It comes with the territory of a consumerism-driven economy, I suppose. It doesn’t mean I have to like it. It doesn’t make it right.
They’re everywhere, you see. Posters and billboards are one thing. Then, with the growth of television came the growth of the commercial break, which has gotten longer and longer, eating away at the actual program time like a cancer. (Especially on television miniseries–I swear sometimes you get 10 minutes of commercials for every 15 minutes of program!)
In recent years came the appearance of the… I don’t know what you call it. Where a commercial appears in the bottom corner of the screen during a program. It’s not enough the hours of commercials one is forced to sit through, now they advertise during the show as well! You’re in the middle of Gladiator, probably taping it too, and suddenly there’s a swishing noise as this little scalpel appears in the corner, carving out the words, Nip/Tuck, Friday night at 10!
Skywriters in the sky. Flyers left in your mail box. Junk mail. Email SPAM. (“Increase your bust by up to three cup sizes, the natural way!“) Infomercials. Pop-ups. Random toolbars that appear atop your browser screen. Door-to-door salesmen. Telemarketers.
(There was a telemarketer today that didn’t know when to quit. We told him we were on the “Do Not Call” list, and he just kept talking. We asked him to take our number off the list, and he kept starting his spiel over. We then asked to speak to his manager, asked his name, asked what company he worked for. Wouldn’t give us any of it. Just kept saying, “Sir, I can address that after you’ve listened to…” and going on with what he wanted to say.
I told him that it was illegal for him to knowingly continue after being informed we were on the Do Not Call list. At this point he banged the phone repeatedly on his desk and yelled at me to stop interrupting him.)
Then there’s that guy who hired his forehead out as advertising space.
Have you ever been to an old-fashioned marketplace, the kind they have in the piazzas of Italy or the bazaars of the East? Vendors standing by their stalls, displaying their wares. Occasionally they will call to you as you walk by, if they are not helping a customer at the moment. (“Leather journals!” “The finest tea you can find, right here!“) This is only natural.
Now, imagine American spammer-advertisers, hawking their wares in a similar mercado.
(“BUY MY PRODUCT!” one shrieks, advancing toward you with a bust-enhancer in each hand. “BUY IT NOW!”
You back away, only to come too close to another stall, whose vendor becomes aware of you. Before you see him, he’s crowding in on you. “MEET HOT SINGLES–CLICK HERE!” he bellows in your ear. He grabs your sleeve. “YOU ARE A [MAN] SEEKING A [WOMAN] AGES [18-25]!”
You pull out of his grasp. Looking wildly to either side, you make for a break between the surrounding stalls… only to find your way blocked by a beefy-looking vendor a full foot taller than you. He doesn’t bother advertising, but he grabs your hand and presses something against the back of your hand. There is a momentary pain, and when you pull away you see words indeliably marked on your skin. SHOP AT JOE’S COMPUTER EMPORIUM, it reads. You rub at it frantically but, like a brand, the words will not even smudge. The vendor grins a gap-toothed grin at you.
Then it is too late–the others have caught up with you. Hands grab you from behind.)
I want to be wooed as a lover.
I want to be captivated by the quality of an advertiser’s product. I want to be drawn in, never forced, never pressured. The advertiser, having (at the proper moment) caught my attention, should wait quietly, building my trust, until that moment when I either surrender and yeild the contents of my wallet, or decide against it and walk away. And if I walk away, the advertiser should let me go, perhaps shedding a few silent tears for what might have been, or whispering, “Somewhere out there, there’s a product that’s right for you,” in a mournful tone, but not dragging out the break-up longer than neccessary for closure.
Today’s advertisers do not woo as lovers. They instead shove themselves at us, force themselves upon us.
We have a word for such actions.