bobhayes — August 22, 2006 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  7. Studies proved and still do that brushing with water leads to a better result.

    Cite?

    Comment by Daran — August 22, 2006 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  8. I am on the left, generally people on the left are polite, moderate and get insulted by people like you who use strong terms at will. All I can say is, lose a ball and grow half your brain back.

    Yup. Sounds like the same school of thought as Deb Frisch.

    Sincerely,
    A Fellow Leftist

    Comment by Off Colfax — August 23, 2006 @ 12:56 am | Reply

  9. You determine it costs $750 per year to have a SUV over a Sedan. I wish life could be so simple, your life must be simple.

    To analogise, this reminds me of studies that claim: “Smokers are 250% more likely than non-smokers to die of a heart attack.” These studies are simply unable to take into account the complexity of lifestyles and the fact that in average smokers are not as careful about health as non smokers. Do smokers exercise more? Do smokers eat heatly foods? Are smokers overweight? Truth is that smoking is generally part of a mindset that leads to heart disease.

    Ecology works the same way. People who buy smaller cars may chose to live closer to their workplace, walk, not travel 40 miles to get to a specific restaurant, bike, do preventive maintenance on their cars, etc.

    In today’s world, we are free to live large, and buy larger cars if we want, I am just not impressed with the IQ of those unable to reach a decision on their own to be a better human being. Why put on the AC instead of opening the window? Why not right? You would determine that using the AC is only $10 per year and you like it. I know. I know.

    As for being sexist, now that is funny. I suppose you are one of those americans who think women should shave their legs, dress with skin tight clothes, wear perfume and makeup while your male counterpart should dress like a prison inmate, be overweight, display body hair proudly and should be discriminated and judged if he displays any sign of societal evolutional tendencies.

    Comment by Vilon — August 23, 2006 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  10. Well, I’ve seen the light. I am humbled that someone of your moral greatness deigns to share with us the secrets of being a better human being. Who knew it would involve driving yippy little cars, sweating like a pig, and foregoing good food?

    Please, Vilon. Share more with us the elements of being a genuinely good person. We yearn for this knowledge, so that we can be freed from the prison of our opulent, but evil, American lifestyle.

    Comment by Robert — August 23, 2006 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  11. Well, if you write posts and insult brutus, you should be able to take it. You are just not used to people on the left treating you with the same regard as you do. Just read your post and next time be more polite if you are tring to ask for some respect back.

    Comment by Vilon — August 23, 2006 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

  12. To analogise, this reminds me of studies that claim: “Smokers are 250% more likely than non-smokers to die of a heart attack.” These studies are simply unable to take into account the complexity of lifestyles and the fact that in average smokers are not as careful about health as non smokers. Do smokers exercise more? Do smokers eat heatly foods? Are smokers overweight? Truth is that smoking is generally part of a mindset that leads to heart disease.

    I agree that some studies are unable to adequately account for confounding factors, and that this can be a reasonable reason to doubt the results.

    But the particular example you bring up is completely wrongheaded. It is not at all difficult for studies of mortality and smoking to account for exercise, weight, and diet factors; in fact, I think it would be hard to find any study of smoking and mortality done in the last two decades that doesn’t account for at least two of those factors, and other factors as well.

    Also, I have to agree with the others: The over-the-top hypocrisy of you criticizing the right wing for rudeness, completely destroys your credibility.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 23, 2006 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  13. Why put on the AC instead of opening the window?

    Because outside the window it’s over 90 degrees?

    Comment by Ampersand — August 23, 2006 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  14. Webster defines hypocrisy as “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not”

    I do not own a car. I walk to work, I bike 50 miles a week. As for my credibility, people on the right do not respect good arguments, solid reasoning, or even logic. As you just did, they move in for personally issues. They say: “you are a hypocrit” and out the window goes any argument you may have. So let me laugh at this.

    Comment by Vilon — August 23, 2006 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  15. One might note that when “the right” does something, and “the left” does something (you do know that Amp is a huge leftist, don’t you?), the actual population of people who do the something is “human beings”.

    It’s not a particularly right-wing failing to think that hypocrisy makes for bad arguments; it’s not even a failing. You can’t complain about the lazy guineas and then write a credible post about how racism is bad. You can’t complain about some folk being lazy morons, and then write a credible post about how bad it is to attack people. Credibility, for better or worse, affects the seriousness with which people will view your arguments.

