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The Ads Don't Stop

By scarabic in Op-Ed
Thu May 06, 2004 at 07:20:45 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

On Monday I stopped into the post office. The United States Postal Service office. Federally-run. You know. The red-white-and-blue shipping company.

I was stunned to see Shrek 2 cross-marketing everywhere. A huge orange poster describing April as national "write-a-letter" month featured Princess Fiona swooning over a love letter from Shrek. The jive-talking donkey winked at me from the shipping rates/times table above the counter, which featured the quip: 'we haul it fast.' [hoho!]

I guess it's an inevitable consequence of the Postal Service being spun off as an independent business unit that sooner or later, the spaces inside it would be sold off for marketing dollar. It's just the last place I expect to be inundated with 'see-our-movie' marketing but as time goes by, no space is kept sacred from advertising. It will likely get worse. Can you see it now: the golden-arches postage stamp?

Advertisers have systematically compartmentalized our experience of the world moment to moment, identified the "spaces" that we're aware of, and set about injecting marketing material into all of them. It used to be that ads were restricted to billboards and other obvious "bought" spaces, but the generous ad budgets of major corporations have convinced more and more people to sell spaces more and more interwoven with our daily lives.

Remember when there were no ads on top of taxis? On the sides of buses? Remember when there were no coupons on the back of grocery receipts? Remember when there was no ad on the handle of the damn gas pump? Remember when there were no fucking SUV ads on the big screen before a movie? Now, as I stand at the grocery checkout, I hold up my ATM card to swipe it through the reader, and I see, even there, in the tiny blue letters of the readout, the message: "GOT ICE?"

When I was a kid, the scoreboard over the basketball court at the Oakland Coliseum had a Toyota logo on it. I'm sure that decades before, the scoreboard had just been a scoreboard. But some smartass finally figured out that tens of thousands of people look at it dozens of times in an hour a couple of days a week, and sold it to Toyota. Still, the logo was unobtrusive. Just kinda there. And if the revenue improved the stadium... eh. So much the better I guess.

Of course, it's not even the Oakland Coliseum anymore. It's the Network Associates Coliseum. Catchy, ain't it? Pretty much every stadium is named after some fucking corporation now, and everything but the paint on the court swirls into corporate logos as you look around. The mini-lightboard that shows the score one second will say "Bud Light" the next, and no fewer than half a dozen "sponsors" somehow get their names read out by the announcer at every game:

"Tonight's 3rd quarter is sponsored by Ford. Test drive a new Excursion today!" [horn sounds, signaling resumption of play]

There are already ads on baseball players uniforms, but now that ads are going to start appearing on the bases at major games, I'm sure the paint on a basketball court can't be far behind.

In the case of the baseball bases, you have to wonder what they're thinking. Those things are small, covered in dirt most of the time, and too far away from anyone to serve as effective ads. I'm sure the television cameras will invent new angles to accommodate them, and I'm sure they'll be swept clean in between every pitch by some little boy who'll run out from the sidelines, akin to the tennis-match ball retrievers. But the reason the ads on bases will really catch eyes is that the bases are so sacred. They punctuate the action in the Great American Pastime. They form the fabled diamond. The fates of giants have been decided within their meager confines, and between their borders the happiness or despair of countless millions has been decided.

It's the very sacrilege itself that will make them work. They're counting on that, because objectively, as spaces, the little white squares don't offer much. But imagine the implicit approval an ad client gets by being on the fucking bases fer gad's sake. Think about it with a 10-year-old's mind for a second. I mean, McDonald's must be better than Burger King if the NBA is willing to put the golden arches right there on the ball, right?

Unfortunately, most people don't have the brains to see it the right way around. Instead of seeing the ad as debasing the sacred space, they see the sacred space as elevating the product in the ad. This is the whole reason why this goes on. I don't know how much worse it has to get before people's minds flip. Probably a long way. Americans love products. They love deals. They shop to live and live to shop. It might be some time before enough of them find enough in life besides buying and selling to care about.

Apparently jockeys riding in the Kentucky Derby can now wear ads on their uniforms. What's next? Stenciling the Chevron logo in paint on the horse's ass?

What is next, actually? It's not a rhetorical question. Can we even dare to imagine ads on school buses? Apparently, several Florida school districts can. Ads on ambulances, anyone?

So what? some say. It's just a little marketing message. The Spider Man movie is going to be great. What's wrong with putting a little red and blue on the bases?

Space is the operative metaphor here. As more and more ad spaces are identified and capitalized, our mental landscape becomes more and more crowded with sales pitches and brand war missives. There is a reason we haven't turned every inch of real estate in our country over to commercial interests, and it's the same reason we should keep some open spaces in our perceptual landscape: it's healthy for us. We keep parks and open spaces intact because they allow us to punctuate our cities and states with interstices of calm, beauty, nature, amid our hectic, sprawling manufactured existences.

My girlfriend and I went up to Mendocino last year and spent the weekend in a cottage. We didn't realize it right away, but there were no ads to be seen anywhere in the entire area, and no chain stores either. Even the gas station was an independent. We went up there to get away, to take a break. To be alone together. And it did add something to be away from the corporate media machine. The last person you want to have around on a romantic getaway with your girlfriend is Ronald McFuckingDonald.

Open spaces are important. Wetlands and forests serve vital roles in keeping our air and water clean, providing a filtering buffer between us and the pollutants of industry. Businesses are zoned into specific areas where they are allowed to pawn their wares. This protects the investments residents have made in their homes, as well as the peace and quiet of the lives they try to lead there. This is tried-and-true good sense.

Live within a block of a major grocery store sometime and you'll see what it means to live in a space that's been compromised to commerce. Day and night, 18-wheel trucks will rattle your windows on their way to drop off tomorrow's milk. As the 40-foot SAFEWAY logo scrolls by, taking up the entirety of your living room window, and things begin to fall off your mantle from the vibration, you will begin to dream of moving elsewhere. ordinary life and commerce need to have space between. Physical space and perceptual space. They're bound, but they're not one and the same. And if anything, commerce should serve ordinary life, not the other way around.

As our thoughts and values and associations become more inextricably intertwined with and constituted from corporate messages, we lose ourselves, our identities. Advertisers play on anything that we value. They will take any positive association we have, and turn it toward their product. That's what they do. They've turned our love of family into our love of minivans. They've turned our love of the outdoors into our love of flowery air fresheners. They've turned our love of sex into our love of soda pop, jeans, bad music, fast cars, countless fitness products, alcohol, you name it.

In other words, they debase what we love, they manipulate our most fundamental aspirations and urges. They sell anything that's close to our hearts to a client who may or may not have the best interests of our hearts in mind. Probably, they don't.

Culturally, this is a cancer. You cannot hope to thrive as a society if you let business interests dictate your culture. Cultures grow organically out of generations of trial and error, relating to one another, looking back at tradition and looking ahead to the future. They grow slowly and require care. They make missteps but over time they grow healthy and teach us how to live better, how to live longer, how to live together.

Okay, perhaps advertisers don't have the power to dictate culture, but they have the budget to hire the best talent in the world, the budget to make us laugh, the budget to make us cry, the budget to make Christina Aguilera fake an orgasm. They bought Michael Jackson. They bought Britney. They sell us with Led Zeppelin and Martin Luther King and James Bond and the goddamn Shrek Donkey. Anything that will make the corners of our mouth turn up into a smile long enough for them to slip a spoonful of product in between them.

They buy everyone who's already got your ear, and everywhere your eye already goes. It's becoming impossible to participate in American culture without being programmed to buy this or that at the same time. And I mean this in the worst way possible when I say: what could be more American than that?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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Related Links
o ads on baseball players uniforms
o on the bases
o can now wear ads
o ads on school buses
o Ads on ambulances, anyone?
o make Christina Aguilera fake an orgasm
o Also by scarabic

Display: Sort:
The Ads Don't Stop | 202 comments (174 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
This is old news (2.84 / 13) (#1)
by Altus on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:13:58 PM EST

5 years ago, hell almost 6 now.... (thats a long time)

a friend of mine and I were driving to work when we passed the local school.

the little configurable sign infront of the school read:


after that, 6 years ago, its been pretty hard to be surprised by advertising in places where it realy shouldnt be

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson

How crazy. (none / 3) (#20)
by scarabic on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:55:50 PM EST

I think it's particularly sad when insufficient funding for education leads to more marketing messages in front of children. It's just a personal belief, but I think their education should take place in an environment that's protected from sales pitches.

[ Parent ]
Ever read "Jennifer Government"? (1.60 / 5) (#30)
by kitten on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:03:53 PM EST

That's what this entire story, and the parent comment here, reminded me of.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Jennifer Govt. (none / 0) (#90)
by Insoc on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:17:17 AM EST

I must say, I really liked that book. Kinda put a complete 180 on the old dystopias where the government has all the power.

[ Parent ]
Funding (none / 3) (#76)
by kurioszyn on Thu May 06, 2004 at 07:53:16 AM EST

Insufficient funding ?
Are you sure about that ?

[ Parent ]

That's all fine and good... (none / 3) (#166)
by HardwareLust on Sat May 08, 2004 at 12:23:50 AM EST

I don't have kids, and I'm never going to have any.  That's a conscious choice on my part.  

Frankly, if we can use advertising to pay for education, then I'm all for it.  Anything that will help take fewer dollars out of my pocket to pay for your kid's education sounds good to me.  

You are the one that choose to have kids, so you should be the one to pay for it, not me.  Or, come up with an alternative funding source; like advertising.  Sounds like a fine idea to me.

If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

[ Parent ]

YOU got an education, I assume... (none / 0) (#190)
by Dephex Twin on Mon May 10, 2004 at 10:30:53 PM EST

so what is so unfair about putting a small amount of your tax dollars back into the system that you benefitted from?  Your childhood might have been a lot different if your parents had to fund your entire education themselves.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
that's half the point (2.16 / 6) (#2)
by aphrael on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:17:08 PM EST

in the movie _minority report_. and in _ai_, for that matter.

What do you mean? (1.66 / 6) (#3)
by i on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:18:13 PM EST

You don't have ads on basketball courts? Fantastic.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

Culture (2.92 / 14) (#5)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed May 05, 2004 at 05:35:09 PM EST

You cannot hope to thrive as a society if you let business interests dictate your culture

Nothing has ever influenced culture more than business interests. Cities, transportation systems, even your daily routine, all obey business interests. Isn't your job a part of your culture? Most of us spend 40 hours of our week having our lives dictated by business interests. Clearly capitalism has something to offer us. There's no better way of enabling humans to cooperate with each other than offering them a financial benefit.

Be careful about nostalgia, was it really better back then? I realize that you start out talking specifically about advertising, but by the end you're saying "Ordinary life and commerce need to have space between," as if there was ever a time when the two were separate.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

You didn't take it far enough. (2.40 / 5) (#10)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed May 05, 2004 at 06:56:40 PM EST

Given that your very life depends on being able to lay hands on at least a certain amount of money, and your chosen lifestyle probably depends on even more money, everything in your life is either a "business interest" or depends on your "business interests".

And it's been that way every since Bob Farmer and Joe Hunter realized they could brighten their lives by swapping bread for meat.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

point taken (none / 3) (#19)
by scarabic on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:53:27 PM EST

I mean, you can't separate business from life when business is our bread and butter. It's true. Really, all I was looking at was the increasing encroachment of advertising messages on the perceptual spaces around us. "Nothing has ever influenced culture more than business interests." Definitely true, and never moreso than now! I think it's wise to look around and assess from time to time. Any suggestions on how I can make this argument more convincingly?

[ Parent ]
eh? (none / 0) (#107)
by mormon on Thu May 06, 2004 at 12:56:42 PM EST

I think it's wise to look around and assess from time to time. Any suggestions on how I can make this argument more convincingly?

I really don't think you can make that argument more convincing. I'm pretty sure everyone's already convinced that you think it's wise to look around and assess from time to time.

[ Parent ]
I think he's onto something (2.83 / 6) (#113)
by Deagol on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:17:40 PM EST

you cannot hope to thrive as a society if you let business interests dictate your culture

Nothing has ever influenced culture more than business interests.

True, but I think he means that businesses acting in thier own interests are often to the detriment of society. You seem to speak as this is an inevitability -- and a good one, at that (the business influence, not the detriment, I mean).

One local example to illustrate my point.

I recently went to purchase some hay for our cow. The man I bought it from was a former dairyman. Being new in cow ownership, I chatted with him for a while, and he was glad to talk.

He lamented the loss of raw milk (versus pasturized, homogenized milk) as a staple and viable business. "Dead milk" he called it. Having sampled a gallon of raw milk from the man who sold us our cow, I had to agree with that assessment.

Like many newfangled processed products, such as white bleached flower or refined sugar, homogenized milk was at one time a fad that differenciated social classes or fashionable from the not-so-fashionable. If anyone's ever seen raw milk -- even after the cream has been skimmed off -- it tends to stratify a bit, appearing somewhat unsightly as compared to homogenized stuff we're used to. While I haven't seen any to back my claim, I'm sure there were adds in women's magazines playing up the benefits of homogenization.

The guy was no Luddite backwoods hick, either. He sported a cell phone and whipped out a palm pilot to add another hay-buying customer to his existing contacts. He also kept up with the industry journals, and cited several articles about the health benefits of raw milk (or, more accurately, the dangers of homogenzed milk). It seems that the fat solids in raw cow's milk is naturally too large to pass through some membrane barrier easily. However, homogenized milk has much smaller fat solids, making them more readily absorbed in our systems. This is, allegedly, a factor in high (bad) cholesterol in people.

