April 9th, 2007
anti-advertising crusade marches on

I am currently battling a cold that seems to be unwilling to release it’s grip (i thought I was winning for the last couple of days) but I feel compelled to post these images I found in the recent issue of adbusters. If i ever had doubts about my crusade against the proliferation of advertising in the modern world (which are actually few to none these days), these images help to erase them completely.
The first image is a playground in India. I need not write any of my own feelings about this here, instead I’ll let you experience your own reaction. suffice to say this is not the kind of world i want to live in.


The second image I am sad to say is from my country’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. What is happening in this instance is that the lines between advertising and content are blurred in a literal way, (the fries are actually the article). I suppose one could say that ‘at least they are not hiding their intent’. But I can pretty much guarantee that the article is not about healthy eating, (this would never be allowed). Those who argue that advertising does not affect content have no basis for an argument in this case.

Further reading of the issue reveals that according to some new poll data by Yankelovich the number of ads that an average urban dweller in a rich nation is exposed to on a daily basis has increased from 3,000 to 5,000. Recently an artist created this video which demonstrates how this is possible. (link via the anti-advertising agency).
i must add another link found at the aaa which had me laughing out loud. I can say that I wholeheartedly echo David Lynch’s feelings on the subject of product placement.
correction: as one sleuth-like reader has uncovered, the “fries editorial” was run as an ad only, not as a combination editorial/ad (I misunderstood the article it seems). thank you ann for doing this investigation.

Apr 9 2007
12:35 pm
Ann D writes:

Keri, thanks so much for posting about this. I have been really dismayed to see how the idea of their even being lines between editorial and advertising has become an antiquated notion. We’re selling everything these days.

Apr 9 2007
3:22 pm
Ann D writes:

I did some research on the McDonalds ad above because it was really bothering me. Here’s what I found out over at Digg:
by synapticcleft on 2/22/07
+ 45 diggs
This ad won a contest held by the Globe and Mail for most creative ad in a newspaper. The prize was free advertising space in the Globe. The page the ad appears is not part of the newspaper, the whole page is the ad (in other words, the ad is not covering over any real stories).
http://digg.com/offbeat_news/McDonald_s_Now_This_Is_Creative_Advertisement
It’s reassuring to know it didn’t run as a “real ad” in the actual newspaper, but an indication of the times in which we live that we thought it could have.

Apr 9 2007
4:15 pm
Kira writes:

OMG. I think that kind of stuff is just…wrong. It makes me SO ANGRY to see that everything is open for advertisement and such. Can’t a slide just be a damn slide?!

Apr 9 2007
5:23 pm
matthew h writes:

I was confused when I first saw your post, because I didn’t see the ads and wondered why you hadn’t linked to them. Then I realized that my Firefox Adblock filter had prevented the images from loading… so I guess it’s doing its job!
Also, here’s another quote:
“…centuries from now our great-great-great-grandchildren will look back at us with amazement at how we could allow such a precious achievement of human culture as the telling of a story to be shattered into smithereens by commercials, the same amazement we feel today when we look at our ancestors for whom slavery, capital punishment, burning of witches, and the inquisition were acceptable everyday events.”
- Werner Herzog

Apr 9 2007
10:15 pm
Kim writes:

Thanks for keeping people aware – I think people just breathe it in like air these days! I was recently on the UCLA campus here in sunny So Cal, and was amazed how many square feet were given to advertising to the students- I had gone to private school and we were exempt from such targeted capitalism.

Apr 10 2007
10:33 am
d.chedwick writes:

What really bugs me is that the Seattle Mariners play in SAFECO field, and Seattle is perfectly OK with that. You go to some event, say a concert, and there is advertising plastered all over everywhere–but then you are sitting inside the Pepsi Theatre or the Citibank Center, or the Exxon Dome. Naming places after huge corporations is just sick. and the names will be meaningless to kids growing up with them–there will be a disconnect between name and the place. It probably started with things like Hallmark hall of fame and texaco Star theatre, but it spread to the point where it is a disease.

Apr 10 2007
11:37 am
shell writes:

I agree that its horrible to use a slide for advertising, but the lines are so very jumbled now.
for example at my local highschool only dr. pepper drinks are allowed to be sold. They advertise there and the sponser the schools sport events, the school and parents are happy because the school can focus more money on the education. Plus when you add in things like tivo and watching tv online, no one has to watch a commerical any more. The downside is that the advertisers have to be more and more clever about hiding things all around us. So if we want to skip commericals and have free entertainment, what are we going to sacrifice?

Apr 10 2007
4:19 pm
leslie writes:

The slide is really upsetting. 5,000 ads a day? omg. I heard that Brazil banned outdoor advertising because it was just too much for everybody to take. I wonder if that would ever happen here?

Apr 10 2007
5:47 pm
rama writes:

on the other hand, if the slide was just a painting of a woman’s hair, that would be pretty cool.
it’s weird to think how so much of art is advertising ~ for pharoahs and monarchies and religion and now hairspray and french fries.

