Is America Advertising Too Much? Or Are People Just Not Paying Attention?
By Suzanne MacNevin
Every weeknight when I turn on the TV to watch CSI I mute the ads. I just don't have the patience to watch SUV ads, Vonage ads, Pepsi and whatever other stuff they're trying to sell me. I mute them all.
When I check my email (I have a Gmail account), I usually have 1 or 2 new spam in my inbox, and about 120 new spams in my spambox. At the end of the month, my spambox auto-deletes all spam over a month old. I currently have over 4000 spams in there. I check any new spams as spam and then go about my business of answering emails/hatemail.
Then I read an interesting statistic yesterday: Advertising profits have slumped during the last three years in the United States. That doesn't mean that advertising companies are going bankrupt (although some of them might eventually), what it means is that companies that are advertising don't seem to be making as many sales.
For example, if the Widget Company spends $100 million on a new advertising campaign and usually makes about $500 million in profits, whats happened is that instead of making $500 M, they are only making $400 M instead.
Or even less.
Obviously people aren't selling Widgets, but the principle is the same. Companies seem to be going into an "advertising backslide", almost as if we were in a depression.
Except we're not in a depression. True, the US economy did SHRINK 0.5% during 2005, but thats not a depression. Its a minor bump on the economic radar.
These days you see advertising EVERYWHERE, including this website. We use Google Adsense in order to make sure the Lilith Gallery Network makes a profit and can afford to pay for its server/etc. Admittedly we also fall into this trap of using advertising in order to pay the bills, and we can admit to it without being hypocritical.
But what about the rest of the world? Advertising really is seemingly everywhere. Dentist offices often get free magazine subscriptions because the advertising in the magazine is a good way of selling products to consumers that might not see it otherwise. It also advertises the magazine itself simply by "being there".
Transit buses and subways have advertising on the walls, the roofs, even the floors sometimes. When my friend Alex lived in South Korea the Seoul Subway had mini-tv sets inside the subway cars and also on the subway platforms that showed people constant advertisements.
When I fetch my snail mail outside, there is usually at least 2 pieces (sometimes a lot more!) of junk mail with it, including the ever popular "You May Be A Millionaire!". The junk mail gets "filed" into the recycling bin without even being opened.
And my biggest pet peeve of all? Telemarketers calling my cellphone. That REALLY pisses me off!!!
I really am not surprised that the "standard advertising procedure" doesn't work as well anymore. Between muting the ads on tv, garbaging the spam and the junk mail and shouting the ears off telemarketers to "Leave me the hell alone!" its no wonder that advertising like that doesn't work anymore.
Google Adsense is working, but hey, Google is an exception. They have managed to make advertising "on the side" and less intrusive than regular IN YOUR FACE banners that are just plain annoying. What Google has done is essentially "smart advertising".
And thats what other advertising companies need to start doing, being smarter about the way they advertise.
Have you ever heard how the most annoying television ads sometimes have the best profits? Well, that trend isn't working anymore. It used to, because people would remember the ad and be reminded of it, but these days the ads have become so annoying that many people do what I do: They mute it.
And muting isn't the only issue at stake these days.
Thanks to cable and mini-dish networks, people now usually have 500 channels to choose from. Some of those channels are "ad-free", meaning there is no ads between the shows.
There is also "tv-on-demand", which allows people to fast-forward or just plain skip the ads.
And last but not least, internet downloading of TV shows. People now have the option of paying a subscription fee to download tv shows, or they can download illegal copies from the myriad of Napster-like programs available.
Suffice to say, people now have the OPTION of watching television without any ads at all.
And frankly, why would you WANT to watch the same ads again and again?
During an one hour period of watching television you will see 18 minutes of advertising and only 42 minutes of the actual TV show. So if you watch 4 hours of television every night (which is what the average American watches per day), then in reality you are wasting one hour and 12 minutes watching advertising (unless you got up during the ads to make a snack or go to the bathroom, etc).
Over the course of a year, that adds up to 473 hours. You could have been outside exercising instead for that 473 hours and now have a body of divine sexual perfection.
Or you could have watched an extra 473 hours of other tv shows and been the fat lazy bum you always are.
What is really scary is that some people don't watch TV at all, which means there are those Americans who watch TV for 8 hours or more every day. Combine that with junk food and internet addiction, and its no wonder why Americans are so obese.
Getting rid of advertising (a total waste of time & money), watching less television and eating properly/exercising more would change that trend.
But it wouldn't be profitable for the pharmaceutical industry, which makes billions of dollars off of healthcare payments every year. Or the fastfood/junkfood industry, which also makes billions of dollars per year off fat Americans.
Its not Christmas that drives that drives the American economy. You're thinking of the wrong fat guy.
Its the average Fat American that drives the American economy and American consumerism.
People say "Sex Sells", but they're wrong. Sex only sells because fat people want to be sexy and thin. 73% of adult Americans are overweight and fat. That means 73% of Americans want to be thin/athletic and sexy. The other 27% likely already are.
To some extent, American consumerism/advertising is to blame for America's obesity. The ads show thin attractive people eating McDonalds fattening cheeseburgers and sucking down Pepsi (which is 24% sugar) and don't show the reality of America: Fat people chewing on burgers and sucking down sugar-filled Pepsi.
Or sucking down sugarless Diet Pepsi, which contains cancer-causing sweeteners. Diet soda drinks should have a warning sign on them saying "Warning: This Product Causes Over 20 Different Kinds of Cancer!" Sweeteners also cause eye problems that can lead to blindness and penile problems such as erectile disfunction.
So if your hubby can't get it up, maybe he's drinking too much diet soda.
Admittedly, I myself could be watching less CSI and cutting back on the chocolate (I tend to eat chocolate when I watch TV). I suppose when I've seen all the episodes, I will cut back... or start watching a different show (which shows how pathetic I can be sometimes). Or maybe I will exercise more.
I'm not overweight, but I do have a history of gaining weight. I finally solved it by creating my own diet plan: The MacNevin Diet. And I stick by it because it actually works.
Given time, the United States could reverse its trend of growing obesity rates. But US companies would have to stop advertising fattening food so much and concentrate on advertising more healthier ways of eating.
Issues about obesity rates and advertising have created a mini-market that I call "anti-ad-ism". "Anti-Ad-ism" seems to be becoming popular too, largely due to magazines like Adbusters, which unlike normal magazines doesn't have paid advertising in it. Quite the opposite, Adbusters is a magazine dedicated towards making fun of advertising. It costs slightly more than a regular magazine, because it doesn't have advertising revenues, but hey, thats a good thing. It means you spend less time looking at ads and more time making fun of the stupidity of them.
As a special note, I wish the government would make the following things illegal: Junk mail, spam and telemarketing. They are really just a waste of time and money, but thats not why they should be illegal: Because of invasion of privacy and because of wastefulness.
In 2005 there was an average of 141 BILLION EMAILS per DAY. 98% of which is spam. Thats up from year 2000 average of only 5.1 billion/day (which is back when spam only accounted for 80% of all emails). At the current rate of increase, the 2006 average is destined to become 99%.
And yet governments and industries do almost nothing to prohibit the use of spam. I've added filters to my Gmail account, so that I never receive any emails containing the words "investment stocks, viagra, grow a bigger penis" and numerous others.
And what is becoming more problematic is the Russian, Japanese and Chinese spam I am now receiving too.
Once more its up to companies like Google to step up to plate. If it wasn't for Gmail, I'd be spending 10 to 20 minutes every day just deleting spam. Instead I only spend 5 seconds.
Which is roughly the same amount of time it takes me to tell a telemarketer to "Fuck off and leave me alone!"