So, along with white sugar and flour, homogenized milk became another chink in our diet contributing to bad health.

Then came pasturization. (Actually, I don't know which came first, but it was later in our little chat.) It was the next big thing. Probably pushed as health issue. Think of the children! :)

"Doesn't pasturized milk store longer?" I asked. Pasturization, to me, seemed a wise precaution.

"No, not really," he said. "The stuff we kept lasted as long, if not longer, than pasturized milk. And pasturized milk rots when it goes bad. Raw milk just starts to sour, at which point you make sourdough or buttermilk."

Taken literally I think he's wrong, as true sourdough and buttermilk are not make with milk -- I won't waste space here on this -- but I knew what he meant, and he is right. And I had to admit that the gallon of sample raw milk I had did last a couple of weeks in the fridge with no ill effects, longer than I had expected.

I guess that raw milk sellers must have been a problem for the large milk producers, because they lobbied for (and received) legislation that mandated that raw milk have the same -- or lower -- coliform count as pasturized milk if it were to be sold to the public. I guess that's a tough thing to do, so it was essentially a way to outlaw raw milk without doing so outright.

My new mentor said that he ran one of the few dairies that could meet that standard with raw milk, due to his clean, well-run operation. I assume the other dairies either started pasturizing to reduce costs or just went under like most similar family-run agricultural endeavors. So he had people coming from as far as a hundred miles in every direction to buy his raw milk. Eventually, he sold off his stock when his kids went off to school and began raising hay instead. People from all around were dissapointed, as he was the last source of that good wholesome milk.

So, assuming he is correct in his two claims, "business interests" influenced our culture (people's perceptions through ads, and through legislation), and while they benefitted, we as a people lost yet another wholesome part of life.

Yes, that's just the account of one (admittedly biased) man. I'm sure someone can cite evidence to the contrary. But there are many cases of industry mucking up relatively good things in the name of cost reduction. Sure, in the capitolistic sense, you can't blame them. You can even try ot blame people for being "weak" (as one poster bitched about above). But when "business interests" so heavily influence the media and the laws of the land, it's bound to bite us in the ass at some point.

[ Parent ]

The key (none / 3) (#140)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:00:02 PM EST

It's an interesting story, but the key is corporate influence over government. I'm fine with people drinking raw milk, pasteurized milk, or raw sewage if they choose to, but once you start making laws that are in the interests of business instead of the rights of people, that's when things start getting messed up.

This reminds me of the sugar meme: The US has tariffs on importation of sugar, so all the processed food uses domestic corn syrup instead of cane sugar. That's true, but some people say that corn syrup causes more obesity than regular sugar. I don't know if that's true, but it still illustrates a problem with corporate influence over laws. I don't have a problem with companies trying to sell corn syrup, but once they start lobbying to have the government strike down the competition it's an issue.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Where do you draw the line? (none / 0) (#192)
by MMcP on Tue May 11, 2004 at 10:44:23 PM EST

When I go to the supermarket of the future I would love to have the choice of whether to buy raw or pasturized milk - that is a choice with obvious pros and cons.  So then I'd have to read up on both kinds of milk, make my choice wisely based not only on taste but perceived health benefit etc.  Basically learn all I can and then make the choice.  

Where does this get me?  an hour or two spent making a wise decision about which milk to drink.  I'd love to spent that amount of time learning about milk because I love food.  Most people in this day and age have no time to make decisions like that.  For good or for bad, either so they can get home to tell their kids they love them or just to watch 4 hours of "Law 'N' Order," people sometimes don't have time to learn to make wise decisions.  So they rely on advertising - they don't go to the "information," it comes to them.  They feel happy making a "wise" decision without working at all to make it.  

What should be done?  I believe that advertising should die a horrible death.  Although I cannot back it up I believe advertising by its very nature manipulates people without their consent and may lead to mental health problems.  I would love the government to loosen up when it comes to telling people exactly what to do.  I don't mean sanction products that WILL kill you RIGHT NOW but to allow borderline products to be sold with a we-told-you-so warning and to make available to every man woman and child relevent, scientific information about what said product will/won't/might do to you.  No bullshit, just bullet points highlighting the real important facts and direct access to the real data that shows why they say this.  

So, in this hypothetical realm, a person wanting to make the choice between raw/processed milk could, possibly in the store, look up the relevent information and get five or six bullet points having to do with taste, health and whatever the hell else might be important in this case.  Illegal items would get the exact same treatment - the Government telling us exactly why this priduct is illegal.  

What is the problem with living in this utopia of information?  Education.  The government cannot trust people to make choices because they receive low-quality education against their will.  

That's all I have to say about that.  

[ Parent ]

Don't give up (none / 0) (#194)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed May 12, 2004 at 09:57:59 AM EST

You're essentially giving up on people and their ability to make informed decisions. You're also saying that you trust the government to tell us what to think and believe, more than you trust corporations. This is a dangerous opinion. I don't trust the government for much of anything, and I certainly wouldn't want to ban advertising and replace it with government propaganda.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#195)
by MMcP on Wed May 12, 2004 at 10:52:55 AM EST

I'm trying to be a realist.  People want everything - to make an informed decision and not to waste any energy making it.  I would like to speed up and inform the decision making process, not to make decisions for people.  

As for calling this idea propaganda, I see propaganda as being based on lies and manipulation (advertising).  Advertising influences peoples decisions by flashing bright colors and attractive ladies.  The imaginary system I am talking about would enable people to make their own decisions quickly based on FACTS.  

[ Parent ]

Who watches it? (none / 0) (#197)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed May 12, 2004 at 12:10:13 PM EST

Who watches the watchers? If the government is supposedly watching out for your best interests, and there is no competing voice (advertising is banned remember), what's to stop them from controlling you through propaganda? I don't see any reason to trust that the government would stick to the facts. For most products there aren't even any facts. Just look at the whole Atkins craze right now. Is a cheeseburger bad for you? I say it is, but loads of people say the bun is worse than the fatty meat. What would the government say? It's impossible to present the facts in an unbiased manner.

Corporate advertising is by definition not propaganda. Propaganda is only a tool of the government. The fact that ads are persuasive doesn't make them propaganda, and government speech doesn't have to be deceptive in order to fit the definition. Any time the government wants to persuade the public with speech, that's propaganda.

Free speech is more important than this. The government's most important job is protecting everyone's rights. You have a right to say anything you want. However you don't have a right to live free of annoyances, and you certainly don't have a right to forcefully silence people whose opinions may confuse you. As you alluded to before, education is the solution to advertising. Not censorship.

I also want to point out something I forgot to say before. You mention that ads cause mental illness, but I'd like to expand that and say that modern life causes mental illness. Sedentary lifestyles cause depression, technology causes us to feel disconnected, an abundance of food turns us into overeaters. These are sacrifices that we're willing to make. Life is better than it ever has been. If you're arguing that ads should be banned because you say they cause mental illness, you'd better ban all technology with them.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Propaganda: (none / 1) (#200)
by MMcP on Wed May 12, 2004 at 06:52:48 PM EST

Information, ideas, opinions or images, often only giving one part of an argument, which are broadcast, published or in some other way spread with the intention of influencing people's opinions.

I would say that people have the right to be able to make informed decisions.  Right now the government isn't respecting those rights at all.  Remember the Surgeon General who wanted to educate people on masturbation?  Gone.  If the government simply became a portal to the important information that a person needs to make a decision I would be ecstatic.  If the government had scientific backing when it came to its decisions I would be beyond ecstatic.  If the government learned to be patient and think in the long term I would get so excited I would have to sit down for a minute.  

Like I said before, I only suspect constant advertising inflames mental illness - I have no scientific backing.  As a person who, in my own estimate, is more sensitive to advertising and the effects thereof, I find it almost impossible to exersize my assumed right not to see any of it.  Giving up TV was easy enough but the biggest problem I have is driving - when I get close to a big city I have to make constant conscious effort not to jerk my head away from the road and read those signs (more proof I'm not the best driver in the world).  I believe I have the right to a safer driving environment and therefore to not have to endure those fucking signs.  

[ Parent ]

Bland uniformity over quality. (nt) (none / 0) (#167)
by Zerotime on Sat May 08, 2004 at 02:32:45 AM EST

"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
Small problem. (2.75 / 12) (#13)
by Kyle on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:10:18 PM EST

From your article:

When I go into the post office, I want to feel like I own the place. It's a governement institution, I'm a taxpayer. Simple.

From "Setting the record straight":

The tax payers don't own the United States Postal Service as Mr. Dembart states. It is true that we were mandated to operate as a business and it is true that we are a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States federal government. By 1981, our operations were no longer funded by tax payer dollars and we began self-supporting the organization through the sale of stamps and stamp-related products.

My mom, a postal worker, snickers when she hears someone complain about the Postal Service and say, "I'm a taxpayer, by gosh." The USPS isn't paid for by taxes.

I stopped reading after you made that mistake. Also, you misspelled government.

Good call. (2.25 / 4) (#15)
by scarabic on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:45:14 PM EST

This thought was nagging at me even as I wrote this. Thanks for correcting me.

[ Parent ]
wrong, USPS heavily subsidzed by US taxpayer (3.00 / 10) (#24)
by khallow on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:23:32 PM EST

You neglected the little detail that no one else can compete with USGS in their particular business (first class mail). It's illegal. That little subsidy, worth billions of dollars each year, was given to them by the US taxpayer.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

See the change (none / 3) (#26)
by scarabic on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:30:15 PM EST

I tried to accomodate this issue in a more flexible way in a recent edit. Check it out and tell me if you think it's okay.

[ Parent ]
looking good (nt) (none / 1) (#27)
by khallow on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:40:35 PM EST

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

That's a subsidy? (2.85 / 7) (#33)
by Kyle on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:20:41 PM EST

I admit, I didn't know that the USPS has a government-granted monopoly in first class mail, though it does sound familiar now that you mention it. Still, I'm not sure I'd call that a subsidy since it doesn't involve any money.

A better argument is here:

The USPS does get some taxpayer support. Around $96 million is budgeted annually by Congress for the "Postal Service Fund." These funds are used to compensate USPS for postage-free mailing for all legally blind persons and for mail-in election ballots sent from US citizens living overseas. A portion of the funds also pays USPS for providing address information to state and local child support enforcement agencies, and for keeping some rural posts offices in operation.

Still, that looks like services that a private company wouldn't provide.

In any case, what does it cost the tax payers that there's no competition? I find it hard to believe that a private company could ship first class for less than 37 cents, especially considering the law also states that the USPS is not to make a profit (it's mandated to be "revenue-neutral").

It's an interesting critter. Thanks for prompting me to look at it more closely.

[ Parent ]

yes, a subsidy (2.57 / 7) (#36)
by adimovk5 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:07:45 PM EST

A subsidy doesn't have to be a gift of money. It can also be the grant of special privilege. In this case, the US government has given the USPS a grant. The USPS has the right to all first class mail. That allows the USPS to charge the rate it wishes without regard to competition. (Rates are set by the Board of Governors.) The USPS doesn't have to worry about competition undercutting its prices.

[ Parent ]
meaning of subsidy (3.00 / 6) (#81)
by khallow on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:29:07 AM EST

I admit, I didn't know that the USPS has a government-granted monopoly in first class mail, though it does sound familiar now that you mention it. Still, I'm not sure I'd call that a subsidy since it doesn't involve any money.

In practice, there's no difference between giving someone a privilege worth a few billion dollars and paying that party the equivalent amount of money in cash. I believe I use "subsidy" in the standard way in economics when I describe a grant that has monetary value a "subsidy".

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Of course (none / 1) (#101)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:57:14 AM EST

Not only could private companies compete with USPS, they could put USPS into the ground. This is basic economics. Artificial monopolies are inefficient because they don't have any competition. USPS has no shareholders to answer to, no other businesses to compete with, only a government mandate to deliver mail anywhere. Because of this there are thousands of little-used post offices. Rural and hard to reach customers cost us a disproportionate amount of USPS money to support. This is just one example of USPS inefficiency.

Why wouldn't a private company be able to compete with the USPS for first class mail? If FedEx moved the same volume as USPS, a first class letter would probably cost 10 cents to send and it'd go from coast to coast in 2 days. An artificial monopoly means there's no incentive to compete.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Compete? (none / 3) (#105)
by thejeff on Thu May 06, 2004 at 12:51:10 PM EST

You state it yourself, though you skip the obvious conclusion.

If Fedex competed with USPS for first class mail, it would cost 10 cents to send coast to coast in 2 days , but it would also cost $3 and take 2 weeks to get to East Nowhere, Texas, if they delivered there at all.

Maybe that's a fair trade off for you, but it is a real trade off. It was even more so earlier in our history, when there weren't really other ways to communicate long distance.

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 1) (#139)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:50:50 PM EST

That may be the trade-off, and if it is, I'm OK with that. You're free to live in the middle of nowhere, but I don't think taxpayers should have to subsidize your basic services such as mail, phone, and broadband. Does the government subsidize my insane rent if I choose to live in Manhattan? Why should they subsidize a farmer's mail or phone service?

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
ah, silly question.... (none / 0) (#158)
by ckaminski on Fri May 07, 2004 at 04:27:08 PM EST

so that FARMER can grow the FOOD that you EAT.

:-)  Can't do that in Manhattan.


