I think about advertisements a lot. My superpower and my curse as a marketer is that I analyse every product and ad I see. Before I learned to control it supermarket shopping could be overwhelming at times. I have one memory walking down the aisle not just surrounded by a dazzling array of products in packaging, but also floor advertisements. The very ground I walked on was exploited and vying for attention.
To this day I encourage my consulting clients, and when I am teaching English, my students, to think about the demographic profile of the target market for products and ads they see. Am I the target market? My gender, my generation, my income bracket? Or maybe my parents’?
But what about the placement of advertising? Countless aspects of marketing are open to ethical debate, and ad placement has been a big part of not just discussion and exploration in fiction, but also grassroots activism and legislation. Some cities have gone completely ad free. In fact, advertising of practically any sort has been banned in Cuba for decades.
Distribution makes up another part of the hallowed 4 Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Only a person who has been to Japan truly realises no place is too sacred for vending machines. Well, I say that, but I still managed to be shocked on a recent trip to a tiny rural town in Germany where I saw no less than two cigarette vending machines beside the footpath. All it takes is an enterprising householder who wants to make a little money to add to the convenience of our consumerist society. Furthermore, the availability for instant meals and snacks around our cities is a contributor to obesity levels in the west.
Different governments have taken a different stance on where and when various products can be sold or advertised. Like most things, change can creep. Personally, I experience shock and distraction whenever I am forced to use a web browser without an ad-blocker or watch commercial TV. I grew up in place where in my youth Sunday trading was illegal, but now when I visit places who still ban it I am shocked. Sometimes, in rare, special instances it takes some other kind of knowledge or experience to make one see what’s really there. And sometimes it’s a curse.
David Frank is a marketer, writer and public speaker. Hailing originally from Perth, Western Australia, he’s currently studying a MSc Marketing at Edinburgh Napier University. He has run philosophy cafe events in Australia and Scotland, and tours live shows exposing the tricks marketers use on us. You can read more about him at davidfrank.com.au.
Read David’s first post for In Search Of Basho here.