Advertising abhors a vacuum, which is why people abhor advertising

March 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

In response to budget cuts caused by the economic downturn, an Idaho teacher called Jeb Harrison has sold ad space on his tests to a local pizza shop. In return he gets $315 worth of paper–enough to last his class through next year. He teaches economics, so perhaps there’s a lesson here for the class. Or perhaps there’s an opportunity to monitor the weight of the students over the coming year and learn a bit about mathematics. 

In any case,  I bring this up because last night on a flight from New York, I lowered my tray table and was smacked in the face by an cellular network ad. I understand that ads pay the bills, including the mortgages of most of the people who are reading this, but is the goal really to fill every white space on the planet with advertising (even in a world where agencies are desperately scrambling for revenue)? Does this really endear brands to consumers? I suggest the answer is no. It’s one thing to surprise consumers in a delightful way that makes them feel good about a piece of marketing. It’s quite another for a brand to shoulder its way in front of them in a place it doesn’t really belong. The ad on the tray table is a reversion to the model of advertising as uninvited guest. Uninvited guests are rude. The world is unpleasant enough without inventing more of them.

I leave you with Johnson’s Law: The magnetic appeal of a community is inversely proportion to the number of signs it displays. This is equally true in the “real world” and the online space.

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Entry filed under: Advertising and Marketing.

In the online world, the money isn’t always where you think it’s going to be. Want to visualize your Facebook network? Admit it, you’ve got nothing better to do.

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