[ Parent ]

Pay more (none / 1) (#183)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun May 09, 2004 at 12:18:13 PM EST

I'm prepared to pay slightly more for my food in return for not having to pay for his post office.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Illegal (none / 3) (#53)
by grouse on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:45:02 AM EST

Can you please substantiate your claim by identifying the law or laws that prevent UPS or FedEx from providing identical services?


You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

You're welcome! (3.00 / 5) (#80)
by khallow on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:18:48 AM EST

A web search indicates this is usually mentioned in passing. Here's a good description of the monopoly. I see better detail on the laws granting monopoly here (wikipedia) and here (US government publication).

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Thanks again [nt] (none / 0) (#98)
by grouse on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:32:51 AM EST

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

The fact that . . . (none / 1) (#93)
by Dphitz on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:28:18 AM EST

only the USPS can put mail in your mailbox should suffice as proof.

God, please save me . . . from your followers

[ Parent ]
I don't see what stops you from having (none / 0) (#97)
by grouse on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:31:51 AM EST

a UPS mailbox. Or a FedEx mailbox. Although apparently it would be illegal to send this mail for less than $3.

You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs
[ Parent ]

USPS partially subsidized (2.66 / 6) (#35)
by adimovk5 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:54:23 PM EST

As a part of the federal government, the USPS is allowed to participate in federaly funded programs such as:
  • Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program
  • federal retirement program
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
  • Social Security and Medicare
  • Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance
Competitors such as Federal Express and UPS don't have similar access to these federally subsidized programs.


[ Parent ]

this post is brought to you by nike (1.00 / 11) (#14)
by RelliK on Wed May 05, 2004 at 07:30:12 PM EST

didn't you know that it's your patriotic duty to consume? the bush told me so.
Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism it's just the opposite.
heh (2.71 / 7) (#23)
by reklaw on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:13:55 PM EST

Reminds me of that time I read "No Logo", by Naomi Klein -- ads absolutely everywhere. The "no space" section explores what you're talking about in a lot more depth. It's a bit painful to read, though, just because of the amount of detail she goes into.

Really, though, ads are the price you pay for capitalism, and more broadly a result of human nature. If there's no message somewhere or other to tell people to use a service or buy a product, then most people just won't do it. It's the reason why people do things like go to big electronics stores instead of the independent place round the corner that's more friendly and  has everything cheaper. Sad, but true.

Analysis of an advertised product (3.00 / 8) (#48)
by Kasreyn on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:42:32 AM EST

First off: ads are how companies that make crappy or useless products stay in business.

You don't see many peppy ads on TV urging people to eat bread, or get roofs over their heads. Why? Because all people already want those things. They have intrinsic value.

Now let's examine a typical packaged, advertised corporate product I buy: Pillsbury "Toaster Scrambles". Yes, I am a corporate whore. I am also a goddamned lazy idiot who can't be bothered to take a fucking minute and feed himself something nutritious. The blame is thoroughly on myself, so don't even start.

But let's examine this product. Do I need it? No. A thousand other products could provide me with breakfast, many cheaper, many more nutritious, and I could even do without breakfast. Now let's see how it's advertised. Its advertisements bill it as a homecooked breakfast stuffed inside a pastry, with commercials with smiling housewives and happy kids and a cutesy animated Doughboy giggling. Everything is cheerful in this world.

Flash back to the real world. I don't know where these "toaster pastries" are manufactured, but I'd assume that it's not very likely that a smiling mom baked it fresh in her kitchen. Rather, a bored person who probably does not speak any English pushed a button on a mixing machine causing it to squirt ground up meat by-product (artifically bacon and sausage flavored) and cheese-flavored sauce (read a Hot Pocket sometime, that's what they call it!) into a pastry folded by another machine. This person probably gets paid from 5-7 an hour, unless he's not in the USA, in which case probably something like 20 cents an hour. He is decidedly NOT happy to be making me breakfast.

All this labor and effort and processing involved, when they could have just sold me a plastic container with the ingredients and I could have eaten them unassembled, or whatever. What I pay the $2.17 or whatever in Winn-Dixie for is mostly to pay for Pillsbury's ad budget, marketing department, and all the labor involved in making this hugely unneccessary thing at a great waste of human effort.

Now I'm not going to say that a more basic product, like the loaf of Roman Meal bread I also got, is somehow "pure" of advertisement. But there isn't the same image selling mechanism in place to make me want it, because they know I'm already going to WANT bread. All they need to do is make their bread more attractive than other bread-makers' bread.

Manufacturing desire, or rather twisting it to new purposes like Hercules cleaning out the stables with a river. Desire for sex is transformed into desire for beer, since drinking beer leads to having sex with lovely women. And so on.

In general, the more advertised a product is, the less valuable it is, since value speaks for itself. Therefore, the more heavily anything is advertised, the more heavily I avoid buying it. (Except when I am weak, a la "Toaster Scrambles") And so should you.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
yuck, those things will kill you. (none / 3) (#96)
by ethereal on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:31:40 AM EST

Now Hostess Fruit Pies - there's a breakfast that will keep you going. Often several years after clinical death (little known fact).


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

heh. ^_^ -nt (none / 0) (#104)
by Kasreyn on Thu May 06, 2004 at 12:21:37 PM EST

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Oh, the memories of high school... (none / 0) (#132)
by Sanction on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:22:19 PM EST

Fruit pies are very unbalanced as a breakfast, you really need some peanut butter cups and a coke to round it out.  I wish I could still eat like that...

I can either stay in and be annoying or go out and be stupid. The choice is yours.
[ Parent ]
ad resistance (2.50 / 10) (#28)
by khallow on Wed May 05, 2004 at 08:48:08 PM EST

I see a silver lining in this cloud. Namely, we build up ad resistance. Those who rely on marketing rather than quality products will reach diminishing returns as they spend more and more trying to reach the small pool of gullible people who still have money.

This remarkable, insightful post brought to you by Pepsi. Buy our cheap, brown, sugar water not their cheap, brown, sugar water!

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Advertising is Pollution (3.00 / 13) (#38)
by ewhac on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:24:32 PM EST

I see a silver lining in this cloud. Namely, we build up ad resistance. [ ... ]

Yes, but what will be the collateral damage? That is, what will an individual's ad filters also knock out that might otherwise be considered worthwhile?

The film Minority Report flirted with the concept of personalized ads -- billboards that scan your retina and call out your name. Once you have your name called out enough times by intrusive automata, you'll start to filter it out... Until one day, you stop responding to your own name, because someone might be trying to waste your time selling you something. I don't think that's a useful or positive result.

So let me try and introduce a new meme: Advertising is pollution. It's a useless, unwanted article in the info-sphere, which consumes space and time, and requires energy to classify and dispose of. And the energy consumed is never that of the sender, but always that of the recipient. In other words, you are paying (with your energy) for advertisers to pollute your info-sphere.

Once it's seen as pollution, proposing solutions becomes much more straightforward.

Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.
[ Parent ]

It's probably possible to study, now (3.00 / 5) (#43)
by jongleur on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:57:03 PM EST

Exactly, it breaks into your attention (by design); a thousand ads, a thousand unrelated subjects.  I thought I'd read in Adbusters, some link between it and depression but I wasn't able to find that exactly on their website.

I like your idea of tackling it as pollution though - nowadays I'm sure you could study the effects of exposure to some number of ads per time period and watch its effects on brain chemistry and mental performance.  Getting hard numbers always makes an issue harder to push aside.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

easy logical jump (2.75 / 4) (#46)
by Fuzzwah on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:21:00 AM EST

Advertising constantly reminds people of what they don't have in life, this makes them depressed.

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

Take it to the conclusion (2.75 / 4) (#84)
by 87C751 on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:39:37 AM EST

Advertising then shows people how [insert product name here] will make their lives complete, thus curing the depression brought on by the first part of the pitch. I wrote an article about this last year.

My ranting place.
[ Parent ]

This has already occurred. (none / 1) (#92)
by ethereal on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:27:48 AM EST

Once you have your name called out enough times by intrusive automata, you'll start to filter it out... Until one day, you stop responding to your own name, because someone might be trying to waste your time selling you something.

We deal with this every day when policing our inboxes. The stronger the filter, the more likely you'll ignore someone that you really do want to receive email from.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

I like this idea. (none / 2) (#154)
by sophacles on Fri May 07, 2004 at 02:29:23 PM EST

Once it's seen as pollution, proposing solutions becomes much more straightforward.

I actully sometimes like ads though. Usually I just see them as annoying or a waste of space, but sometimes an ad will catch my attention.  This is because the product advertised just happens to be what I am already looking for.  Without ads, we wouldn't have any product awareness, and those of us that don't have the skills would just assume that the solution to a problem is either impractical or impossible.

I don't think that the ads should anywhere near as pervasive as they are, but they should exist somehow.  For instance Freshmeat and Pricewatch are just big advertisements.  The nice thing about them is, they inherently limit their viewership to people who are interested in similar products. I don't have the vocabulary to accurately say what I am thinking, so I will provide an example, and hopefully it will be sufficient to get my point across.

I am currently working on writing a database to keep a list of my books, where they are, and notes/thoughts I have regarding them.  It is more or less designed with certain features in mind that will work the way I think.  Otherwise I could just use some sort of solution that already exists.

One day I was browsing freshmeat, and I ran across a listing (advertisement) for some similar item.  It had code in it to look up books online.  Bingo, I found a product that would help me do what I want, and I didn't really even know it existed.  This is the usefullness of advertising.  Had that product been advertised on television during a movie, I would have just been annoyed.

I guess the whole point of this post can be boiled down to, avoid an advertising witch hunt mentality. Ads are actully relevant and useful in some contexts.  A good policy needs to be implemented to restrict them to appropriate contexts. Think yellow pages and similar.

[ Parent ]

Unfortunately, (2.81 / 11) (#47)
by Kasreyn on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:23:09 AM EST

gullible people are a renewable resource. "There's one born every minute"...

Also, an advertising culture *trains* people, when children, to be gullible. It trains them to not think critically, to not be skeptical, to allow appeals to emotion and wildly exaggerated and unsupported claims to go by uncontested because they go down so smooth and sickly-sweet.

Advertising doesn't just feed on the gullible. It factory farms them.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Ah, but they've thought of that already (2.95 / 20) (#49)
by fenix down on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:52:00 AM EST

They know we've built up resistance.

We built up resistance to the early ads, where the company sponsored the show and cut in every hour or so, and the engineer from Ford would come out and explain what was so good about this new engine they've got for 5 minutes.  We learned to blot it out.  So they moved to more and more abstract ads.

Now we're at the point where ads have reached a level of absurdity that they're only identifiable about half the time anymore.  We have Subway ads using the "We Love the Moon" song.  We have ads for a car that tries to disguise the identity of the company that manufactures it, and pretends it's ads are filmed by amateur fans of the vehicle.  Right now there are literally thousands of people on IRC being paid to act cool for 5 minutes to establish an identity and then work some product into the conversation as subtlely as possible.  If you go to Times Square outside the MTV window at least 10 of the people in that crowd of imbeciles will be actors pretending to be fans of new bands in an attempt to get real kids to draft off them, or actors with instructions to demonstrate a cell phone and mention the name as often as possible, or actors who will have extremely loud conversations with eachother about their new Volkswagen Beatle convertibles.

MTV isn't even just a 24/7 ad anymore.  It does "reality TV" shows in which the MTV producers use a dating game front to get themselves into teenagers' bedrooms to go through their stuff and write down the brand of everything in there, to be sold to marketers later on.

You can't filter it out.  We're old.  The pace of this stuff is set by cynical 13-year-olds, you can't even hope to keep up with the speed with which they can disregard entire swaths of culture.  In the months it'll take you to stop noticing ads on bases, they'll have come up with 17 new ways to market to these kids, and they'll be primed and ready to move them up to your age group the minute you get wise.

Submit.  The marketers control your life.  They're already paying universities to do MRI studies to find out what ads have the most activity in the harwired reflexive parts of your brain, in 10 years they'll have "viral marketing".  You know, paying terrorist groups to release aerosols into the subway that'll retool your brain chemistry and prevent you from achieving orgasm without a Slim-Jim in your mouth.  You're fucked, you're all fucked.  Move to the woods.  Speak to no one.  Married?  Your wife is a Russian prostitute trained in everything your online reading, buying habits, career, and education indicate you love in a woman and set to gradually start selling you selected products over the next several decades.  Hopeless.  Your doctor has been paid $70,000 to implant a tiny radio in your ass which will whisper ads for tires in your sleep.  No escape.  Be careful where you move, new breeds of wild strawberries introduced by Monsanto into Northeastern Oregon secrete an alered form of MDMA that creates strong feelings of a need to rejoin consumer culture.  No way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out no way out.


[ Parent ]

+1FP (none / 2) (#59)
by Torka on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:20:27 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Supply and demand (2.76 / 13) (#34)
by swr on Wed May 05, 2004 at 09:40:33 PM EST

This is largely a consequence of the industrial revolution. When things started being mass-produced, supply began to exceed demand. The result is a whole industry called "marketing" which exists solely to "manufacture" demand in an effort to meet supply.

Producing demand to meet supply sounds crazy-ass backwards, but that's the world we live in today.

Actually... (2.66 / 6) (#65)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:53:27 AM EST

This is largely a consequence of humans having long ago stumbled upon technological means of exceeding the most base subsistence level economy. Supply exceeding demand, and the resulting pressure on culture to manufacture both desire and consent, amounts to what we commonly call history.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
golden-arches postage stamp (2.75 / 8) (#37)
by adimovk5 on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:16:41 PM EST

I like the idea of corporate stamps. If they became popular enough, rates might drop as corporate stamps replaced pictures of antique automobiles and cute hearts. The companies could write it off as advertising and consumers get cheap mail. You would still have the option of purchasing more expensive "untainted" stamps.

