Tag Archives: ads

Cause of the Day #vote

vote-squeezeAt last, at last! It’s voting day at last! You see, I have a dream. It involves not having my intelligence insulted every single time I turn on the damn TV. I mean, more than usual.

For the United States it is voting day at last.

As early as tomorrow freedom will ring across the land as all the political ads will finally stop running. Yes, for once in my life, I’ll be happy to hear about side effects (up to and including death), how much money I won’t have in my retirement and garments specially designed for Americans and made in China so they can inhale whole containers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (where a pint is still 16 ounces) and finger the remote control – all at the same time!

This day brings a lot of craziness.

I’m not going to miss the ads. Let’s take a look at Measure WTF. Ostensibly this measure was brought to the ballot via the citizen initiative process. What does that mean? Most likely that paid canvassers collected the signatures. What’s that? I love the smell of democracy in the morning.

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Food For Thought: GMO Logic

beware-gmoI’m not going to make any claims here that GMO foods are dangerous. Maybe you believe they are, maybe you don’t. That’s basically the point behind efforts to label foods that contain GMO, isn’t it? We’re supposed to have faith in the ability of free markets to reach sound conclusions. (If not, we’re all doomed.) At least in theory en masse we generally get it right.

Some companies, though, seem to chafe at the bit at the bit when it comes to revealing information about what’s actually in their foods. So many “secret” ingredients and the like. So many euphemisms like “natural flavors” to avoid a detailed accounting of what’s really in there. (And happily stamped “OK” by Uncle Sam, too.)

But without information what possible decision-making can take place? I submit that a free market can’t reach those legendary conclusions in a void of data. Without the ability to weigh facts, the market must simply go where it is led by the powerful few in the know. As a general rule other people making decisions on your behalf don’t turn out all that well.

1913: 100% of corn was farmer owned. By 2013 approx. 95% was owned by corporations.
–A statistic I found all over the Internet which may or may not be real

Today, without attempting to examine real and/or imagined ills that may or may not be associated with GMO, I wish to look at a single debate point offered by those who oppose labeling. What GMO means to you should be something you investigate for yourself. See if you can, somehow, sort through all the noise and determine your own level of comfort.

I look at it like this? If given the choice of no food and dying of starvation or nom nom on some GMO most of us would probably choose the latter and take our chances. Is that the issue in a nutshell? As Earth converts farmland to condominiums and strip malls and the population continues to increase no doubt one day we’ll all be facing a question like that. (And insects. Don’t forget the edibility of insects.)

So, here in Oregon, a lot of us signed a petition and Measure 92 qualified for the ballot. It’s a measure that Oregon voters will decide this November. The aim of the measure is to mandate labeling of GMOs in food.

Naturally, now we’re being subjected to a horrifying barrage of television ads both for and against. One of the arguments against the measure kind of stuck in my craw. Let’s take a look.

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Come On Be Happy

Drink this shit, you idiot!

Drink this shit, you idiot!

Remember when I told you about the inventive advertising process of mascotization? That’s where you take your product and turn it into a “character” to appear in your ad campaigns. This is done by adding cartoonish facial features, the magic of animation and cutsey voice overs. I originally introduced this idea in a post entitled “Human spam at home and on the road” back in May of 2010.

If your product is a wrench, you draw a face on it and animate. Voila! Instant mascot. And so creative, too. This is important because it’s an opportunity to show your customers your inventive genius from which, they can infer, you’re a great business person with a great product.

In the four years since, this process has continued. And how.
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You wanted to view our contents?

See the gentle respectful treatment of the content? That should tell you something.

See the gentle and respectful treatment of the content? That should tell you something. Advertisers are subtle.

Every book on building websites and blogs has stressed the following point since ancient humans first described their hunts using stick figures scrabbled onto cave walls:

Content is king.

I guess that’s why the latest It Thing that makes the internet go is building innumerable barriers to content. A new day dawns. Welcome to the Lack of Information Age.

The paradigm shift away from content is now complete. Content is an old and busted philosophy. The new reality is stark and simple. It’s called Money Grub. Low class, I know, but somehow it always comes back to the almighty dollar.

