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Advertising Annoyances

by Archives November 16, 2005

The average North American is exposed to upwards of 3000 advertisements a day and the number is rising.

Imagine you’re out in the country, looking up at the night sky. Aren’t the thousands upon thousands of stars beautiful? Wait a second, is that a plane? No, it’s way too big. It looks like a giant banner: Ship with FedEx.

A few years ago, Space Marketing Inc. was planning to launch 1.6 km by 0.8 km banners made of reflective Mylar plastic into low orbit. From our perspective, these banners would be the size of the moon.

This is the same company that put the Pizza Hut logo on a Russian Proton rocket. The company is also responsible for an astronaut demanding a particular brand of beef jerky be brought to him on the International Space Station.

On May 19 the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a rule that would prohibit advertising that could be seen in orbit with the naked eye. Too bad the FAA only has jurisdiction in the U.S.

The number of pieces of junk-mail delivered annually in the U.S. has tripled in the last 25 years to 77 billion. If you placed one year’s worth end-to-end, it would stretch 17 million km. That’s enough junk mail to go around the earth’s equator 422 times. In just over three years we would have enough junk-mail to reach Mars. Statistically speaking, more households receive junk-mail than have working toilets.

What about the trucks whose sole purpose is lugging a giant advertisement behind them? These are just what we need in a city with traffic jams, limited parking and roads littered with small craters, not to mention oil shortages and climate change. Maybe these businesses shouldn’t be eligible for a gasoline tax refund.

With the increasing popularity of digital video recorders like TiVo that can cut out commercials, advertisers have turned to product placement. Nothing takes you out of a show like a five-second close-up on the bottle of Heineken the protagonist is drinking. The most laughable product placement I’ve seen was in the popular television show 24 when the Counter-Terrorism Unit was saved from a terrorist’s online attack by “Cisco’s Self-Defending Networks.”

Why do we put up with something as annoying as advertising? Maybe it’s because the more we’re bombarded with advertisements, the more desensitised we become. None of us thinks twice about radio or television ads. We sift junk mail from bills with mechanical efficiency. Will the day come when we have to mentally ignore giant banners in the sky?

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