I want what the Duluth Trading Company guy is selling in his deep baritone, no nonsense voice. So what if their “buck naked underwear” is for men. I know I’m not alone.
A highly educated colleague confided that on sleepless nights, he has a tough time resisting TV pitches urging, “Call now! Get two MiracleVacs for the price of one AND the never-needs-sharpening knife set for the low, one-time only price of $99.99.” And don’t get me started on product placement: Those Krispy Crème Donuts on your favorite cop show are for YOU.
Today we’re bombarded with advertising – running alongside our Facebook messages, standing between us and our apps (“You can skip this ad in 5 seconds”), preceding previews at the movie theater (a former ad-free sanctuary), and popping up uninvited on every website.
Knowing the difference between what we want and what we need is our only defense against this onslaught of targeted (and subliminal) marketing. How about requiring each intrusion to be preceded by a loud blaring sound or flashing lights announcing, “We interrupt your activity of choice with a commercial message designed to activate impulse buying”?
One of my favorite advertising ploys is “Call your doctor if your erection lasts more than 4 hours.” What past-his-prime Romeo wouldn’t run to the drugstore to buy those little blue pills (out the door before hearing “this may cause convulsions,” leaving millions of Golden Girls scrambling for new reasons to say,” Not tonight, dear”)?
I wish newspapers didn’t need advertising to survive. Then I could read the NY Times online without seeing red sandals I clicked on but realized I don’t need streaming across the top of the screen, and lawn chairs I considered buying rolling down the right-hand margin. Why would shoes and lawn chairs compete for my attention when I’m reading about California’s water crisis? Because today’s Mad Men (and women) not only know where to find me when I’m online but can tailor marketing messages directly to me. Spooky but true. Here’s an idea: When I decide not to buy something in my online shopping cart could I check “Final Decision” and put that item to rest? Please?
Technology makes targeted marketing easy. Credit card purchases and store loyalty programs leave a trail of bread crumbs to your past purchases and buying patterns. Did you know that social media sites offer a free demographic breakdown of your followers?
Today as I caught up on Russian-American relations I had to jump past an ad for some new townhouses near me. (Did my subconscious start wondering if I want to move, while my conscious mind was screaming “no way”?) I’m a sitting duck for whatever the data-sifting techies decide to run by me. Two-thirds through the foreign affairs article I had to leap over a beach scene hawking low air fares to Hawaii – something I might want but in what universe would I need? The reward at the end of the article? An ad for California Closets. (Have they been to my house?)
SkyMall, born in 1990 to entice air travelers with items like a hooded doggy raincoat, is rising from the ashes in a new format now that passengers can shop using SmartPhones and such. Wedged in, seat belts on, they’re the quintessential captive audience for online marketers.
Pity my poor grandchildren. They’re growing up in a world George Orwell couldn’t have foreseen. My grandson, an avid fan of American Ninja Warrior, asked his mom to buy POM Wonderful (100% pomegranate juice). He was responding to a calculated campaign cooked up by mind-manipulating forces that made him want it. Here’s what Business Wire reports this 11 year-old was up against:
As season-long partner, POM branding will be integrated into each episode…. NBC and POM also will share show segments across social media platforms. Additionally, on-air spots promoting POM’s “Crazy Healthy” campaign will run weekly during “American Ninja Warrior” episodes.
Orwell did imagine Big Brother: We call it Google. That corporate behemoth figures out how to get you to press the “BUY” button by tracking the websites you visit; the mobile apps you download; the DoubleClick cookie on your browser; and how you respond to Google’s ads.
Do you want or need those items they’re tempting you to buy? Resist, resist, resist.
Oh wait…email alert. Flash sale at Bloomingdale’s!