    Not owning a car, walking to work, etc. give you a certain degree of credibility in discussions of the physical realities of topics. They don’t give you any credibility in asserting that these things make you a better person. For that, you first need to demonstrate that you ARE a better person, and THEN make the case that your wonderful ecolifestyle is simply a reflection of that.

    Thus far, in this and other postings, you haven’t made the case for your moral advantage.

    Comment by Robert — August 23, 2006 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  16. Ampersand:

    Also, I have to agree with the others: The over-the-top hypocrisy of you criticizing the right wing for rudeness, completely destroys your credibility.

    I don’t know whether it’s hypocrisy; it certainly is irony.

    But hypocrisy is a poor basis for judging a person’s arguments, being basically an ad hom. Vilon’s credibility for me is destroyed by the general weakness of his arguments and his propensity for making implausible claims without substantiation.

    Comment by Daran — August 23, 2006 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  17. Hysterical,

    Really… Essentially shut up… Wow! What you call a propensity for making implausible claims is just called another point of view that you try very hard to silence. Ever tried debating and not simply posting your opinion? You might actually learn something.

    Comment by Vilon — August 23, 2006 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

  18. OK, Vilon. Then post some support for your claims. You’ve made strong assertions. You’ve been asked to provide some evidence or substantiation for those assertions. Your response to those requests has uniformly been silence.

    Debating, as you implicitly acknowledge, is not simply posting your opinion. You’ve done the posting-your-opinion part. Now do the debating part. Back up what you say.

    Comment by Robert — August 23, 2006 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

  19. Very well, I like what you say. What is it you want evidence to? I have rarely seen anyone on the right who reads supporting information but instead the right simply uses it to come back with their own opinion and without making the mandatory step of reflection on the read arguments.

    Comment by Vilon — August 23, 2006 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  20. Daran’s comment has a list of links to your orphaned claims.

    Comment by Robert — August 23, 2006 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  21. But hypocrisy is a poor basis for judging a person’s arguments, being basically an ad hom.

    My point, poorly written though it was, is that his credibility as an opponent of rudeness is in shreds. Sorry I didn’t make that clearer.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 24, 2006 @ 4:51 am | Reply

  22. I am quite a busy person but here is one possible link where a person talks about what is tought in dental schools in the United States.

    http://www.frontrowcrew.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=524

    Wikipedia provides a nice history of toothpaste and lists the main ingredients. Quite funny. I was initially surprised when i travelled the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. My camel driver had discusting teeths, in face most guys had monstruous teeths but some of the women, and a couple of guys had the whitest smiles. I asked politely with the interpreter how that came to be. Our guide walked to a tree, cut a small branch, made a 45 deg cut and just played with it over the teeths for 30 minutes. I wondered if it was somehow the sap. Upon my return to France, saw my dentist who happens to be one of the teachers of the school of dentistry in Paris IV. He explained that time and pressure was the key. He also told me the dentistry lobby was very strong, he said they had a solution to kill the bacteria that is the source of most cavities by taking a pill once a month and they also knew how to place a layer of invisible varnish on the teeths once per year to prevent any cavities. But he explained that for obvious financial reasons, the industry as a whole had discredited these remedies.

    If you read the first patents from Colgate on toothpaste, you will also be surprised at their claim of usefulness. Ok, back to work.

    Comment by Vilon — August 24, 2006 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  23. Well, an Internet discussion forum and an anecdote about the vast dental-industrial complex and its conspiracy.

    Don’t know about you boys, but I’m convinced.

    Comment by Robert — August 24, 2006 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  24. He also told me the dentistry lobby was very strong, he said they had a solution to kill the bacteria that is the source of most cavities by taking a pill once a month and they also knew how to place a layer of invisible varnish on the teeths once per year to prevent any cavities. But he explained that for obvious financial reasons, the industry as a whole had discredited these remedies.

    Holy conspiracy theory, Batman! :D

    You are piece of work, Vilon. For obvious reasons, I won’t criticize you on your rudeness, so I will just focus on how full of shit you are. Either you are more naive than my mother’s aunt and believe every story your various supposedly well-placed friends tell you, or you’re one of those assholes who gets his jollies in making up stuff (the more implausible, the better!) and hoping that at least someone is stupid enough to buy it.

    This latest one sounds about as plausible as this one

    Truthfully, to open up the debate, while I worked in France in 1992, my former boss sold to most middle east countries nuclear detonators, the products needed to build a bomb. Most people do not know this, but getting the fissile matter is actually easy, getting the detonator products is hard. So essentially, Iran already has the bomb and has had it for about 20 years.