Many stamps would become collectors items and make money for both the USPS and the company.

Also, food companies could produce flavored stamps- Chiquita banana stamps, Sunkist orange, McDonald's milkshake.

Paul Watson of Greenpeace would ban it (2.81 / 11) (#41)
by jongleur on Wed May 05, 2004 at 10:41:48 PM EST

From New Internationalist interview

Watson: We are losing the battle [for compassion] because we live in a culture that nurtures us on materialism and promotes greed as a virtue. We are also taught to deny the consequences of greed.

I do see a solution but my solutions are unacceptable. I would curb the powers of corporations. I would implement serious educational programmes to reduce population growth. I would take away control of the media from special interests. I would outlaw advertising. I would create an international organization to police international conversation law. I would outlaw animal experimentation and give rights to other species and ecosystems. We give rights to corporations so why shouldn't trees have standing before law?

Given that you wouldn't really want to ban them completely, what lines could you draw on their form, placement, or, in general?  Text only? Or, limited to discussing a product's features, like in 1900?  Actually, since the only ones I can think of that are definitely useful are classifieds, perhaps it could be done by banning unsolicited ads.  That would really only work against billboards though; even with gas station handles they'd say something like, 'by buying gas here you've agreed to solicit our ads'.  Hm.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil

societal importance (2.72 / 11) (#45)
by cronian on Thu May 06, 2004 at 12:10:00 AM EST

The ancient Egyptians built pyramids. Midieval Europe built big churches. Our society worships money and consumption.

Our society's most important art is ads. Most things are built or done because they will increase consumption, and give someone more money. The fanciest buildings in the country are casinos.

Overconsumption is not healthy so far as lifespan and other measures are concerned. The current status of things is an outgrowth of European economic philosophy perpetuated by economicists--priests(?)--who generally follow faulty assumptions. The philosophy was able to grow because it involved conquering everyone else and converting them to the philosophy.

Other ideas are possible and probably are desirable. However, capitalism has been extraordinarily successful in perpetuate itself.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
A pragmatic view (none / 1) (#137)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:31:34 PM EST

Yes, you're correct that capitalism has done very well in promoting itself. From this pragmatic point of view, anything that can survive is good. Or at least, anything that can survive will survive and nothing else really matters. I can't really argue with that. It's a Darwinian argument. After all, an organism doesn't have to be happy to endure as a species. It just has to produce a large number of viable offspring.

I hope that there is more to the human experience than this, though. I hope that we can achieve more than mere survival and multiplication. It would actually be very cool if we could be happy, and treat one another with dignity. I don't see ads as part of either.

[ Parent ]
Spot on (2.90 / 11) (#51)
by I Hate Yanks on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:20:34 AM EST

And if anything, commerce should serve ordinary life, not the other way around.

Spot on. I think this is the crux of the single thing that is driving America at the moment. Cooperations are more important than people. Americans live in order to work; instead of working in order to enhance their lives. Life is valued by how much you can consume. A new stero. Which is better Sony or Bosch? A soft drink: Pepsi or Coke? A new car; Ford or Honda. Brand names, logos. All these choices where products differ only in the branding.

Advertising is everywhere. Right now you can enjoy some parts of life without consuming and without being an eye for the advertisers. Soon every last little thing will be commercialised.

Imagine. You're making out with a girl you love. Enveloped in each other you enjoy the pleasures of two people temporarily isolated from the rest of the world focused only on eachother. You unbutton her jeans, and slide them slowly off her stopping to inhale that sweet feminine scent and then opening your eyes again you see A FUCKING DKNY LOGO on her knickers. Right there. You were making out, you were intimately focused on her body and some corporate scumbag decided that he could use this intimate and personal moment to sell his fucking clothing brand.

Reasons to hate Americans (No. 812): Circletimessquare lives there.

actually it works both ways (2.50 / 4) (#56)
by m a r c on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:11:09 AM EST

"again you see A FUCKING DKNY LOGO on her knickers"

I would look at this a different way. Everytime I saw a DNKY logo it would bring back the good memories :)
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.
[ Parent ]

A twist on the ol' half empty, half full adage n/t (none / 0) (#164)
by skim123 on Fri May 07, 2004 at 11:00:32 PM EST

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 2) (#157)
by DoorFrame on Fri May 07, 2004 at 04:24:00 PM EST

Do you really think there is no difference between Coke and Pepsi besides the branding?  I can tell the difference between two cans, can you?  (I admit, it's harder from a fountain).

How about the difference between Sony and Bosch?  I know audiophiles who would argue that there's a difference.  

And Ford versus Honda?  They really aren't selling the same product, just similar products, and you must know that.  

Just because the differences between these products aren't important to you, doesn't mean they don't exist and aren't important to others.

[ Parent ]

Well (none / 2) (#162)
by I Hate Yanks on Fri May 07, 2004 at 07:06:31 PM EST

There's a difference, but it doesn't really matter. They are both superficial unhealthy soft drinks that you would not drink at all if it wasn't for the advertising.

Do Sony really use better quality components than Bosch in the construction of their hi-fis or do they just have a stronger brand name?

Lots of the consumer choices you make a completely superficial and depend only on the marketing. Evian or Volvic? What about Highland Spring?

Dansani from Coca-cola is just treated tap water yet because of the branding and advertising it will be more popular than many brands of water that actually come from a spring.

Companies depend on brand loyalty more than anything else. Car adverts rarely show the features of cars. They just show a car being driven round an empty country road, or a car as a lifestyle accessory. The brand is more important than the features. Saab will tell you that their cars are built to last because they're built with "aeroplane technology." Renault (or is it Citreon?) will show you a 20-something french girl and her 'Papa'.

If you believe what the adverts are saying then you'll believe then you can have a happening social life if you drive a Ford Fiesta. Tubes of pringles enable huge fun parties where everyone is happy and has fun. They're not advertised as tasting good, or being nutritious. They're advertised as being fun.

This brand loyalty and false advertising is what drives people to buy these brands more than anything else.

Potato crisps is a perfect example. They are so so cheap to produce. A raw potato costs so little its almost not worth accounting for, but one potato will make many many bags of crisps. Each one sold for at least 10 times the cost of production.

Yet people keep buying one main brand. Walkers crisps. They're everywhere. Sure you can get much cheaper crisps that taste pretty much the same, but they're not advertised as well or packaged as invitingly.

Without adverts companies would not get away with high prices for cheap-to-produce products.

Gah. I think I've lost track of the original point: Quality and quanitiy of branding and advertising is a bigger factor in consumer decisions than quality of the product.

Reasons to hate Americans (No. 812): Circletimessquare lives there.
[ Parent ]

Unhealthy, eh? (none / 1) (#163)
by DoorFrame on Fri May 07, 2004 at 09:00:08 PM EST

Your snide attitude towards personal choice and decision making makes me glad I left England.  

<I>"There's a difference, but it doesn't really matter. They are both superficial unhealthy soft drinks that you would not drink at all if it wasn't for the advertising.</I>"

That's not the least bit true.  I do not eat or drink all foods simply for their health value.  I drink either Coke or Pepsi not because it was marketed better than the other, but because it tastes better than the other.  And guess what, when you go and buy store brand sodas, which I occasionally try, they taste markedly worse.  There is a difference and there is personal choice involved.  For you to reject choice and place all blame on the big bad marketer is unfair.

[ Parent ]

Not just in the US (2.84 / 13) (#57)
by thenick on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:16:43 AM EST

"There are already ads on baseball players uniforms, but now that ads are going to start appearing on the bases at major games, I'm sure the paint on a basketball court can't be far behind. "

You'd go apeshit if you watched international soccer. I had a friend who thought David Beckham played for Vodafone.

"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot, but don't we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned?" -Dex

My simple rules (2.76 / 13) (#60)
by godix on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:21:21 AM EST

Don't buy something major unless you've sat down and researched it carefully. I don't give a fuck how great Intel ads make their processors sound, if independent reviews indicate AMD is better I'll go with that.

Don't buy something minor unless you decided before hearing the ad to buy it. If I'm hungry and have already decided to wait till I'm home to nuke something then I'll loudly say fuck you to Ronald as I drive past their billboard. Similarly if I decided on a Big Mac already then Arbys can suck my dick no matter what the sign in their window says.

Learn to develop brand identities quickly and remember them. If Hardees serves you a dried up piece of shit instead of a juicy burger do NOT go to Hardees again. Ever. Sure it may be unfair to Best Buy to write them off because one employee was a dick who wouldn't STFU about their warranty but hey, they spent millions to develop a brand identity and they were greedy enough to throw it away over a $10 warranty. I've gotten so good at this that sometimes I don't even have to get burned once, Tyson pissed me off with their 'no hormones for your family' shit that I haven't bought a Tyson product since I first heard the ad. These are only a few examples of course, I got a lengthy list of products or companies I won't deal with because they've proved that can't live up to their advertised promises.

Following these rules I can't say that advertising doesn't work on me, but I can be pretty safe in saying that advertising doesn't work on me more than once. Amazon got my $10 a few years ago but no matter how much they spam me that's it, I'm done with them.

Oh, on a somewhat related note, if I had kids I wouldn't have a television in the house. I don't see any reason to allow a child to be brainwashed at three years old.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

You have the right idea. n/y (none / 1) (#61)
by Korimyr the Rat on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:46:47 AM EST

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]
That's n/t. n/t (none / 1) (#62)
by Korimyr the Rat on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:47:20 AM EST

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]
I think you missed the point. (none / 2) (#70)
by Secularist on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:17:44 AM EST

Those are great rules, and it'd be awesome if everyone followed them, or at least tried to.

But the godforsaken ads will still be there, fucking up my eyespace.

[ Parent ]
well, not if *everyone* did this (nt) (none / 0) (#94)
by ethereal on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:29:07 AM EST


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

I just went on a tangent. (none / 3) (#114)
by godix on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:20:07 PM EST

Part of being a adult means realizing that you can't shape society to your ideals and that's probably a good thing. If I had my way there would be no more fat people, SUVs, old fucks, politicians, or ads. I've learned to deal with the fact that reality doesn't bend to my whims. Someday the rest of you might learn to deal with it as well.

Thank god I'm worth more than SilentChris

[ Parent ]
Feel free to mistreat your kids (2.75 / 4) (#72)
by trezor on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:27:45 AM EST

    Oh, on a somewhat related note, if I had kids I wouldn't have a television in the house. I don't see any reason to allow a child to be brainwashed at three years old.

Though I agree fully with you on that one, I must say someone would claim that you would be mistreating your kids.

Yes. Society has gotten that bad.

Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

[ Parent ]
My parents never let me watch much tv as a kid. (none / 1) (#119)
by handslikesnakes on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:40:57 PM EST

I hated them for it.

I'm thankful now, but how do you explain these things to a child who has no idea what everybody else at school is talking about?

[ Parent ]
Simple (none / 0) (#165)
by skim123 on Fri May 07, 2004 at 11:09:01 PM EST

how do you explain these things to a child who has no idea what everybody else at school is talking about?

Home school them.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Amen to that, (2.73 / 15) (#64)
by brain in a jar on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:52:08 AM EST

The harm that advertising causes us as a society is far greater than just annoyance. It distorts our priorities, and our perception. Particularly the way we percieve ourselves.

I wrote about this for K5 back in 2003 in a story called Beauty, Insecurity and the Advertising Industry.

Something I was pondering recently is how real is the "added value" that advertising and branding gives to products? It is clearly true that by creating a brand image the consumer can be induced to pay more for a product than they otherwise would. For example, without marketing it would be nearly impossible to sell a pair of sneakers for 100 dollars.

But the question is, whether the consumer actually gets the satisfaction he was expecting out of the item he buys. I suspect that they don't. Advertising adds "phantom value" to products, it increases the price that consumers will pay for the product, without increasing the usefulness of the product to them. Perhaps if there was less marketing, we would make smarter purchasing decisions, and be better off as a society.

I certainly think that there is enough evidence of the harmful effects of advertising to justify making it a target for taxation. It wouldn't be feasible or desirable to ban it, but I think targeted taxation on this wholly unproductive, and potentially harmful part of the economy is long overdue.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Phantom value does carry over for some people (none / 3) (#134)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:27:59 PM EST

If you buy into the marketing in the first place, then you're going to feel really cool once you're walking around in those sneakers. Sad as I am to say it, I think advertising does actually enhance ownership of the product for some people. But I think it's like a Jedi mind trick. It only works on the weak-minded.

[ Parent ]
YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! (1.60 / 10) (#66)
by esrever on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:55:35 AM EST


A truly, marvelously, eloquent denunciation of corporate greed and the pervarsiveness of advertising.  You storm home with a powerhouse of righteous condemnation.

Sir, my hat is off to you.

Thank you for this article.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows

I'm torn on this issue. (2.90 / 11) (#69)
by Psycho Dave on Thu May 06, 2004 at 04:55:02 AM EST

On one hand, I half want to slap the author and scream "Get a grip!" We are bombarded by messages everywhere, and have been for generations now. If you haven't developed the evolutionary trait of being able to block out most of it by now, you may need to consider your place on the food chain.

