Friday, July 25, 2014

The Ad Council Tells Me

I walk to work some mornings, passing many bus shelters. Over the last several months, maybe two years, I have been seeing many advertisements on them with an "Ad Council" mark near the bottom. I learn from them that

  • We should save money.
  • We should set examples for our children.
  • We should listen to our children.
  • We should talk to our children.
  • We should give our children healthier snacks. ("Change Your Child's Snack for Good": I think the item shown was a mango.)
  • We should become teachers, make a difference, and make more. Alternatively, we should become a teacher since there is no reason to be anyone when we could be someone.
  • We should not drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • Avoiding eye contact is a sign of autism.
  • We should do more to keep high school students from dropping out.
  • We should save energy.
I don't necessarily disagree with any of these, though I bet that most of those avoiding eye contact around bus shelters and on buses are attractive women who are not even slightly autistic. But I do wonder

  • Whether the firms advocating thrift had any part of Citbank's "Live Richly" campaign some years ago, the one that was going on even as the banking industry was lobbying to make personal bankruptcy harder.
  • Whether the firms that want us serve our children mangoes have any snack food accounts.
  • How many of the designers at the firms would really care to work at a teacher's salary.
  • How much the ubiquity of these public service advertisements has to do with a depressed market for outdoor advertising.


  1. Rest assured that most advertisers are "hypocrites" in that they are intent upon altering the attitudes and behaviors of others (but not their own attitudes and behaviors), and their motive to do so is mercenary rather than altruistic. Am I being too cynical? Perhaps. But this is how I have viewed advertisements ever since reading Marshall McCluhan and Vance Packard many, many years ago.

    1. I don't object to advertisements per se, though some varieties annoy me. And perhaps if I passed the snack advertisement once a month rather than thrice a week, I wouldn't even notice. By McLuhan you are referring to The Mechanical Bride? That is a book I really should track down and read again.

    2. I forget the McLuhan title, but I remember something about medium as message/massage.