Apr 10 2007
7:03 pm
Kate writes:

The slippery dip is very disturbing,it took me a longtime to adjust to american magazines when i first got them – I had to wade SO hard through them to find any content I’d never seen so many ads.
But the most disturbing thing I saw in the US were mental illness related drugs being advertised,this was in 2000,it still mystifys me as I had never seen a drug ad before [they are banned in Australia] but there they were on every few minutes.How they can market the mind and human emotion is beyond be.
teenscreentruth.com and baumhedlundlaw.com sheds further study.
I wanted to comment on your Hesse entry but it wouldnt allow me,if you love Hesses take on trees you should really read Wendell Berry.I adore him
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0GER/is_2000_Fall/ai_66240400/pg_2

Apr 10 2007
7:52 pm
eryn writes:

“I wish all consumers were as gullible as advertising’s biggest critics. Anyone who believes advertising is that powerful will believe almost anything. ”
Jef I. Richards
I understand that you want to live your life without others telling you what to do or buy. But why do you give the advertising so much credit? Have faith in yourself and your society that each person will make a decision for themselves about every action they take.
If someone told you to jump off a bridge would you do it? So don’t buy McDonalds eather.
I feel advertising is an art form. Its a balance of marketing and the ability to stick in your mind. I’m not saying there are not bad ads out there that send the wrong message. But you don’t hate every teacher because a few of them are fucked in the head.
I don’t dispute that we see MANY ads a day, but that video was just showing brandnames on buildings and debit machines! There was a few ads in the subway but I feel they could have done a much better job of this.
I’m just honestly sick and tired of people bashing advertising when they fail to really understand it.
I feel like everyone reading this isn’t going to like what I just said.

Apr 10 2007
8:19 pm
keri Smith writes:

eryn,
it’s not a matter of liking or disliking what you have said, it is just a difference of opinion.
you believe that ads are not harmful, and I do.
i choose to no longer to defend my position to everyone who disagrees with me on this as it takes up way too much of my energy (and there are many critics on this subject). it is not for me to try and make you change your position. This is what I believe, and I feel very strongly about it, (and I feel strongly about sharing whatever items I find to be disturbing.)
if you find my opinions offenisve (or you are just “sick and tired” of them) then I suggest you find some other blogs to read. I do not say this in anger, just matter of factly.

Apr 10 2007
8:19 pm
keri Smith writes:

eryn,
it’s not a matter of liking or disliking what you have said, it is just a difference of opinion.
you believe that ads are not harmful, and I do.
i choose to no longer to defend my position to everyone who disagrees with me on this as it takes up way too much of my energy (and there are many critics on this subject). it is not for me to try and make you change your position. This is what I believe, and I feel very strongly about it, (and I feel strongly about sharing whatever items I find to be disturbing.)
if you find my opinions offenisve (or you are just “sick and tired” of them) then I suggest you find some other blogs to read. I do not say this in anger, just matter of factly.

Apr 11 2007
5:42 pm
Sabine writes:

That David Lynch video just made my day. I laughed even harder when I saw on Youtube in the “related video” section someone re-did the video exactly, except they replaced David Lynch with a Gumby figurine.

Apr 12 2007
9:37 pm
shelley Noble writes:

Reaction to the increase of ads is natural. I feel however, it’s a reaction to the symptom not to underlying causes.
Ad placement literally everywhere (such is the creative nature of a motivated mind) is the result of fundamental mindsets toward $M$O$N$E$Y above all else. We know that money is meaningless, but the majority in this country (I’d like to spell it as it sounds) do not. We see that in military/industrial/congressional infrastructures to be the case. We see it demonstrated further by looking at who(m) in our culture are paid/valued (?) the most. Etc.
The world you and I are comfortable in would be a horror to those living centuries past. And so it goes. The constancy of change.

Apr 12 2007
9:51 pm
shelley Noble writes:

Keri, I am certain you have thoroughly thought this distinction through but I just clicked on the link to your NEW BOOK (congratulations on it, by the way) and I said to myself, “Hey–that’s an AD!!!!!!!
I’m in favor of ink links for many reasons but at some deep level isn’t selling the crap the same as selling the something goods? Isn’t just “making it known and available” the same way down there?

Apr 13 2007
8:40 am
keri Smith writes:

Shelley,
I think my position has been misunderstood by you and many other readers in the past. Speaking out against the overuse of ads in our culture does not contradict my putting things out into the world as an artist. I have explained this point many times in the debate about ad free blog, (sorry for those who have read this all before, but I really want people to understand my stance on this).
What I am speaking out against is not the fact that advertising exists (though at times I admit I wish it didn’t), it is the issue of appropriateness and restraint. I am drawing a line around what I deem is an inappropriate space for advertising to exist, (children’s playgrounds, mass media, blogs, etc.) One of my readers said it well:
“Believing that corporations need to have their presence in public life limited is perfectly compatible with working for those corporations.” (we can add to this “putting my own ideas/products/art out into the world”).
I believe it is imperative that we have an open dialogue on this subject, and yet this seems almost nonexistent in the current culture. I am hoping to change that at least a little in speaking out about it. And on a personal level I feel it’s really important to send a message to these corporations that “I am not okay with what you are doing. You have gone too far.” That is the basis for democracy. I liken it to working for a company that is taking advantage of it’s workers, and the workers speaking up and saying “no”. Frankly I am amazed that people have a problem with me questioning it at all. I want to ask as many questions as I can? How does this affect culture? Children? Exactly what is the role of advertising in our culture? Why should we just accept it as “the way the world is”? Personally, I say ‘no way’. Advertising on a slide in a playground is not okay. I am opposed to it occuring on every square inch of our world and I think there should be some restrictions and limitations put on it’s use.
You can read more of my thoughts on the matter here: http://www.adfreeblog.org/faq
If I sound a bit defensive its because I have been met with this question a lot, and I get a bit tired of the implication that because we exist in a culture of advertising we cannot question its usage or message, (or set limitations on it).
and my cold is also making me feel worn and winded.
hope that helps.

