Advertising is one of those annoying-yet-necessary things, but lately I’ve been finding it more annoying than necessary. A few examples, culled from my mundane existence:
:: Is anyone really more likely to do business with some company because that company happens to have bought naming rights to a particular stadium or sports venue? Maybe; but I certainly couldn’t tell you without looking it up just what Qualcomm, 3Com, or Cinergi do. The scramble by the Houston Astros to get the name “Enron” off their ballpark (and which may well be followed by a similar scramble by the Tennessee Titans, who play in Adelphia Stadium) strikes me as a kind of corporate karma in action.
:: I recall a few years back some company was perfecting a type of “rolling billboard” that would be superimposed on the image during baseball games on television. The ads would be positioned to appear like the ads that are frequently painted on the field’s walls, but as the effect would be like a “bluescreen”, different ads — tailored to fit the market in which the game is being aired — would be superimposed. Thus, a person watching a Yankees game in Buffalo would see a logo for, say, Ted’s Hot Dogs on the wall behind the left fielder, while a person watching that same game in New Jersey might see the IHOP logo.
:: Do we really need to imprint advertising slogans — for cigarettes, no less — on the plastic rod that one uses at the grocery store to separate one’s groceries from the next person’s at the checkout lane? Do people really pick up that rod and, in the process of plunking it down on the conveyor belt, realize that they are low on Marlboro’s?
:: Advertisers have apparently figured out the only real way to overcome the fact that most people use television commercials as an excuse to go the refridgerator or bathroom: they jack up the decibel level of the commercials themselves. It’s not at all uncommon for me to have to turn up whatever show I am watching, in order to hear the dialogue properly, only to have to quickly turn the thing back down once the commercials begin.
:: Pop-up ads on the Web were annoying when I first encountered them, but I got used to them. (They also tended to crash the AOL browser when they first came into use.) Pop-unders were more annoying; the browser window containing the page that I am trying to read would freeze while the pop-under ad loads. Then the pop-under advertisers started setting up their ads so the windows would open with the entire right half of the ad off the screen, so in order to close the thing one had to click-and-drag the ad back into full view just to get at the “close” button in the upper left, thus increasing the chance that one might read the ad, however inadvertently. (I get around this by right-clicking the title-bar and then clicking “Close”.) Well, some wonderful genius has figured out a new twist: the other day I received a pop-under ad that, when I closed my main browser window, actually started moving around my screen, in a circular motion, and fairly rapidly — rapidly enough that I couldn’t even right-click the thing to close it (much less click the “close” button), but still slow enough that the ad slogan could be made out. This detestable thing swirled around my screen — defying the Coriolis effect, mind you — for a full five seconds.
:: In Buffalo, the local NBC affiliate broadcasts each night’s New York State Lottery drawings. This, of course, means that while watching any NBC show in Buffalo one is subjected to one of those little “corner images” that every network does now — this one telling us what the current jackpot is.
I could go on, but that’s probably enough cantankerousness for one day.