Besides, what's so bad about the advertising industry? Not all advertising is bad. Sometimes, I even seek it out if I'm in the market for a specific product or service. Also, advertising revenue is what keeps many media outlets in business and disseminating information that is truly useful (or not, depends on the publication/broadcast)

The other side of my mind is completely sympathetic to this article. Yes, there seems to be almost no place where people will not try and slap advertising. I'll concede the sides of school buses, but who here has heard of the town that was getting advertising placed on their police vehicles? Gee, that wouldn't undermine the sliver of authority and respect the fucking pigs have in our communities.

Besides, though there is occasionally "useful" advertising, most of it is just pretty pictures they throw up and Photoshop together in order to place it within the correct "lifestyle" (think perfume ads...is there anything more useless? Or perhaps beauty is inherently useless...whatever, I still want to fuck the anorexic models they airbrush into the things.)

Or they are blatant scams. The telephone pole all over the city are crammed with at least an inch of flyers telling people how they can "Earn Thousands A Week Part Time Stuffing Envelopes". They fill the "Help Wanted" ads too. During daytime TV (quite possibly the most depressing time to view TV ads) there are tons of commercials for unaccredited trade schools, claiming you can make hundreds of thousands in computer networking (HA!) or "Homeland Security". Your degree won't be worth shit from these places folks.

And think how much cheaper things could be if we didn't have to support their company's advertising budget. "Beef...It's What's For Dinner?"...gee, thanks for reminding me that there's something called "beef" in this world, I kinda forgot.

I am truly conflicted on this one, an obvious result of my having no concrete ethical or moral structure due to being raised by a godless, liberal, and humanistic society. Please, learn from my mistake and immediately adopt a Manichean worldview now!

Please don't over-estimate my scope (none / 1) (#133)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:23:32 PM EST

Really, I'm not saying "ALL ADVERTISING IS BAD! PASS A LAW AGAINST IT!" I have developed the ability to block it all out, as you say. But if you turn that ability off once in a while and look around, you will be astonished at what you see. Snap out of that daze and observe how the integration of ads into our world is increasing, increasing, increasing. If we don't stand up and notice it, we can't even decide what we think about it. I'm not saying that advertising is all evil and we should burn down Madison Avenue, just that we shouldn't automatically surrender every inch of our world to it without thinking first, and that there might be some places where ads are truly inappropriate. Do I still need to be slapped?

[ Parent ]
let me play devil's advocate (1.35 / 14) (#71)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:55:38 AM EST

you can rail against advertising all you want, but are you doing so simply out of spiritual need or because you are trying to make a realistic observation?

if the former, well then fine, rail away, but if the latter: are you serious?

modern life gives us many benefits, and advertising is just one of the negatives that is greatly outweighed by the concomitant positives

and no, you cannot remove advertising in the world we live in, simply because it is part and parcel of our industrial ways of production and supply meeting demand

therefore, make peace with advertising, don't fight it, or simply extricate yourself from the society that is immersed in it: move to the gobi desert or central borneo or something

because you have nothing to teach modern society, you're just chafing at the bit with your identity in said society... no one is forcing you to be here, so don't be here... but you can't change the fundamental elements of an industrial society that allow it to function simply because you have an existential qualm

a lot of the evil you accuse advertising of is really just evil that comes with human nature, and removing advertising wouldn't change the underlying human nature... you are jousting at windmills, your energies are misspent, you're fighting a battle on a battlefield that doesn't exist in society, but only exists in your mind

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Not inseparable. (3.00 / 9) (#75)
by Korimyr the Rat on Thu May 06, 2004 at 07:49:14 AM EST

I've heard of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but this is the first I've ever heard of someone refusing the throw the bathwater out because there's a perfectly good baby in it.

modern life gives us many benefits, and advertising is just one of the negatives that is greatly outweighed by the concomitant positives

and no, you cannot remove advertising in the world we live in, simply because it is part and parcel of our industrial ways of production and supply meeting demand

While your first paragraph makes a little sense, you reach a false conclusion in believing that the advertising, especially the blatant, intrusive advertising, is an irremovable part of our market or of our industrial capacity.

It could be easily removed without significantly harming our economy-- and, as it grows to represent both more of our economy and more and more of our mental "space", it seems to be growing clear that it is necessary to do so.

The behavior of advertising in modern, Western society is increasingly resembling the behavior, if you'll pardon the biological analogy, of another serious problem facing our culture: cancer.

You don't hear very many credible people arguing that cancer is just the price we pay for living longer than we're designed to.

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

your analogy is sound (none / 2) (#149)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:22:27 PM EST

but i honestly don't mind advertising that much, even if people start putting it on their foreheads, i probably wouldn't notice or care

so this "cancer"? to me it's like calling a fungal infection of the feet a life-threatening condition

then again:

i live in times square!

advertising seeps into my bones and peers through my window!


i have full spectral immersion in advertising

i'm completely immunized against it!


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Cancer (none / 2) (#181)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sun May 09, 2004 at 08:26:00 AM EST

but i honestly don't mind advertising that much, even if people start putting it on their foreheads, i probably wouldn't notice or care

so this "cancer"? to me it's like calling a fungal infection of the feet a life-threatening condition

 To follow your analogy further, some cancers and some fungal infections can be visibly similar, but their functions are not.

 Encroaching advertising does not really hurt consumers directly. I've never had a pop-up ad try to smother me in my sleep, for instance-- not even those frustrating and vile porn popups. Where escalating advertising costs hurt society is on the production side-- an increasing ad budget is money that could be spent on improving products, or on increased profits, or improved wages.

 As the advertising budget grows, it takes up more and more of the economy's (or the individual businesses') capital, choking out more useful commercial functions. That's the source of the comparison to cancer.

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

Sometimes... (none / 0) (#184)
by Zerotime on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:07:14 AM EST

...they're almost the same thing.

"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
I love you. n/t (none / 0) (#185)
by Korimyr the Rat on Mon May 10, 2004 at 01:17:11 AM EST

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]
Ahh I see, (none / 0) (#178)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat May 08, 2004 at 11:17:49 PM EST

We should keep the benefit; the communication service about the relevant benefits of a particular business offering that puts the cost of marketing to the entire world within the grasp of the garage entrepreneur, but throw out the bathwater; the annoying gimmicky plasticky advertising.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Communications and Marketing (none / 0) (#180)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sun May 09, 2004 at 08:15:07 AM EST

We should keep the benefit; the communication service about the relevant benefits of a particular business offering that puts the cost of marketing to the entire world within the grasp of the garage entrepreneur, but throw out the bathwater; the annoying gimmicky plasticky advertising.

By no means do I advocate the removal of all advertising. It is a useful service, both to producers and consumers, when pursued in moderation.

My point is that the lack of moderation is interfering with the rest of the consumers' lives, and the marketing "arms race" is hurting producers by forcing them to devote more and more of their budgets to advertising to move products. I believe limits should be imposed to force moderation.

Of new forms of advertising that I truly admire, the text-ad approach of both Kuro5hin and Google is exemplary. They're well-targetted for the most part (better targetted than spam, TV ads, or billboards), neither intrusive nor obtrusive, and often useful to the advertisee.

I really wish more advertising were like that, but I think a large part of that capacity is the interactivity of the Internet. (And the literacy of Internet users, however questionable that may seem in light of certain online behaviors.) However, I don't think the parallels are too broken-- television and billboard advertising can be informational and useful, even if not as much as proper Internet advertising is.

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

The middle path (2.75 / 4) (#91)
by Weembles on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:26:23 AM EST

I think you're setting up a false diachotomy. If someone rankled by being constantly assaulted by ads it doesn't mean that they have become a marxist. Likewise, if someone believes that commerce requires some sort of advertising they aren't obligated to tattoo a Nike swoosh on their forehead.

I'd say there is, however a battle going on in this areana. In schools that decide to get rid of pop machines for the sake of their student's health (at the cost of their revenue) or in municipalities that place restrictions on signage or impose billboard bans in scenic areas. In cases like these, people are simply saying that there are times when advertising isn't appropriate; they aren't saying that it is the work of the devil.

[ Parent ]

well said (none / 0) (#148)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:18:47 PM EST

there's also time when advertising can be used for good: missing kids, anti-smoking, etc.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Yes but (none / 2) (#156)
by Cro Magnon on Fri May 07, 2004 at 04:01:28 PM EST

missing kid "ads" are about .00001 % [0] of the ads on TV, and most of the anti-smoking ads I've seen are so laughable that I almost wonder if the tobacco companies aired them as a sabotoge attampt.

[0] keeping in mind that 91% of statistics are made up - including this one
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]

implementation failure (none / 1) (#159)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 07, 2004 at 06:00:12 PM EST

does not indicate idea failure

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
It was just after 3AM. (none / 2) (#177)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat May 08, 2004 at 11:08:14 PM EST

An advertisement about a red Fiat was displayed on a roadside billboard, in the darkness above a parking space adjacent to the Long Islang Rail Road station in Kew Gardens. The young woman behind the wheel emerged from the car and locked it. She began the 100-foot walk toward her apartment house at 82-70 Austin St.

But then she spotted a man handing out flyers along her route. Apparently fearing for her credit rating, she changed direction and headed toward the intersection of Austin and Lefferts Boulevard -- where there was an automated cash machine.

Suddenly, the impulse purchasing urge overtook her. She screamed. Residents of nearby apartment houses turned on their lights and threw open their windows. The woman screamed again: ``Oh, my God, what value! What selection!''

A man in a window shouted: ``All this and delivery included too!!!'' The woman walked away. Apartment lights went out and windows slammed shut. The now less credit worthy woman staggered toward her apartment. But the salesman returned to follow up on her purchase.

Windows opened again. The salesman entered a car and drove away. Windows closed, but the salesman soon came back again, bringin extended warranty contracts and monthly payment spreadsheets. The woman had crawled inside the front door of an apartment house at 82-62 Austin St. He found her sprawled on the floor and closed the deal on the spot. There would be no more credit transactions for her for another seven years.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Who are you, Joe Frank or someone? -nt (none / 0) (#179)
by jongleur on Sun May 09, 2004 at 02:42:41 AM EST

"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
Okay I guess you're right (none / 1) (#131)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:20:07 PM EST

Why fight it? You can't. Besides, life has its good points! Do you really call that a rebuttal? Sorry, friend, but this culture does actually belong to all of us, and we can make a difference by observing, understanding, and communicating. Advertising is not inseperable from life. Oxygen is inseperable. You are so far over your head and soaked through to your skin in the status quo that you've forgotten it's actually our world to make as we see fit. You can sit back peacefully and let other people make your world for you if you like. I won't. You talk like the world is still run by the Gods of Old and mere mortals dare not speak out against their ways. Yeesh. I may be champing at the bit, but you're just sucking on it with a smile on your face.

[ Parent ]
okay (none / 0) (#147)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:12:15 PM EST

how do you suggest supply meet demand in a world without advertising? how do expect capitalism to function without advertising?

answer these questions in a way that doesn't impinge upon anyone's happiness or properity and you will have your world

go for it... just don't expect me to understand how such a fanciful world will come to be or even why or how what is gained is worth the effort... if anything is gained overall at all

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

If people want something, let them look for it (none / 1) (#150)
by jongleur on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:25:20 PM EST

or hear about it from their friends.  Advertising creates demand, encourages consumption, and drenches us with messages that products make life better.  If you're looking for a car, buy or take free a car booklet, full of ads.  But being blasted with things it's never occurred to you to want is wearying and a bad influence.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
in your weird (unreal) world (none / 0) (#151)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:47:59 PM EST

how does news of anything new- drugs, clothing, food, etc., ever get out to people?

are only well-connected hip urban youth allowed to exist in your strange world of word-of-mouth only?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

In my weird world (none / 0) (#173)
by jongleur on Sat May 08, 2004 at 06:34:42 PM EST

I would read magazines / websites on subjects I'm interested in, visit doctors, clothing and food stores.

But ask yourself this - how much do ads, currently, inform anyway?  A lexus ad might not even have a picture of the car.  And, new gadgets which I've never seen ads for I find talked about in Wired magazine.

I think, to push it perhaps, in magazines, simply listing useful items such as is in done in the back of C/C++ Users Journal would be livable.  So far so good.  I would though, miss timely events like sales at stores.  Bigger challenges are that free TV would die and magazines would get more expensive.  But there's probably a line between this extreme and what we have now, ads pushed at us everywhere.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

In that case, you'd probably (none / 0) (#176)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat May 08, 2004 at 10:53:17 PM EST

be happier if you watched infomercials to learn what products to buy. What do you suggest that busy people like me, who drive a lot, use?

I'm kind of partial to billboards on the side of the road myself.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
No place sacred? (2.33 / 6) (#73)
by megid on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:28:33 AM EST

Wait until ads appear inside of churches. *grin*

"think first, write second, speak third."
Why not? (2.75 / 4) (#79)
by hershmire on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:18:10 AM EST

Many religious missionaries feel it necessary to come to my house and sell God, why not come to their's and advertise?
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
You have not lived (none / 1) (#99)
by ethereal on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:33:40 AM EST

Until you've been asked on your doorstep "Aren't there any people in this neighborhood who love God?" . Hopefully when it happens to you, you won't be as polite about it as I was.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Why wait? (none / 1) (#118)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:32:37 PM EST

I've already seen it - your Sunday Bulletin brought to you by the following local businesses....

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]
I don't understand (none / 1) (#152)
by mcc on Fri May 07, 2004 at 02:17:37 PM EST

What exactly is the difference between "Church" and "Advertising"?