    (My emphasis)

    You can’t possibly believe any of that yourself. Be honest and let us know what your goal is in all your lies?

    Trolling?

    Making leftists look bad (I have mixed feelings on that, generally, it’s good, but I do agree with leftists every now and then and I really don’t want any of your truthfull anecdotes on those times)?

    What?

    Comment by Tuomas — August 24, 2006 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  25. I was told the participants on this board had some spark of intelligence, visibly it is not the case. “full of shit you are” and “all your lies” Unlike you, I am not affraid of what I say or have said. Take a look at my resume and beat it if you can, well in fact I am sure you can’t. Yes I was in europe in 1992 and yes what I said is the truth. You just can’t stomach the fact that someone knows more than you and someone had direct information over matters that count in life and not only get information via websites published by other parties. Incredible.

    http://www.vedderprice.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/prof.detail/object_id/4ec7bea8-da07-4274-a9e6-c7d7e56005e4/Villeneuve.cfm

    There was even an article published with this missile based information back around 1991-1993 in American Scientific. Strangely only the canadian version had the article, it was censured in the American version. Since then, all copies were recovered. I doubt you can find one.

    I do not make the leftists look bad, you are the type of people that make americans look rude and uneducated across the world. Get a life and do like me, learn, study, travel and talk to people that matter. Most of the stuff I did is not on the resume for obvious reasons since it is still classified. Only the civil nuclear is there and that should be enough at this time.

    Comment by Vilon — August 24, 2006 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  26. I’m not American. Go on and keep telling everyone how intelligent and brave you are.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 24, 2006 @ 11:56 am | Reply

  27. Nice way to say sorry for being rude. Wow, you ask for proof of the fact I know about nuclear issues in europe. I give you proof with the only way possible by giving you online my resume and what does he say? He insults one more time.

    Does the word pathetic come to mind here? It does to me.

    Comment by Vilon — August 24, 2006 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  28. I also hope you are not canadian, that would be a grave insult to my country. Get a life and stop insulting people you don’t know.

    Comment by Vilon — August 24, 2006 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  29. I’m not going to apologize from you, nor did I try to. If that’s what you’re waiting for, keep waiting. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go hang around with some people you would probably categorize as “people who don’t matter”.

    I give you proof with the only way possible by giving you online my resume and what does he say? He insults one more time.

    You didn’t give “proof”. You gave “look how succesful and smart I am!” (and probably modest, too. LOL.)

    Get a life and stop insulting people you don’t know.

    Hello, pot. I’m kettle.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 24, 2006 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  30. I give you proof with the only way possible by giving you online my resume and what does he say?

    That is, if one is to accept the “I’m well-placed so I know classified stuff you proles don’t” as a legitimate argument, one should then start accepting it all the way: From Bush administration etc.

    I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that appeal to authority is usually categorized as a logical fallacy.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 24, 2006 @ 12:42 pm | Reply

  31. Um, guys, can I request that we not get into a flame war here? In particular I really wish that Tuomas had not said this:

    You are piece of work, Vilon. For obvious reasons, I won’t criticize you on your rudeness, so I will just focus on how full of shit you are.

    Criticism of Vilon’s argumentation is justified, but if you’re going to frame it as an ad hom, then at least be funny about it.

    Comment by Daran — August 24, 2006 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  32. Yes. Be more like me! I am the very model of a modern blogging commenter.

    Comment by bobhayes — August 24, 2006 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  33. Yeah, Daran. I’ll quit. Temper gets the best of me every now and then.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 24, 2006 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  34. Crossposted with the Carcer Troll creature Robert/bobhayes, btw. ;)

    Comment by Tuomas — August 24, 2006 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  35. I was a little bit concerned that someone thought that was my MO. Then I saw it was R. Mildred. Never mind.

    Comment by bobhayes — August 24, 2006 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  36. Wow. Quite sad. Just look at what I initially wrote and you will not wonder why I will never write here again. I just hope other contributors are not as bad as you guys.

    Comment by Vilon — August 24, 2006 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  37. It’s just a matter of time before marketers start advertising EVERYWHERE. The fact is, new mediums are created as technology advances. First there were the TV/radios, now the internet, cellphones, PDAs… just more mediums for advertisers to utilize.

    Comment by used college textbooks — February 26, 2007 @ 5:22 pm | Reply


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