Hey loyal reader(s),
Whilst in Chile I’ve been privelidged to witness something that very few people get to see in their lifetime.
Well, when I say nothing, I mean space. A freedom to think. A freedom to make a decision about something, decide whether it’s for you before being bombarded by 500 more advertising messages that are in no way more targetted than the spam email you receive from Mr Nwankwo from Nigeria who heard that you’d be able to help out with a pesky $500 million he needs to hide from the new regime…
And I don’t just mean the time that I’ve spent on the shore of Lago Budi in Chile’s Lake District with the indigenous Mapuche people. I’m talking about Santiago, Chile’s vibrant and incredibly modern capital city. A rich, thriving place full of consumers looking for new products and gadgets to spend their money on. And yet, unlike Mexico City, that giant of North America with over 22 million people, there is not billboard after billboard plastered to the skyline (and every spare space imaginable). You do not see advertising plastered in every square inch (centimetre if you’re that way inclined) trying to grab you attention.
And it’s refreshing. It’s relaxing. It let’s you breath for two seconds without having to consider the benefits of Sedal’s new curl relaxing shampoo, without wondering about the unsticking ability of Mr Muscle’s oven cleaner or being forced to imagine Coke’s great new flavour.
It’s not even like I’m anti-advertising. I like advertising; I’d go as far as to say I love it. I’ve been in advertising all my working life and it excites me to see new ways of reaching an audience, new creative that pushes the boundaries. But if I have to see another advert for something that absolutely in now way has anything whatsoever to do with me or with anyone like me I’ll scream and scream and scream.
Forcing people to see untargetted advertising these days is like force-feeding fillet mignon to die hard vegetarians. It doesn’t matter how amazing the product is; at most you’ll end up converting a percentage of a percentage to your cause, if that. There are so many options available – Google adwords, contextual advertising – why do brands persist on spending millions on TV, magazines and billboards? Here’s to the UK where in 2008 online advertising (and to an extent targeted advertising) is finally surpassing TV for the first time ever.