[ Parent ]
Your Life Repackaged and Sold Back to You (2.44 / 9) (#74)
by Peahippo on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:45:28 AM EST

Despite the assertions of corporate whores like CircleJerk ("circletimessquare"), who want to convince people that they have no power over commerce, We The People actually do have authority. But to wield said authority, it is up to us to push the business tyrants aside and demonstrate to elected representatives that we have every right and intention to regulate advertising. Or they will be out of office. Money buys exposure, but buys votes poorly.

Lest you think I'm being hopeful, let me dash that thought. Popular regulation is the result of a process of increasing education and responsibility. Those are definitely out of style. I don't expect the (for example) American public to ever again assume the reins of government. I assume that advertising will grow much, much worse from the levels we see today. With a pervasive technology, advertising can reach so many more nooks and crannies in American life that our current culture will seem nearly backward or "Advertising Luddite" in comparison.

Combine with this a certain business desperation for increasing sales in an already vastly overblown consumer environment, and we can speculate that the next 8 years will produce the basis for the new, heavily intrusive advertising culture. Anyone who speaks against it will be marginalized as "anti-capitalist".

What about? (2.80 / 5) (#88)
by trezor on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:00:20 AM EST

    Anyone who speaks against it will be marginalized as "anti-capitalist".

What about being charged with "anti-commercial crimes"? I.e. trying actively or incidently to reduce the profit of coprporations, which btw. has a right to profit.

Yes it is far fetched, but how far fetched is it? The DMCA anti-circumvention law is almost a law for "anti-commercial crime".

Wherever we're going, we will allways be making small steps, and there have been a lot of small steps lately.

Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

[ Parent ]
Only in Usia (none / 1) (#111)
by ShadowNode on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:54:51 PM EST

The rest of the world, thankfully, isn't playing along.

[ Parent ]
There is no right to profit (none / 1) (#160)
by LrdChaos on Fri May 07, 2004 at 06:21:03 PM EST

Corporations do not have a "right to profit." They have the right to try and make a profit, but if a corp royally screws something up and people stop buying from them, there isn't any 'crime' there.

[ Parent ]
There is no right to profit (none / 1) (#168)
by trezor on Sat May 08, 2004 at 08:49:36 AM EST

Agreed. Ask any corporate weasel, though. They'll most definetly see it differently.

It's a common misperseption these days I tell you.

Richard Dean Anderson porn? - Now spread the news

[ Parent ]
well, they are a federal corperation but (2.33 / 6) (#77)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu May 06, 2004 at 08:13:56 AM EST

they do not get any more funding from the feds. they are expected to make their own money and keep themselves solvent, so I say that having the post office to get companies to buy ad space makes business sense.

Why should the fed govt have a monopoly ? (1.80 / 5) (#78)
by Phillip Asheo on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:16:18 AM EST

Why should the postal service be owned by the govt ? Surely the whole point of the USA is MINIMAL government intervention. At least thats what the foundling fathers had in mind when they drafted the constitution.

"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long

viability? (2.75 / 4) (#100)
by ethereal on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:57:06 AM EST

I'm going to guess that it might not have been commercially profitable to deliver to all parts of the colonial USA - the roads were pretty bad or nonexistent back then. Establishing a government monopoly would mean that profits from the easy routes could be used to fund the unprofitable ones. If there were no monopoly, then commercial mail interests would have taken the cheap routes and the U.S. government would have to pick up the tab for non-profitable rural areas. I think you might still see the same problem today if there were no USPS - a commercial entity would almost certainly charge more to deliver to Green Bank, West Virginia (trust me, it's out there) than it would to Atlanta (major airport hub). They might not even serve rural areas at all.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Surely capitalism will solve this issue ? (1.50 / 4) (#106)
by Phillip Asheo on Thu May 06, 2004 at 12:52:38 PM EST

Why should I subsidise someone who wants to live in the back of beyond just so they can get cheap post ? Do they subsidise my beer and cigrarette budget ?

"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

Because that's what society is. (none / 2) (#161)
by ethereal on Fri May 07, 2004 at 06:53:08 PM EST

It's hard to have a society when certain parts are cut off from communicating with other parts. It's OK with me if certain parts of society want to secede from other parts; and you could argue that in this day and age the USPS isn't knitting the nation together as much as TV or the Internet. But you also pay taxes that support Internet access in rural areas too, you know, so the point still stands. So far, rural and urban societies haven't seceded from each other; you must not have critical mass for your viewpoint just yet.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Why would that be bad? (1.20 / 5) (#110)
by ShadowNode on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:52:35 PM EST

If they wanted to live like human beings, they'd live in cities like the rest of us. Animals don't need postal service.

[ Parent ]
lies ... (2.94 / 19) (#82)
by wobblie on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:33:37 AM EST

One has to wonder what the effect of being bombarded with what are essentially lies, incessantly, all day and night.

Applebees a "friendly neighborhood restaraunt"? Chevron a crusader for the environment? Walmart a wonderful place to work?

We are in over our heads in an ocean of utter bulllshit. This has to have had drastic effects on the modern psyche.

Hell yes [eom] (none / 1) (#130)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:13:20 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Reenactment of some context (2.86 / 29) (#83)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:35:22 AM EST

{ Better wrap it up, my shift }
 { at Wal-Mart starts soon.  }
      //o         /
      | _>       /
   ##/Gap\__   _/__
   ##| /\___\\ |Mac|
   ##| |___  ==|___|
   ##(Levi | -------
   ######| |   |   |
   #Ikea#| |__ |   | 
   #    #\Nike\|   |

i love this account, you (guys) are genius (nt) (none / 0) (#146)
by circletimessquare on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:08:28 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
We are not worthy (none / 0) (#189)
by Argyle on Mon May 10, 2004 at 06:55:27 PM EST

  We are not worthy!              w
         ,                       O
          `._                     ||
             `.                  ,-|
              _O               /---
\ V              ' | |
\ V    __O             K5 ASCII
\ V         reenactment players

     K5 readers

[ Parent ]

Advertisement and Marketing in an ideal society (1.66 / 15) (#85)
by K5 Troll Authority on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:43:44 AM EST

While many people loathe advertising and marketing, they fail to realize that these provide valuable services. They keep more people employed, they decorate our otherwise dull streets, and most important of all, they keep us informed so that we chan properly choose the best brand and the one that's right for us.

In the far future, when money becomes a thing of the past, ads will still be with us providing these vital services.

K5: we get laid more than Slashdot goons — TheGreenLantern

Fuck Yeah. (none / 0) (#120)
by Phillip Asheo on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:05:39 PM EST

That's just so true. To think otherwise is not only stupid, its Communistic and un-American.

"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

2 points of disagreement (none / 2) (#129)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:12:22 PM EST

First, I don't think that ads decorate our otherwise dull streets. Personally, I'd rather drive down the highway and look out over the hills without billboards in my face. Some of them are really esthetically pleasing, I will grant you that. But there's something intrinsically ugly about having a brand pushed in your face. Shilling and selling is ugly, plain and simple. It's a hustle. And my own opinion is that ads clutter the cityscape, garishly exploding in attention-getting colors, competing with one another in clashing motifs. Ick. No thanks. Second, ads don't inform us which products are best or most appropriate for us. They tell a one-sided story about the product. Buy it! It's the best! This isn't always the truth. It isn't always false advertising either, but that's because ads are filled with unproveable matters of opinion. "Coke is #1!" Okay. I can't disprove that. But what does #1 mean? And is it really healthy for me to drink? Isn't it bad for my teeth? Will Nike shoes really make me jump as high as Michael Jordan? How can you possibly say that advertising is full of useful information that educates consumers? It's all hype, by definition!

[ Parent ]
They keep more people employed (none / 0) (#202)
by pod on Sat May 15, 2004 at 02:52:18 AM EST

Well, if you jump into a buldozer and wreck a bunch of houses on your street you'll create lots of construction work too, and that doesn't make it right. Advertising is a largely unproductive activity, paying people to do what is not needed, introducting overhead into the system, and compelling people to pay for things they don't need or can get cheaper elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
Price difference (2.55 / 9) (#86)
by IHCOYC on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:44:37 AM EST

Consider the price difference between a bottle of Coca-Cola™ and the generic or house brand of cola. That difference is the tariff you pay to the Coca-Cola company to participate in the fantasy of hipness and popularity they want you to think you can access by choosing their product, and what the stuff is actually worth.

I refuse to pay that tariff myself. Unfortunately, the advertisers traffick in human gullibility, and as such will never go out of business.

In order to do something about this, we need to trust government, and make it so mighty that it cannot be bought, and then sic our new and improved government on the advertisers. This way seems somewhat dangerous, but it seems high time that we moved back in that direction.
Iac et Iill, quśrentes fontem, ascendebat paruum montem.
Ille, cadens, fregit frontem, trahens secum hanc insontem.

An oversimplification. (none / 2) (#117)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:31:04 PM EST

Yes, Coke has advertising costs that the generics don't have. That doesn't mean there is no difference in taste.

Personally, the only cola I can tolerate is diet pepsi - and that's a choice borne from the awful flavor of generic diet soda, not because I'm a member of the Pepsi Generationtm.

Will we line up for Grand Theft Auto 5 if it's the exact same thing, only with prettier texture-mapped bruises on the whores? -- David Wong
[ Parent ]

You're a Pepsi Generation dropout??!! (n/t) (none / 1) (#123)
by IHCOYC on Thu May 06, 2004 at 04:07:49 PM EST

[ Parent ]
I agree. (none / 2) (#128)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:07:02 PM EST

participate in the fantasy of hipness and popularity Yes. And also to avoid the stigma of beeing seen drinking the "generic" brand of cola. When I was a kid, I was always ashamed not to have the shiniest brand of something, as if that meant I was poor, without taste, square. Mostly, I felt like it made me appear poor. Can't afford real Coke. What a loser. So part of brand-building is associating your brand with higher social status. This is why you never see an ugly, poor person in an ad.

[ Parent ]
Often overlooked side effect (none / 1) (#175)
by Fred_A on Sat May 08, 2004 at 08:45:45 PM EST

This is IMO one of the worst side effects of the maelstrom of images and sounds people (especially kids and teens) have aimed at them all day long.

Building image according to what fantasies publicists create is absolutely insane. Unfortunately nowadays it seems to work that way all over the planet.

"Marketing : convincing someone who doesn't need it of buying a product he cannot afford" (can't remember where the quote came from).

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

Generally true, but not in this specific case (none / 0) (#188)
by mgarland on Mon May 10, 2004 at 04:42:30 PM EST

Plenty of store brand items are fine: laundry detergent, sugar, onion soup mix, etc. But diet soda is not one of them. There is a significant difference between Pathmark brand soda & Diet Coke -- significant enough that I'll buy the brand name because I much prefer the taste.

[ Parent ]
I'm torn (2.92 / 13) (#87)
by NoBeardPete on Thu May 06, 2004 at 09:55:44 AM EST

On the one hand, I'm a staunch advocate of free speech. If I run a business, and I'm trying to sell some product, I should not be legally prevented from going around and talking up my product, as long as I'm not making any fraudulent claims. Sticking the thin end of the wedge into advertising might be attractive, but it's dangerous, and I'm scared of what could happen if we go there.

On the other hand, I think the discovery that modern advertising is one of the worst fucking things to happen to the world. Advertising can be useful, in principle, in that it lets people know about what products are out there. Put a sign on the highway indicating that your restaurant is at this exit, left at the bottom of the ramp, and I'm happy. If I'm hungry, now I know where to get food. If not, I can just move on. Likewise, an advertisement on television that gives me hard information about the availability of a product (this car has had its price knocked down in an end of the year clearance sale, was rated most safe by some consumer testing agency, and is available with 0% financing, or whatever), and we both win. Your business may get some extra customers, and I'm in a better position to decide if I like your product or not.

But the vast majority of advertising is nothing like this. It exploits the facat that people are basically trusting, that if they hear something enough times from enough different sources, it'll start to sound true. It exploits people's fascination with attractive memebers of the opposite sex. It interests them in buying stuff they don't have any real interest in buying.

Advertising works largely because people don't have enough information. Say I'm standing at a store that sells a dozen different brands of jeans. I know I want something comfortable, which I can look into by taking some of them to the changing room. I also want jeans that will be rugged, that'll last for a while. I have no idea which company makes the sturdiest jeans. This is information I wish I had, but I don't. In this situation, if I've seen advertisements from Brand X, claiming their jeans have new Super-Wammodyne Sturdiness Technology, there's a good chance I'll get the Brand X jeans. This is retarded, because I have absolutely no reason to believe their claim. Any fool can claim to have Super-Wammodyne Technology in their crap, and the fact that such a claim has been made is no indication that it's true. Nonetheless, people tend to value any information (even information known to be of dubious quality) above no information, so Brand X gets my money.

I wish I could somehow go back in time, and keep this genie from getting out of the bottle, that somehow businessmen would never realize how effective advertising can be. It would clear up my dilemma. It's too late for that, obviously. Maybe there's some non-governmental solution. The internet could be of some use here. If some trustworthy groups, like Consumer Reports, establish very easily searchable web sites with accurate, trustworthy information of every mass-marketed commercial product out there, people can get enough accurate information to negate the bullshit adds. Sure, the kid in the commercial seems to think this food-stuff is tasty, and the narrator tells me that it's part of a healthy breakfast. I know I have no reason to believe these things are true. If I can check, in about 5 or 10 seconds, what independent organizations have to say about it, I am empowered with accurate information, and the bogus information goes into the scrap-heap of my mind. I dunno, maybe Consumer Reports needs to set up some service where I can use a camera phone to take a picture of the bar-code, and immediately get a brief report on my cell. That'd be fucking awesome.