One website I really enjoy recently sent out a bulk email containing the urgent news. Web traffic is surging while revenue (dependent on advertising) is plummeting into the toilet. As you might imagine, that’s not a very effective combination. This immensely successful website is now asking for donations and characterizes the situation as their very survival at stake.

Being one of the biggest and best websites on the web is no longer good enough to guarantee survival.

Meanwhile, the assault on our eyeballs, patience and intelligence is is full swing. How do they ignore the old adage “Content is King?” Let me count the ways.
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Don’t fire until you see the whites of their teeth

Imagine that you are surfing your favorite site that offers a free service of some kind. Naturally that means you are being subjected to annoying bullshit advertisements up the ass.

By my calculations about 96 percent of the information you hear in television commercials is false. For all intents and purposes advertising is completely unregulated in the United States. On the internet apparently it’s even worse. My calculations indicate that about 112 percent of the information in online ads is false.

I’ve long since trained myself to avoid looking at online ads. It’s a skill that can be learned and I’m quite proud of it. I feel a certain sense of glee and accomplishment knowing that some idiotic son of bitch wasted his money trying to persuade me to do something contrary to my best interests.

Every once in a while, though, an ad may still catch my eye. This one had the name of my town in the ad copy, which is a sneaky bullshit attempt to make the ad appear more legitimate to me. It read, “Anytown mom discovers the $10.00 secret to white teeth.”

What the hell? Yeah, I live in “Anytown.” How the hell did they know that? I run my computer in private mode, I clean my tracking cookies, I run Ad-Aware and I like to protect myself.

The ad copy localized to my city tells me something has gone awry. Somehow, once again, you’ve bypassed my protection and figured out it’s me. Thanks for the reminder, filthy data miners. Time to scan my system and clean out my system, fuckers.

Human spam at home and on the road

Have you ever noticed how driving down the street in your own town is remarkably similar to surfing the internet? There are the real life versions of lies, false claims, pop up ads, rotating banners, yada yada yada.

Think about it.

In our town the big craze these days is what I call “Las Vegas style signs.” These are essentially giant televisions that are extremely visible to drivers. That’s a great idea, right? Distracting drivers of cars? Yeah. Great idea. It might even cause them to text message the wrong person in their address book!

As the price of these kinds of signs has come down the local merchants have slobbered all over themselves to get in on them. These are the same merchants who continually violate our city’s sign code with banners hanging on walls and fencing, signs that exceed dimensional limits, sandwich boards blocking sidewalks, etc. Another favorite tactic, sadly still legal, is to drive around town with giant ads in the back of pickup trucks. Of course I take special note of all these tactics and put the pricks on my Do Not Shop list.

The burger stand has a Las Vegas style sign. So does the mortgage company. The furniture company has one, too. So does the used car lot. And, guess what? Even the local mortuary has gotten in on the deal. I shit you not! The mortuary’s Las Vegas sign is visible through the windows of my freakin’ house.

Remember the old days when a fancy sign was the one at the bank and all it could do was display the temperature and the current time? It had something like a five-character limit. I even remember when they expanded and impresively added Celsius into the mix. Those were heady times. Then there were the “moving message board signs” where they could display short messages like “Have a nice day” in addition to the temperature and the time. A quantum leap in sign technology.

Now nothing less than a giant television will suffice.

I attended city council meetings and voiced my opposition to the signs in our small little town. If you don’t regulate them early, then you’ve screwed yourself for the long haul. Because even if you get an ordinance with some kind of limit later on, all of the signs that already have been installed because the council was asleep at the switch will be “grandfathered” and allowed to exist for the next 10 to 20 years or so. That’s the problem with city council, though. They are not proactive. They are reactive. By the time they notice a problem it’s because it’s already all over town and it’s much too late to do a damn thing about it.

