After doing some light reading the other day on anxiety disorders (and by light, I don’t mean reading “100 Anxiety Disorder Jokes for People with OCD: we would have made it 101 but we didn’t want to fuck with you”, I mean that I only read the first three pages) I discovered that over 15 million people in America suffer from anxiety each year (it would be interesting to know a more localised statistic, but given we are a mere backwater cousin country, and the ‘brain drain’ has already meant anyone capable of producing such research has already relocated to the seat of the empire, these foreign statistics will have to do)
The causes for these phenomenally high rates are, apparently, plain old genetics, and growing up in families like this. But of course, living in a world that is batshit crazy, is also thought to have something to do with it.
For my own part, while I don’t discount the powerful influence of a certifiable family of origin and misfiring genetic codes that produce involuntary twitches, I find myself deeply interested in how modern day madness attributes to our rather poor state of internal affairs.
I was hoping to share some stand out examples of these crazy circumstances here, things like how many times we have been forced to listen to the worlds worst advertising jingle while sitting in traffic for 540 hours a year and driving to work where we spend 80,000 hours of our life contributing to a system inherently hell bent on destroying our natural environment all the while producing enough waste that there is now a rubbish tip the size of the Northern Territory milling about in the Pacific Ocean.
But it all made me, well, rather fucking anxious, and only really served in giving great credence to the not altogether accurate, but seemingly fitting analogy of great hordes of lemmings charging off a cliff, mindlessly plummeting to their doom.
And because I kicked off my half baked investigations by looking at the number of marketing messages we are exposed to – about 3,000 a day – I just couldn’t seem to get past the, not entirely related but still fucked up and fascinating, world of corporate advertising.
There is no telling what relationship, if any, this has to anxiety levels, because, to date, the psychological impacts of corporate advertising remain largely unexplored. But there is no denying the steady rate of ‘ad creep’ into more and more aspects of our lives. And if sitting on a bus, your view out the window slightly obstructed by the ad that has been painted over it, taking an automated call from your mobile provider *informing* you of nifty new services on offer, then biting into an apple only to find you have a taken a mouthful of a carefully placed stick on slogan isn’t enough to alarm you of the ever encroaching ad army, then check out some of these more *inventive* ways of grabbing our attention.
* In 1993 Space Marketing Inc proposed launching a ‘Space Billboard’ into low orbit to be visible on earth. The 1km squared illuminated billboard was designed to look like a full moon with the idea that every dawn and dusk huge “Pepsi” or “Toyota” messages could beam down on us, and instead of old folk lore about the boy in the moon, a new day would come where we lull our children to sleep with the ‘oh what a feeling’ Toyota jingle. Sadly, the impact from unwieldy pieces of space debris flying into the ‘moon board’ stopped the project from progressing.
* Since the 1990s there has been a growing trend of ‘brand naming babies’, and labels like Nautica, Lexus and Armani have joined the ranks of America’s top 1,000 names. There are also, apparently, at least four American boys sporting the name ESPN.
Now, I know what you are thinking, your thinking ESPN is a perfectly versatile name, and one you wish you could have thought of yourself, one day you could be calling out to your beloved Example of a Sporting Parent’s Neanderthal, and the next, you can just ‘change it up’ and go with Ever Spill Pepsi again and you’re Nailed!
* Last year, a company was equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about the gender, approximate age, and time spent looking at the billboard by passersby. The details were then transmitted to a central database with the goal of tailoring a digital display to the person standing in front of it, i.e, to show one advertisement to a middle-aged white woman, for example, and a different one to a teenage Asian boy. Unclear however, is how the company will respond to an aging cross dressing transgender person holding hands with young Asian toy boy clutching a Bichon Frise lap dog and staring at the billboard in a bleary barbiturate daze, for days.
* Every year, companies send commercial messages into the classroom of youngsters unfortunate enough to attend schools that are partially privatised in order to ‘make ends meet’, mostly commonly in the form of sponsored educational materials.
But before you jump to any rash conclusions here, this is not just any willy-nilly branding, for the corporations are expertly matched to the subject, and could you get any better a match than McDonalds and Nabisco Mars candy sponsoring education material on nutrition? I think not. And McDonald’s don’t limit themselves to nutrition either, they also ‘teach’ about deforestation, namely how best to clear fell large chunks of the Amazon to rear beef that is nutritionally as good for you as Mars bar sandwich….
* In 2008, Jason Niebling opened up on of the few remaining untapped advertising spaces in the world, his face.
Although tattoo advertising has been around since 2003 when American Jim Nelson sold the space on the back of his head to a web hosting service for $US7000, Niebling would be the first to bring the practice to Australia when he offered up the right half of his face for sale to the highest bidder (his left side was already taken with the ‘commercial free’ content of skulls and things).
Like many of us, his goal was to avoid, “getting up every morning and having to work for the man”, via the less common means of “working for whoever’s on my head”.
For whoever had enough money, Niebling promised that the entire right side of his face would be the “ultimate advertising space”. And by ‘ultimate’, he meant providing the company with direct expose to the local population of a little known Australian town, filled with people like this woman. A hard opportunity to pass up really, especially considering the ‘moon board’ is out.
PS – on the quest for this unintended advertising rant, this was the favourite ad I found: