Saturday, April 08, 2006

Memo to Marketing Teams and Advertisers -- Quit Your Jobs and Go Home, You're Failing

Comedian Bill Hicks was known to ask his audiences, "Are there any people who work in marketing here tonight?" When a few drunken louts cheered or applauded, or otherwise made their presence known, Hicks would calmly follow-up with, "Good. When you go home tonight, kill yourselves."

It's been eons since I last listened to commercial radio. Even as a teenager, I owned enough cassette tapes (now CDs) to listen to music for days on end without hearing the same song twice. It's been different with television because I've always enjoyed television. I'm one of those "active viewers" who does not aimlessly surf channels, nor sit drooling, zombified before any old thing playing on whatever channel happens to be on when I flick the TV on. As a writer, as an educated person, it's fashionable or expected to say I shun TV. I really enjoy television, but over the past few years have come to shun it almost entirely. Not because of the so-called "reality shows" (shit, those wretched works of detritus only demonstrate how much writers are needed; Joe Blow and Jane Doe off the street are as boring as dogshit), or any other deficiencies in programming. No, I have come to hate television for one reason -- the commercials.

Even before my great distaste for television had fully formed, I'd always had a silent agreement with myself -- I would never buy a product I had seen in an advertisement. It's been a surprisingly easy pact to keep.

Times I do encounter commercial television, I've become more and more astounded, appalled and bewildered by what I see in advertisements. I understand what I see and hear -- that's what troubles me. Based on what I see, I've made a few guesses about the advertising industry (one of the few industries in which I've never worked):

* Obviously, people who make commercials are not paid -- no one would pay money for that work

* Clearly, makers of commercials were conceived in test tubes, reared in featureless padded cells, and work in sterile laboratories with only old in-flight magazines from defunct airlines as their connection to the world outside

* Marketing folk have no friends -- who could be friends or even casually associate with someone involved in polluting the world's consciousness with the insulting, stupid tripe that comprises advertising

* Advertisers have misshapen craniums -- like lawyers, advertisers' minds (or what passes for their minds) lack those regions in which creativity, intelligence, and conscience reside. As a consequence, their cranium vaults sag inward into the void

* Commercials causes physical illness -- watching or listening to advertising causes the functions of the human body to slow to such a degree that low grade rigor mortis sets in and viewers'/listeners' internal organs actually begin to rot, thus leaving victims prone to infection and compromised immune systems

I suppose it doesn't matter. With TiVo and downloading movies and TV shows from the Internet, viewers have more opportunity to skip commercials altogether. However, that does leave the physical landscape outside our homes at their disposal. Every time I'm on highway, seeing those obnoxious, endless billboards passing by, I think to myself, "And this is within the law -- incredible!"

Not that any greedhead advertiser is going to listen to me. But if some person involved in marketing is home some night, drunk, sitting at their PC in soiled clothing, surfing the Web, and comes across this blog posting -- listen to Bill Hicks.

Update 04/11/2006

See Slate's The Nastiest Wife on Television for an example of what I'm talking about. People couldn't possibly get paid to come up with this crap.


Ascendantlive said...

If people would stop paying attention to advertising it wouldn't work...unfortunatly people are dumb shits, did you know that diamond engagement rings weren't a 'tradition' until an advertising campaign debut 'Diamonds are Forever'?
Advertising is the main reason small minded people identify and judge others based on their cars...advertising got people to beg and beg just to pay $400 for a certain cell phone that does all the same things as all the other $20 cell phones, advertising has people thinking that bottled water from India is better than good clean American water(among the cleanest in the world)...I don't think advertising makes people dumb, I think it just takes advantage of what's already there. And I only wish the marketing teams were failing, they're not...they jack up prices and get people to beg for more...sad.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Then it appears all of this is taking place in a language I don't understand. That's not sarcasm directed at your comment, it's my honest opinion. Advertisers couldn't get me to buy something if they had a gun to my head. Sure, I'm a creature of my environment and I enjoy my comforts and entertainments. People might accuse me of being the ultimate zombie -- lulled into thinking I'm actually making decisions in my own life; that my choices of necessities are based on my own desire and not those implanted by commercials. That would be a wholly incorrect assessment, however, because my lifestyle is structured to keep me out of the path of the DeathRay of advertising. I encounter it so infrequently; only enough to be appalled and bewildered by it.

Man, if what I recently saw in TV commercials is "success", it may well be time to drink Drano and turn my eyes to the sky.

Ascendantlive said...

advertising is directed at the weak-willed and small minded, it'd never work on people like us.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Check out Slate's article on The Nastiest Wife on Television to see exactly what I'm talking about.

Ascendantlive said...

you're right, the ad is bullshit. But like most advertisements they try to fuse their product with a person's ads are the worst at that. And sadly people fall for it, but just the shallow insecure ones.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

I couldn't agree with you more, particularly regarding the car ads. It just kills me the number of macho men out there driving their "penis-extender" trucks, as my wife calls them. It's not like there's an oil shortage, or anything.

The most reprehensible advertisements in my mind are those saccharine pieces of shit in which corporations try and seem "human." I'll never forget CantorFitzgerald's (heavily hit by 9/11) ad a couple of years ago in which "ordinary" employees spoke on camera, seemingly having necromanced their dead colleagues and speaking on their behalf -- saying, "My dead colleagues would say 'It's time to get back to work.'" Nauseating. I wrote to CantorFitzgerald voicing my outrage that they would invoke the spirits of their dead colleagues in such an ad. I think those dead colleagues would say from beyond the grave, "Spend more time with your families, and doing shit that's really important -- fuck work." But that's just me.