The city council actually asked staff to come up with a proposal for an ordinance. I had a conversation with the director of the planning department and I told him, “You’ve got to think big. You’ve got to plan ahead. Don’t limit yourself to the Las Vegas style signs. Think holograms.” Yep. That’s right. I told him that as technology continues to go ape shit they should plan ahead and make the ordinance apply to three-dimensional space. My fear was that in just a few short years local companies will be able to buy projectors that will cast their gigantic logos up and spinning in 3D space just above their buildings and parking lots. When that day arrives I for one will gaze upon it in wonder as I slit open my own throat. Maybe they can vlog my death on Pay Per View. Damn, never thought I’d go out Lorax-style.

Of course the director thought I was nuts and totally ignored my concerns. City staff then came up with a proposal that was the weakest thing you could possibly imagine, much like using a tea bag to make yourself a 20th cup of tea. Their proposal didn’t address sign sizing, location or movement. It merely put an extremely weak limit on lumens. And then the council bickered over that lame proposal and rejected it outright. Not even that watered down joke of a proposal got passed.

And so it remains to this day. Even the mortuary brings the delicious flavors of Las Vegas to our humble little city. Joy. I bet that brings the families of the deceased a lot of comfort.

Then a big billboard company came into town and bribed property owners to put billboards on their land. These are the kind of billboards that rotate and can display multiple ads. Hey – just like rotating banners on web sites! These things seemingly popped up everywhere all over town overnight before we even knew what hit us. Once again the city council was caught flat-footed. They responded with a three month moratorium to “look into the issue” which has long since expired and nothing was ever done. I’m still waiting for someone to sell the space outside the windows of my house and block my view to the mortuary’s giant television sign.

What else can you see when driving down the street? There sure are some inventive people out there when it comes to advertising and mascots…

  • The mattress store has a mattress mascot. It’s a mattress with arms and legs and a face.
  • The newspaper has rolled a up newspaper for a mascot. It has arms, legs and a face.
  • The pizza place has a slice of pizza for a mascot. It has arms, legs and a face.
  • The local ice cream stand has an ice cream cone for a mascot. It has arms, legs and face.
  • The alarm company has an alarm sign for a mascot. It has arms, legs and a face.
  • The Kool-aid man has a pitcher of Kool-aid for a mascot. It has arms, legs and a face.

I think you get the idea. This is some amazingly clever shit we’re talking about here. Someone really put on their thinking caps. Not just anyone can think up shit this good. Madison Avenue – eat your heart out!

So these mascots stand out on the sidewalk in front of their respective businesses and wave at the drivers passing by. That is their advertising message. “I’m a mattress and I’m waving at you. Please buy our shit!” I just love the “home town feel” that our city council claims to be committed to preserving.

All good things must come to an end, though. You can’t drive forever so you eventually have to go back to the safety and sanctuary of your own home. Does the onslaught stop there? No way!

Here are two new tactics we’ve noticed in the door-to-door realm of hyper-bullshit:

  1. A clean cut young teenage boy came to our door. My wife answered. He opened with, “I’m sorry to bother you. Are your parents home?” Bedazzled by this line of pure and unmitigated gall, my wife informed the snot that he was talking to the parent. “No,” he replied. “I’m looking for your mom. You are much too young to be a mom.” HOLY BULLSHIT SUPER-HYPE, BATMAN! Offending the hell out of our intelligence with that kind of false suck-up behavior isn’t going to make the sale, young man. And I mean E-V-E-R. Not in one million years. Begone agent of Satan!
  2. A modestly dressed young teenage girl comes to our door. I answer. She opens with, “I’m looking for the man of the house.” Uh-oh. Here we go again. “That’s me,” I grunted, pounding my fists on my chest and yelling, “Ugga booga! Ugga booga! Me man, this house.” Undaunted she continued, “No, I need your parents.” ARRRGGGHHHHH!!!

I wish I could tell you I’m kidding. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating. Alas, I’m not. Apparently Jedi mind tricks like these work on some of the weak-minded out there. Just like spam, it continues because it works. These kids were coached, trained, and working from the same playbook by rote. I would not be surprised to learn they had been bussed in to work over our humble little town. Shit, maybe the local merchants even hired them.

Next time they better bring their vomit shields because they almost got a full dose of my fucking PUKE!

When does the onslaught of existence against us on all fronts ever take a fucking break????