The pervasiveness of advertising

Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief.
~Leo Burnett

You can’t go anywhere in America and not see advertising. It’s not just on TV. It’s not just pop-ups on the internet, nor is it just billboards and junk mail.

It’s the Pepsi logo on my drink, which also sports the logo for the burrito place I work for. It’s the bullshit stickers all over my bicycle that I didn’t put there. It’s the decals on the back of my car that say “Nissan Versa.” It’s also, more innocently, the three Greek letters on the front of my shirt.

Some of these I can excuse. Knowing what brand of bicycle I got off of Freecycle is potentially useful. I did get the drink from work, so having the restaurant’s logo on it makes sense (although the same doesn’t apply to the Pepsi logo, especially as I don’t drink Pepsi). And I wear the shirt for solidarity purposes (and to get a laugh when people tell me they’ve never heard of Delta Psi Phi).

The logo on my car I could live without. Really. I know it’s a Nissan Versa, and if I forget, I have the owner’s manual. Hell, the decals are on the back of the car where I can’t see them. I don’t really need a shirt that advertises Eukanuba, although I at least got it for free…I still don’t understand how people pay for a shirt that is gray with “OLD NAVY” splashed across the front. If my breasts are to be a billboard, please at least give me the shirt free. I’d prefer it if you paid me to wear the shirt, but free will work.

And that’s what I find most amazing. People PAY to advertise a company. Victoria Secret, Old Navy, American Eagle. It’s not a “Hey, we’ll give you X amount off for the work if you put this decal on your car.” It’s “You pay us a premium and we let you advertise our shit.”

One could argue that wearing a shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch is no different than wearing a shirt that has the cover art for a Mindless Self Indulgence album on it. It would be a good argument. But at least the MSI shirt has a design on it (even if one does not consider it art), where an Old Navy shirt often sports nothing more than plain text.

I can’t think of a good reason why anyone would pay to advertise Victoria Secret’s “LOVE PINK” “PINK LOVE” “LINK POVE” “KARL ROVE?” clothing. Sure, some of them do have designs, but they seem to be afterthoughts. But the VS line looks positively embellished compared to many of the advershirts I see running around. Some of them are better than others (Old Navy had some nice Halloween shirts where the logo took a very backseat to some nice designs). But most seem to be blatant: “I BOUGHT THIS SHIRT AT __________.” (Although occasionally that does seem to be the point. Less a form of on-upmanship and more a form of douchebaggery.)

I think it just points to the continued consumerization of our lives. We’re so accustomed to it that it’s like the air we breathe…we fail to notice it. And so advertising must become more pervasive, invade more of our lives.

I’m not going to say “quit buying branded things.” I’m not going to say “toss your advershirts.” I own a couple, and the line between advershirt and not-advershirt is impossible to define. But I will say “start paying attention.” Don’t just look. See. Advertising is everywhere.

2 Responses to “The pervasiveness of advertising”

  1. Dargon Says:

    As you stated, some of the advertizing makes sense. With regards to the Pepsi logo on that cup, I’m sure there’s a contract in there and Freebirds makes money off of putting that logo on there, so it doesn’t bug me.

    The car make and model being on the car, that’s the car company letting other drivers know what you’re driving, hoping they might want one.

    As for the band shirt vs the brand shirt, with the band shirt, some of the merchandising money may have gone to the band, Thereby possably supporting more music, tours, etc, whereas the brand shirt sponsored…more brand shirts. Additionally, the band shirt has the tendency to bring about comments from random people with regards to said band, and from there bring about converstions that might not have happened otherwise. Brand shirts, not so much.

    If we wanna go real crazy here, even shirts that are not advertizing a brand or product are still advertizing something about the personality of the wearer. So by that token, there is no such thing as non-advertising.

    That being said, today is a day for advertizing catapult Turtles.

    • cwnmamau Says:

      I’m fully in support of advertising catapult turtles. In fact, we need Catapult Turtles Awareness Week.

      I think I probably would have paid a small amount for my “I have Happy Hips!” shirt, but I got it for free, which is much better. The random comments I get when I wear that shirt are hilarious.

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