The Invasion of the Consumer Snatchers

Writing in Ad Age, Commercial Alert Executive Director Gary Ruskin says, "...the advertising industry seems caught up in a death spiral of disrespect. In its desperate clamor to claim the attention of potential shoppers, the industry invents a new intrusive ad mechanism almost every week, until citizens are driven nuts by all the billboards, product placement, junk faxes, pop-unders and all the rest of it."

While Commercial Alert isn't exactly a proponent of any kind of advertising, he does have a valid point. It's bear impossible to escape advertising and media planners are continually being presented with or developing on their own new and more intrusive means of reaching consumers. Ruskin claims this will backfire in the face of the advertising industry and cause more harm than good. He cites San Francisco Board of Supervisors restoring its baseball park name to Candlestick park and Channel One being booted out of schools as signs of the rebellion.

He goes on to lambaste the industry claiming, "The industry's implicit message is a total lack of respect for our time, our privacy, our attention, our peace of mind, and not least for our concerns about our kids. 'Your attention is ours,' the industry says, in effect. 'We are entitled to it at every moment.'" He leaves no stone unturned claiming marketer's disdain for our health as represented by what he calls "marketing-related diseases" such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and smoking related illnesses; marketer's corruption of civic institutions by forcing their way into schools and onto police cars.

Calling this an escalation towards "mutual disrespect," Ruskin says this will be played out in the courts in the years to come as the boundaries of privacy are finely tuned and law upon law are passed governing the relationship between marketers and consumers.

Freedom of speech only goes so far. A car dealer has already fired a gun at a competing dealer's blimp. How long will it be before a holographic ad lands on one's front lawn causing an angry homeowner to unleash his private household nuclear powerplant on said holograph's ass?

by Steve Hall    Apr-26-04   Click to Comment   

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