I have a beef with advertising. There’s too much of it!
When I was a teenager (and mind you, this was a while ago!) I gave up watching television. I could not sit still during the commercials. The first one was annoying, but bearable. The second one took me to the brink of insanity and on the third I just turned the TV off. I didn’t start watching TV again until the Packers (That would be The Green Bay Packers) played in Super Bowl X??. Somehow, I could get through the commercials during football games. Maybe because it was a good time to make a pit stop or get something to eat, or maybe it was due to the fact that the inanity of the commentators actually made the commercials seem intellectual.
It is ironic, I suppose, that a person who could not stand advertising, would eventually end up in marketing! I’d like to think that my sensitivity to how bad and annoying advertising is made me a better marketer – or maybe I just made bad advertising that annoyed others.
Currently, near my house in Puerto Rico, there is a huge (and I am literally talking “building size”) advertisement about not abusing women. This ad (..and of course I support the cause – though I honestly believe that no one should hit anyone, regardless of gender…) covers the entire northern side of a government building (Minillas Center, for those of you familiar with San Juan). So the ad is at least 15 stories high, and because the building is basically a cube – perhaps about 15 stories wide, too. I often wonder if an ad that big is a constant reminder that hitting women is part of our culture and, instead of a deterrent, is actual a constant reminder along the lines of “Have you hit your wife today?”
That completely obfuscates the issue of how the building, unattractive as it may be, is actually visibly more attractive than a huge ad. Then consider that this huge ad is lit by any number of floodlights at night – adding to the light pollution in Puerto Rico (which is prodigious if you remember the Y2K map in Nat Geo.) Is somebody making money from this ad? Must be or I’d like to think it would have been take down long ago.
What does all this have to do with a travel blog? Last Thursday, I flew from San Juan up to Chicago, a very common route in my life of shuttling between Puerto Rico and Wisconsin. Naturally, the first stop off the plane in O’Hare is the Ladies Room. Lo and behold, the LR has been up-graded! There are now very fancy mirrors over the sinks that have… guess what? Electronic advertising! While you are counting to 20 or singing the ABC song as you soap your hands (which I sincerely hope you are doing) you can watch a stream of ads to rival YouTube. Yikes!
Ok, so progress has come to the LRs of O’Hare. Walking toward baggage claim, one gets to walk in the best part of the airport (and I am not being facetious). This is the corridor where the flags of all the countries (that you can fly into O’Hare from maybe?) hang from the cornice and at the end there is a big metal globe of the world. It has always fascinated me, because I love flags. But, something new is now gracing that flag-draped corridor: Advertising on each and every column holding up the cornice and the ceiling. Yes, there has always been poster-like advertising on the walls, and that is still there, looking quite unobtrusive, compared to an entire corridor where every column is completely wall-papered floor to ceiling with an ad. Talk about sight-pollution! This ugly distraction of enormous blue and white ads is awful.
You’d think that would be enough, but it seems advertisers get a package deal now when they want to advertise at O’Hare. Another innovation: Advertising on the handrail of the escalators. Now, don’t assume that this advertising is static, and that once you put your hand on the hand rail you’re stuck looking at the same ad all the way down or up the escalator. Much too 20th century. The 21st century version has the ads scrolling in the opposite direction to the one you are travelling so you get to see a whole string of ads. You almost feel like you should walk backwards on the steps so that you can read each and every ad. Wouldn’t that cause a hullabaloo!
Wouldn’t it be just so novel to actually be able to look at the faces of the other living human beings around us or the architectural design that resulted from some human desire to meld beauty with function? I think you have to admit that consumerism is running rampant throughout our country when we have to look at advertising while we wash our hands and ride the escalator!