Apr 13 2007
8:40 am
keri Smith writes:

Shelley,
I think my position has been misunderstood by you and many other readers in the past. Speaking out against the overuse of ads in our culture does not contradict my putting things out into the world as an artist. I have explained this point many times in the debate about ad free blog, (sorry for those who have read this all before, but I really want people to understand my stance on this).
What I am speaking out against is not the fact that advertising exists (though at times I admit I wish it didn’t), it is the issue of appropriateness and restraint. I am drawing a line around what I deem is an inappropriate space for advertising to exist, (children’s playgrounds, mass media, blogs, etc.) One of my readers said it well:
“Believing that corporations need to have their presence in public life limited is perfectly compatible with working for those corporations.” (we can add to this “putting my own ideas/products/art out into the world”).
I believe it is imperative that we have an open dialogue on this subject, and yet this seems almost nonexistent in the current culture. I am hoping to change that at least a little in speaking out about it. And on a personal level I feel it’s really important to send a message to these corporations that “I am not okay with what you are doing. You have gone too far.” That is the basis for democracy. I liken it to working for a company that is taking advantage of it’s workers, and the workers speaking up and saying “no”. Frankly I am amazed that people have a problem with me questioning it at all. I want to ask as many questions as I can? How does this affect culture? Children? Exactly what is the role of advertising in our culture? Why should we just accept it as “the way the world is”? Personally, I say ‘no way’. Advertising on a slide in a playground is not okay. I am opposed to it occuring on every square inch of our world and I think there should be some restrictions and limitations put on it’s use.
You can read more of my thoughts on the matter here: http://www.adfreeblog.org/faq
If I sound a bit defensive its because I have been met with this question a lot, and I get a bit tired of the implication that because we exist in a culture of advertising we cannot question its usage or message, (or set limitations on it).
and my cold is also making me feel worn and winded.
hope that helps.

Apr 14 2007
2:15 pm
Debbie writes:

Hello,
I know my post is a little late, but I do freelance design so I am very aware of how much advertising is going on. What is extremely scary is the amount of ads children are seeing. I read an article recently stating the amount children are seeing is something like 5x’s the amount they use to. Here is a perfect example. My son has the movie Shark Tales(funny it’s on tonight) and I have to say the amount of logos(they are changed to fit the city, but they are completely reconizable) for all the big companies (BK, GAP, Coke etc..)are plastered all over the city that the fish live in. Another friend who is ITB watched it with us and he lost count I think after 30. Children are being taught at an early age of where to shop, what/where to eat and they and their parents don’t even realize it. It is very scary. I call it the brain washing of America.

Apr 16 2007
10:56 pm
french toast girl writes:

I’ve been a fan of yours for quite a while – Keri, you were kind enough to post back to me about my Leaping post on my blog back in January. (http://www.frenchtoastgirl.com/weblog/2007/01/leaping-part-2.shtml).
I also really appreciate your adfree blog site and all its links, especially to the Commerical Free Childhood site – with three children aged 4 and under, we’re super-observant about how much garbage gets pushed at them. The more I read, the more I notice just how much is targeted at them, and how much the average person is bombarded with every day.
Anyway, I was looking up your address to send someone to http://www.adfreeblog.org and I typed in http://adfreeblog.com instead. No doubt you’ve already seen this, but they’re doing a take on your work, and taking ads to boot. Not sure what you can do about it, but I’ve found a good “remove my artwork in 24 hours or you will be hearing from my lawyer” works well for me.
You are an inspiration, keep up the good work and hope that cold goes away soon.

Apr 18 2007
7:45 pm
Aimee writes:

Ann D, I thought that the McDonalds page had to be a full ad. I am glad that you found out for sure that it was.
For some reason, I have the feeling that the slide may not be a totally honest photo either. It looks like it could have been Photoshopped, a good job of it, but it just looks off to me. I have been trying to find out any info on it but haven’t seen any. All I can say is that I hope it is a fake photo made to prove a point, and not the way things are actually going.
I am not against most ads, and have ads on my blog, but I can totally see the point in trying to cut back the amount of images we are exposed to in a day. I hate it when I am watching a show to be entertained and find ads placed in the dialouge and background.

Apr 23 2007
1:37 pm
romanlily writes:

(Oh, man. That David Lynch bit was absolutely priceless.)


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