Did you know that KFC branches have about 40-80 company centric advertisements in a branch? (on a side note: why KFC bothered changing the name is beyond me… who on earth thinks that KFC is healthier than Kentucky Fried Chicken? Anyway I digress.)
The other day caught I was walking by a KFC which, despite my attempts to embargo all types of advertising, couldn’t be avoided. It hit me like walking into an IMAX screen. It must have occupied the entire peripheral vision of anyone remotely near Europe or flying over it.
Avoiding advertising is I believe is, in principle, a good idea – as eliminating it is virtually impossible. Living in a large cities requires the acceptance of a certain amount of advertising in your day to day life. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that advertising can add value such as education but think about it when was the last time you saw a commercial that made you feel sufficiently informed about a product or service – enough to buy it to buy I mean?
No, what is more common is that we look at commercial or ad, as we say in North America, and the advertising is directed more at sex, drugs (alcohol to pharmaceuticals), and rock and roll (associations with songs and lyrics that are supposed to be meaningful for your demographic).
Think about your favorite adverts. It is must admit that most of what are memorable ads are in fact memorable ads, but they don’t help to us to remember what product they are advertising. These are the ads that usually win the awards too. Think about it, the most memorable ads – most people can’t even remember what they were selling and that has been a global phenomena not just a local one (eg. Get upba… get upba…wasn’t that a great ad for Orangina??? Can you remember without thinking to hard, was it really an Orangina ad???)
If you think about it, it is hard to come up with more than a few examples of ads that are information led. As a result everyone tries to spread their message by more and more and ever more placement which eventually spirals into giant screens screaming out to you KFC’s offers of the moment. Because bombardment and not actual education has become the goal of the advertising industry, the industry looks for more and more ways to throw their brands. If advertising allowed for 33% branding content and 67% information I believe that both image and content.
So instead of having an educative value they rely on the rule that most people need to see a brand (anything for that matter) 26-28 times before it will stick in the long term memory. But, now there seems to be a race to achieve that number rather than think about how the product or service is going to make our lives better.
I started out with the objective of an advertising embargo. Realistically, living in the center of London I have had to cut that back to meet the demands of living in the center of a city like London. Now, I have gotten about, what I think must be, 80% of advertising out of my life. When I try something like this I always give it a 6-8 weeks to see if it really makes any difference to my life… like when I gave up meat, or diet cola etc. Most of my experiments have yielded little in the way of a result that made me think it was worth continuing ie. becoming a vegetarian (which I did not because I love animals, but because I hate vegetables). This experience has proven to me that there is more to life when I consume less advertising.
I know that advertising isn’t going anywhere but honestly, when does it all end? When businesses start calling your house at all hours with recorded messages, adverts on your phone, in your email, in your snail mail, on the TV, on transport and park benches on the wall in front of your car as you park, airplanes drag banners and enormous CO2 omission across the sky, in planes, trains and automobiles, in the taxi, on the tube, buses, parks, T-shirts, magazines, condom machines, urinals, business cards, texts, websites, newspapers, your wardrobe, schools and educational materials, look at how the launch of BING made its way on to the television shows that we are watching that are no supposed to have product endorsements – C.S.I Miami to name just one example on the BING gravy train. What is next? Where do we go from here? When you are wiping your ass with toilet paper endorsed by hemorrhoid cream? Is that exaggeration? Ask yourself how deep and intimate advertising already is in your life, before you think I am losing the plot.
I, for one, am going to monitor what advertising what comes into my life and continue to ignore the vast majority of it. I have had enough. It is getting crazy. And given what we know about subliminal messages how can anyone ever really say in this day and age that The Manchurian Candidate is a work of fiction?