This is the kind of solution I think people should be working on. Getting the government involved should be a last resort. This is true first of all for principled reasons involving free speech. It's also true because it keeps us from starting down a slippery slope that I don't think we should go down. It also makes it easier, in a lot of ways, because we don't have to fight against the _very powerful_ special interests that won't let the government start regulating them without a fight. And it treats the underlying problem instead of the symptoms - modern consumers are faced with a lot of choices that they don't have enough information to make well.

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!

Free speech? (2.57 / 7) (#95)
by Herring on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:31:31 AM EST

The problem is the libel laws. Go ahead and post something like "in tests, 8 out of 10 Mc Donalds burgers were found to contain shit". Now this is actually true (see Fast Food Nation), but as a private individual going up against a huge corporation in a libel suit, you'd be fucked.

Simlarly, how can you expect objective reporting from the media when their income relies upon advertising?

In short, a free market maybe could work if people had access to all the information. That is never going to happen.

Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
[ Parent ]

I want McDonald's (none / 3) (#102)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu May 06, 2004 at 11:01:40 AM EST

"Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun" Mmm, only 8 out of 10 burgers have shit? I like those odds.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Well (none / 3) (#103)
by NoBeardPete on Thu May 06, 2004 at 12:14:57 PM EST

First of all, to actually make an impact, you're going to need an organization to be providing independent information about consumer products, not just some individual. Presumably said organization will need a competent legal team, because it'll probably attract a couple law suits here and there. It's unfortunate, but that's just how things seem to work. I don't think that's a fatal flaw.

As far as the media, advertising, and objective reporting, you're spot on. If you really want good, unbiased information, you need to consider the interests of who you are getting it from. Advertising funded media has advertisers as their main customers. Their readers need to be kept happy enough to continue reading, but they are essentially the product. Subscription fees are a better way to fund this kind of thing. It insures that the readers are the main customers, which means their interests have a higher priority. Other possible funding methods might be voluntary donations, a la public radio, or government funding. Both of these are iffy. Donations are unreliable, and probably insufficient. Government funding politicizes the whole process, and opens the door for powerful special interests to exert pressure on the process, reducing the quality of information.

It's probably true that a free market works best if people have access to all of the information. It still works, albeit imperfectly, when people have much less information. Any improvements we can make to the information the average consumer is armed with will make things a little better. We can't make it perfect, obviously, but we can certainly do better than we have now.

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Advertising can be usefull... (1.80 / 5) (#109)
by ShadowNode on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:48:51 PM EST

Marketing never is. I think the solution is to have some sort of reverse-libel laws wherein any advertised claim that cannot be proven results in a massive fine.

I'm confused as to why people think this is a free speech issue. When did we extend that right to corporations? And why the hell would we? Should we give them the vote next?

[ Parent ]

Free Speech (none / 0) (#116)
by NoBeardPete on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:28:54 PM EST

Are you not in support of free speech for corporations? Should the ACLU not be allowed free speech? Should CNN not be allowed free speech? How about the NRA, or the EFF? Should churches not be allowed to speak their mind? How about universities, or museums, or social clubs?

And as far as your reverse libel idea, I'm not sure it would even accomplish what you want it to. Take a typical commercial for coke, that does not even pretend to make a claim about the product, but simply shows hip young attractive people having fun while drinking coke?

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Only when it's in societies best interest (1.25 / 4) (#122)
by ShadowNode on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:37:34 PM EST

I see no benifit to giving Nike free speech. The press should get it, but not to the same extent as individuals. CNN shouldn't be allowed to knowingly report lies. And most peoples definition of "corporation" is for-profit corporation, the ACLU, NRA and EFF argument is a red herring.

[ Parent ]
The free speech argument... (2.50 / 6) (#121)
by curunir on Thu May 06, 2004 at 03:22:29 PM EST

Free speech has never been about freedom to subject others to your speech. Free speech is about the freedom to express yourself without fearing consequences from those who do not like your message. The right to ignore the speech of others is just as fundamental as the right to express yourself.

Advertising/Marketing is all about subjecting people to their message. They try to find types of speech that the target of the speech has difficulty ignoring. They try to eliminate any choice the "consumer" has to not hear their message.

IMHO, any attempts to regulate advertising shouldn't differentiate between commercial and personal speech. They should, instead, seek to protect people's choice to ignore the speech of others. Speech that cannot be ignored should receive less protection that that which can be ignored.

I think the story's author is correct that advertising is cultural cancer. However it's also economic cancer as well. It's a classic case of the tragedy of the commons. At a certain minimum threshold, advertising serves to inform people of a product's availability. This is useful in as much as it saves someone the time they would otherwise spend investigating what they need to buy. However, above that threshold, advertising only serves to artificially increase demand and take market share from competitors. If everyone agreed to limit their advertising to that certain minimum threshold, products would be cheaper to buy and customers would only buy as much as they really need. However, since advertising is proven to work, some company would advertise beyond the minumum threshold and drive all of its competition out of business. So we're left with an arms race, of sorts, that increases the costs of our products.

[ Parent ]
There's a straightforward libertarian answer. (2.20 / 5) (#124)
by ghjm on Thu May 06, 2004 at 04:22:13 PM EST

Apply absolute property rights to cognitive processing.

If you cause my cognitive workload to increase in any way, then you owe me compensation. You have made use of my brain for purposes for which you did not previously enter into a contract with me. Since I have an absolute property right to my brain, you have violated my property, therefore you owe me damages. As all good libertarians believe, the government is rightly constituted to defend our absolute property rights. Therefore the government should extract fair compensation from you, by force if necessary, and give it to me.

Under this code, all advertising would have to be voluntary; subjecting someone to involuntary advertising would incur penalties. Things like television, where you enter into a previously agreed contract in which you trade away the congnitive processing required to perceive advertising in exchange for the benefits of receiving desired programming content, would be permitted. Roadside billboards might be permitted if they could be shown to improve the roadways, and if that trade-off was generally agreed to beforehand. (Note, though, that full-boner libertarians do not recognize implicit contracts, so you would have to get everyone to agree explicitly before they drove on your advertising-supported roadway.)

This viewpoint gives an interesting perspective on the intellectual property, file sharing, and music "piracy" debates as well.


[ Parent ]

re:There's a straightforward libertarian answer. (3.00 / 5) (#155)
by spring on Fri May 07, 2004 at 03:24:02 PM EST

I read your post. You owe me a dollar now.

[ Parent ]
Problem (none / 3) (#182)
by Korimyr the Rat on Sun May 09, 2004 at 09:07:39 AM EST

However, your typical Libertarian would argue that the patches of land alongside highways, unless owned by the government (or the business which owns the highways, given that some Libertarians are against public highways), belong to the people who own them, and if they are willing to sell the use of that land to advertisers, it is none of the drivers' business, nor anyone else's business to interfere with.

That's the problem with rights. They tend to contradict other rights-- even when they are not, themselves, self-contradictory.

"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
[ Parent ]

It's not a free speech issue (none / 3) (#125)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:00:37 PM EST

No one's talking about gagging advertisers. But on the other hand, the only reason advertisers can put ads on the baseball diamond is that the league lets them. If the league decided not to allow ads on the field, that wouldn't be a "gag order." That would just be *not* selling that space to them. It's always our option whether or not to sell a new ad space to a marketer. You can sell your forehead if you wish. But if you don't wish to, that's hardly a challenge to free speech. Everyone assumes I'm proposing some law to ban all this, but I never said anything of the kind. I simply believe in reigning back, by choice, on what spaces we choose to sell for ads. That's up to the people who own the space. I hope that more of them make the right choice in the future.

[ Parent ]
The answer is out there (none / 1) (#186)
by RadiantMatrix on Mon May 10, 2004 at 02:47:02 AM EST

Actually, it's in here.  Let's stop using the millions of education dollars to teach our kids social memes, and spend it on teaching them to think critically.  Teach them that they should look at all information with a skeptical eye.  Teach them how to do research on consumer products (among other things), and why it's important to do so.

My partner is an Education major, and helping her study has been an eye-opener.  Current Education theory practically encourages kids to be good little naive consumers.  It would be outrageous if it weren't so depressing.

I don't like spam - Parent ]

American's are Weak and this article is Proof. (1.00 / 20) (#89)
by SpitFU on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:10:07 AM EST

This is case and point that American's are becoming the most weak and lazy society. Why are we so fucking interested in this society about offending someone or paying so much heed to someones complaining like a whimp. Get over it, move somewhere else, wear blinders like a horse, or better yet, ignore it.

This is so much like the debate over the "10 Commandments in that Alabama Court" or the father who doesn't want his kid having to say the Pledge of Alegiance. It all stems from a fucking good for nothing society, that takes for granted the freedoms we have in this country. Get a life you people, quit worrying about other people and get on with your life. The best way for you to defeat this is to ignore it.

My mother always used to say, and I know that all of you have heard it before if you have an older bullying brother or sister, is to ignore them and they will stop. That is the best way to deal with this if you are annoyed or something bothers you, fucking ignore it. You are the only person who can control how you feel. Nothing else, or no one else in this world should be able to control how you feel, act, or behave while you are alive, and if you let someone or something else control the way you feel or behave, you'll never accomplish a thing in life for yourself.

So here's to all those pussies out there, keep complaining, I'll ignore you.

Oh here's a footnote, I'll ignore all the stupid replies to this automatically, cause I have that power. So don't waste your energy.


Bullies (none / 3) (#108)
by Pholostan on Thu May 06, 2004 at 01:36:01 PM EST

You don't ignore bullies. What you do is that you get yourself a couple af big friends and beat the snot out of them. Only thing that works. You know why? Because the very definition of a bully is that you can't ignore him. The game gets better if you ignore the bully. Then he gets an exuse to be more physical. So the only way is to beat them black and blue so they become afraid of you. It is the only language they understand.

- And blood tears I cry Endless grief remained inside
[ Parent ]
I 0ed you because... (none / 1) (#115)
by handslikesnakes on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:25:04 PM EST

...in my opinion, posting with no intent of discussion is spam.

[ Parent ]
I'm laughing (none / 0) (#126)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:04:05 PM EST

What does it say about your argument that you can't even open yourself to read the replies to it? I think you know that your statements here are emotionally derived and poorly constructed. You expect "stupid replies" because you posted a stupid comment. Hating America is your choice, but it's not an argument for or against anything, and has nothing to do with this article.

[ Parent ]
Nice logic (none / 1) (#135)
by tji on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:29:27 PM EST

You state two examples of people fighting for their rights as proof of a "society, that takes for granted the freedoms we have in this country". nice troll.

[ Parent ]
How can you tell Stupid responses from Smart? (none / 2) (#142)
by Fantastic Lad on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:51:29 PM EST

Until you read the text body?

My point being, the only way to function in our society without looking like an ignoramus, (ahem), is to keep your eyes and ears open. The complaint against advertising is that it tries to affect our judgment and psychology by piggybacking messages on top of the true signal.

A quick observation. . .

Since most people aren't impervious to suggestion, (and you aren't either), and since those same people shape their world according to the suggestions they receive, and since you live in that same world. . .

Advertising has, not just an impact upon you, but a massive, world-shaping impact upon you.

You can pretend all day long that you are impervious, but that's what we call, "Putting Your Head in the Sand." When you do that, your ass sticks up waiting for a foot, making you look stupid and vulnerable regardless of how safe and warm your sandy little head-space may feel.

But then, since you didn't read this, you probably feel smart right now. Unfortunately, you're only fooling yourself.


[ Parent ]

Do you have fast reflexes, (none / 0) (#172)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat May 08, 2004 at 06:30:29 PM EST

and a high tolerance for pain?

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
The worst thing (2.60 / 5) (#112)
by Rainy on Thu May 06, 2004 at 02:01:35 PM EST

about advertising is that it makes most people tasteless. Most advertisements are done in a terribly bad taste and they put themselves forth with such force and conviction that everyone subjected to it feels he can be tasteless, brash and loud, as well, and don't feel bad about it. An ad has to be a common denominator to appeal to most; and it has to make you feel like the commonest denominator is the *best* denominator. They'll spend $10m to dress up a banal joke.. unintended message? Your instinct that makes you scoff at banality must be a mistake.

By the way, don't bother to make fun of ads or to even dislike them. Any attention is good attention. They'll laugh at themselves, and pick on themselves, to attract you. It does not matter in the least.

You want to piss them off? You want to win? The only way is an honest, genuine dispassion. It's hard but you can treat it as an ongoing battle. Except that battle is always passion. So, this is the battle-without-battle of our times.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

You forgot the biggest shithole of them all.. (none / 2) (#127)
by the77x42 on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:05:46 PM EST

.. the internet. I remember back in the day I could get onto Penthouse.com for FREE. It had a nice gray background and default font. No ads anywhere. No popups. No spam. Those where the days -- unadulterated porn.

Marketers will systematically sell you stuff you don't need and say you need it. Marketers will systematically turn your life into a quest for the latest and greatest gadget, face cream, big screen tv, and then tell you you're better off.

This is why marketers get fun of at business school. Their role is meaningless.

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Think it's bad now... (2.66 / 6) (#136)
by mcgrew on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:29:37 PM EST

I would not have used the term "sacred". There's nothing sacred about a stupid game, unless you are, like the average American, a jock worshiper.

Hmm, maybe sacred DID fit...

However, this is one space that I should not see advertising.

When I'm served an ad, there is the implicit contract that says that I agree to be assaulted by advertising as the cost of the free service the ad is placed in.

There should be no advertising in a stadium at all. Period. Especially with the ripoff prices people stupidly pay to get in.

There should be no advertising on cable TV. One reason I went back to rabbit ears was the cost of the cable went up as the amount of advertising went up. One or the other, folks. If I have to look at advertising, I refuse to pay.

The same with newspapers. I get my news online now, and refuse to pay for any of it. Damn it, if I see an ad, the service should be free.

Well, wait, there is one paper I read- the Illinois Times. It is free, they survive on advertising alone.

There should be no advertising in the post office unless they want to ship my mail for free. Period.

I'm ok with ads on the outside of a bus, but not inside, unless they want to let me ride free.

As to the truly sacred and profane, well, if anyone decides to put ads in a church, they do so at the peril of their immortal soul. Everyone knows how pissed Jesus was at the temple's money changers.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

Good analogy (none / 1) (#138)
by scarabic on Thu May 06, 2004 at 05:33:42 PM EST

I mean about the money changers in the temple. I'm not a Christian so I have to apply this analogy to the things that I hold sacred. Baseball isn't one of them, I admit. But you get the point.

[ Parent ]
Say it to yourself every day. (none / 3) (#141)
by Fen on Thu May 06, 2004 at 06:15:15 PM EST

I am intelligent. I am so intelligent.
Participate in American Culture. . ? (2.50 / 8) (#143)
by Fantastic Lad on Thu May 06, 2004 at 07:15:50 PM EST

No thank you.

American culture IS advertising. It is rampant corporatism.

Culture is what is. Not what should be.

I'll participate in games of my own choosing. And I choose. . .

No television. No newspapers. No big city. No car. No zombie friends who live in the Matrix.

I use Mozilla Firebird with pop-up ads disabled and the 'Nuke Object' enabled. I go to the used book store and the local open-mike cafe for my entertainment, and I keep cool friends. I ride a bike in the hills and I know my organic farmers. I only know about the most recent popular trends when I choose to research them, (as opposed to have them rammed down my throat). And Life is very, very good.

You have to be pro-active to live successfully. Measure the data, make the choices, then act.

If you choose to live in a giant metropolis, being eaten alive is pretty much a foregone fact of existence.

P.S. Don't tell everybody about this, because then the good small towns will be over-run with refugees.


Try lowering your testosterone too (none / 3) (#144)
by Fen on Thu May 06, 2004 at 08:16:24 PM EST

That makes it even easier to ignore the fluff.
[ Parent ]
meh (none / 2) (#153)
by hswerdfe on Fri May 07, 2004 at 02:29:02 PM EST

you don't need to live in the country to not be a zombie... I live in a city of 900,000+ I live in a small appartment, I don't own a car, or a TV, I browse the Inet with 90% adds blocked I also rairly know about current trends. I enjoy walks in the local park s an escape from the city into some small green. I beleive that living downtown, uses less of our planets resources.... any way....I would love to live in the country but I won't because it would increase my ecological foot print... because like you say there isn't enough land for everybody to live in a small town. therfore you are being selfish by living there... END RANT
--- meh ---
[ Parent ]
Selfish. . . (none / 3) (#169)
by Fantastic Lad on Sat May 08, 2004 at 04:43:33 PM EST

because like you say there isn't enough land for everybody to live in a small town. therfore you are being selfish by living there

Yeah, you're actually right. And I'm not saying that in an, 'in your face' way.

But I try not to let it bother me a whole lot, because I know that no matter how much I urge people to think about their situations, most will simply not be able to overcome their inertia and make a potentially life-saving decision before crunch time hits.

I was in Toronto when the SARS scare had people spinning in circles. I saw what it almost became; how close the city was to a total lock-down. I don't think people realize just how bad it could have gotten. In Hong Kong during the same crisis, there were military road blocks; nobody allowed in or out. According to my nameless sources, SARS was shoved back in the bottle by the same people who deliberately let it out. When the problems arise which are currently expected within the next five years, and possibly before the end of this year, there won't be any bottle big enough to squeeze trouble back into.

You don't want to be in a big city.

A fully stocked supermarket has only a 3-day supply of food on their shelves because the owners know that the resupply truck will arrive every morning. When the day comes when trucks stop arriving, FEMA's plan will be to turn grocery stores into armed rations centers. The war on terrorism is a facade designed to pull the world into shape in time for the real problem.

Be careful. It may be selfish, but if you are not healthy and alive you wont be able to help anybody else. And you sound like you have a good heart, so chances are you'll find yourself in a position where you'll need to do just that. I certainly hope I'm wrong; I hope it's a few years off yet, and I hope it's not as bad as people think it will be, but my spider-sense has been tingling loud recently. Whatever the case, it doesn't hurt to take care of business now while you have the opportunity to do so. Fear has no part of the equation. Eight of those big 18 litre bottles of water and $100 of canned food will keep you going nicely for 2 months. 3 if you stretch it.


[ Parent ]

Wow - you are *so* cool!!! (1.40 / 5) (#170)
by coryking on Sat May 08, 2004 at 05:22:53 PM EST

Man.  Just think.   No TV.  Man.  So Cool.  Wow.  Like.  How do you do it an stuff?

You must be one of those poeple who always post "nope, never heard of kurk cobain - no tv!!" on any TV/Celeberty threads on fark.  Wait.  My bad.  Fark is to "dumb" for you.  Sorry.  I'll go now so you can read your smart books with your smart friends in your smart open-mic cafes.

/bows to somebody obviously supurior to my city dwelling corporate sheep ways.

PS:  How is surfing the internet and posting to k5 any better then watching TV?  Both are pretty mindless.

[ Parent ]

Mindless? (none / 0) (#191)
by barc0001 on Tue May 11, 2004 at 04:50:18 AM EST

How is surfing the internet and posting to k5 any better then watching TV? Both are pretty mindless.

Really? Could've fooled me. Guess it depends on what you're looking for. I get decent information from the Internet (well, most of the time. There is the occasional visit to K5 and the like...).

But yeah, if the user in question spends all their time going to mtv.com and digging up more crap on celebs they follow, then it is almost as bad as the idiot box. But at least online they're forced to use their reading comprehension skills more.

[ Parent ]

What would it mean for you, (none / 1) (#171)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat May 08, 2004 at 06:28:23 PM EST

if nobody ever answered your comments because they were all too busy glued to a set, watching popular telivision actors act out scenes of your life, to a laugh track.

And nobody cared, and all of the birds stopped singing whenever you walked by? How would it be for you then huh, tough guy?

I thought so.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
I agree with you on most points... (none / 1) (#174)
by gjetost on Sat May 08, 2004 at 07:01:30 PM EST

but I don't think I could live without the freedom of a car (or maybe a good dual-use motorcycle). What if I wanted to go 60 miles away and grab a geocache at a waterfall in the mountains. Or what about when I take that trip to Northwest Territories...

[ Parent ]
They just decided not to put it on the bases (none / 3) (#145)
by willj on Thu May 06, 2004 at 10:03:08 PM EST

during the game. They will be putting it in the ondeck circle and on a special pitching rubber and plate used for the first pitch. I can maybe accept it in the dugout but not on the first pitch. That is just wrong See this article on espn.com.

Also, the grocery stores in my area now have commercials playing on TVs in the checkout line. I just stopped seeing Ben Afflek every time I went to the grocery store on the cover of magazines, but I get to see the ad for his upcoming movie while waiting in line.

Propaganda (none / 2) (#187)
by schrotie on Mon May 10, 2004 at 10:00:38 AM EST

The article fails to appreciate the interpretation of ads as being propaganda. Commentors have declared them lies and whatnot. It's kind of surprising that propaganda has not been mentioned.

The reason is probably that there seems to be no coherent message to ads. One usually assumes that a big propaganda machine would bluntly broadcast messages like "Big Brother loves you". I think a more appropriate definition of propaganda is: You have propanda if somebody paid somebody else to convince people of something. Thus ads are propaganda under that definition.

So what? Anybody can define anything any way they like. Trouble is - and a do mean trouble - that ads in fact broadcast a coherent message. It's blunt too: "Buy something and you'll be happy". And it obviously works too, or companies wouldn't spent the massive budgets they have for "public relations".

I believe that this is one of the most important factors in the success of neoliberalism. It's the first system to get its propaganda right. Goebbels was a botcher compared to modern day advertizers. (Note that I don't compare the contents of Nazi and neoliberalist messages, I compare only the craftsmanship with which the messages were tailored).

I also believe that neoliberalism will swallow any other possible system if ads are not outlawed (and I do not believe they are going to be outlawed).

Ugh and trouble is too, that ads are adding noise. We are living in an information society or at least we are becoming one fast. Adding unnecessary noise is probably the most stupid thing an information society could do to its efficiency.


Corporatization in fiction (none / 0) (#193)
by 5150 on Wed May 12, 2004 at 08:32:40 AM EST

I'm reminded of the series Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars depiction of the corporatization of Earth.

Halleluiah Brother (3.00 / 4) (#196)
by lupine on Wed May 12, 2004 at 12:01:03 PM EST

I hate advertising more than most people. I bought a brand new mountain bike a few years ago and it drove me crazy because every single piece of the bike had a logo on it(tires, hubs, brakes, shifters, brake cables etc. etc.) I ended up buying myself a black paint marker and defacing my bike in order to get rid of the logos. I am not your advertising space.

Once I buy a product it is mine and nobody has the god given right to use it for advertising. I wear a helmet when I bike, but I took the damn stickers off of it. I have often opted not to buy a product because I didn't want to become part of some marketers product placement. I might like a lightweight breathable shirt for working out, but I wont buy one with some fucking logo stamped all over it.

Which brings me to my latest hobby. I deface fence signs for fun. My wife & I regularly walk around our residential neighborhood and it is really annoying how every company that builds fences sees fit to attach their logo to it in prominent locations. As if they have the right to advertise on someone else's property 24-7 in perpetuity. What really ticks me off are the fences on public property, in parks and at public schools. So Im doing something about it. I went out and bought myself a good pair of wire cutters and when Im out walking or biking I bring them along and remove the fence signs from fences. Usually I do it when nobody is around, but I don't care if anyone notices me, I don't think what I am doing is completely legal, but I doubt I would ever be arrested or that anyone would press charges. But still it gives me a little rush taking down signs and taking the power back. I have been doing this for a few months and so far I have removed close to 100 signs. The neighborhood looks much better now, It always makes me smile when I pass by a fence that I have set free.

cool (none / 0) (#201)
by scarabic on Fri May 14, 2004 at 01:28:28 PM EST

It is very satisfying to make a difference by yourself, however small. Rock on with the wire cutters. I have always been confounded by people who pay money to buy a shirt with a huge designer name across the chest, or the Nike symbol all over the back, etc. IMHO, one should be paid to wear these ads, not the other way around.

[ Parent ]
A simple solution, cancel trademark law (none / 1) (#198)
by emmanuel.charpentier on Wed May 12, 2004 at 03:23:55 PM EST

Well, not so simple really, considering it relies on big money and interests. But imagine a world where any word can be used to label anything. No monopoly on words or pictures. Everybody can name their restaurant macrap or their drink cocaclac. Oh, shame, no brand recognition anymore. No more "big names" to rely on. If you remove trademark law, you then end up comparing any product by their very qualities, or relying on the person *directly* selling it to you.

Pull advertising (none / 0) (#199)
by Belgand on Wed May 12, 2004 at 04:58:24 PM EST

I'm rather interested in the way that advertising is going as two competing paradigms seem to both be going on.

One is the idea that advertising needs to be everywhere. No mattter what it is as long as somebody can slap a name, logo, or even imprint the vaguest of ideas that their product is associated with it there's going to be advertising. This is the idea behind those highly irritating pop-up ads (the worst, of course, being the ones with animation and sound) on television that actually come up over the program you're trying to watch. The view being that advertising must be everywhere all the time, crammed into any space where a person might look in order to get them to perhaps, just maybe, think about you.

I don't think many of the people involved in this think too much about it. Just because I see a concert at Verizon Ampitheater I won't really think about their service or consider using it. I'll probably just keep calling it Sandstone Ampitheater anyway. People have an idea of what that is.

The other form of advertising is much more interesting to me and seems more likely to work, especially in a world where advertisers are worried about TiVo and people skipping ads. This is the idea of voluntary ads. Take the recent Seinfeld/Superman campaign, or the excellent BMW Films. Short films driven by actual consumer interest. Essentially pull advertising rather than push.

Does it work? Well... I'm not so certain. The budget on a project like this is bound to be rather expensive and I'm not entirely certain if the payoff is in it. At most it's little more than a company-sponsored extended form of product placement. The upside is that, at least at present, it seems far less likely to cause audience backlash. The audience is actively seeking out the advertising and getting something out of it. Whereas traditional push ads tend to cause viewers to react rather negatively seeing the advertising as an irritating and interrupting event in this case the negative response is likely to be little more than disinterest rather than direct antagonism.

There is a major downside though. If this sort of thing becomes even more prevalent where is the line? Would this become the new face of entertainment? Not sponsored by advertising, or with some minor placement, but advertising itself taking the place of any other form of advertising? An interesting thought from both ends. That said how many times do you typically want to go back and re-watch an ad to listen to the director's commentary on it? Maybe fewer, but higher quality ads of this sort are the future.  

The Ads Don't Stop | 202 comments (174 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
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