I Hate Advertising.

I used to cite this as the reason I started working in advertising over eight years ago. The day after Super Bowl XLII, however, I feel as though I am now capable of a much deeper, consuming, educated and validated hate.

Now, most of my readers know that I'm not a sports fan. The Super Bowl has never appealed to me. I simply don't care who wins what game, and never have. I've got more productive things to do. Suck it, sports.

Equally unappealing to me is the predictable practice of mindless pandering in advertising aired during sporting events. Mindless, meaningless messaging that borders on offensive. Some that goes past offensive to just plain obscene - and not in the pornographic way that can turn a guy on. I'm talking about the kind of obscene that turns your stomach because it reveals the hideous truth: brands and their advertisers believe us all to be complete imbeciles. Yes, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's essentially true.

Consumerist called last night's orgy of advertising "a tame batch of disappointment". Personally, I think it's disappointing that we still look to television spots aired during one football game as the shining moment in every year of advertising. We dutifully tune-in to watch the same formula at work year after year, spot after spot: derivative creative product aimed at appealing to the lowest common denominator.

I realize I may be echoing what Bob Garfield has to say about my chosen profession, and about the questionable merit of its contributions to society. Now, the day after the Super Bowl when I've had the chance to see the popular commercials online, I have to agree with Bob whole-heartedly. Check the reports aggregated via BuzzFeed to confirm that the over-inflated spectacle of Super Bowl advertising was, in fact, quite underwhelming.

There's an old saying in advertising: "I know half of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don't know which half." It's probably the half you spent on that inane Super Bowl spot, Mr. Advertiser.

Removed from the over-amplified, over-hyped context of the big game broadcast, the spots I watched online failed to surprise or delight. They sure as hell aren't selling me anything, either. In fact, they're informing me which marketers are deserving of my complete desertion. If I see an ad for a product I use, and that ad paints said product's users as the too-often heralded lowest common denominator, I'm going to stop buying/using/letting people see me with that product. That's not because I work in advertising; that's because I refuse to reward insults with patronage.

But I'm a minority. That's why I shouldn't watch the Super Bowl. It only reminds me why I hate advertising.


DeLancey said...

Today people where I work were talking as much about the commercials as the game. As often happens, I just put my headphones on and listened to music because I can't relate to what half the people I work with are talking about. It seems so ridiculous to me that commercials are considered an event. I saw lots of "news" items across the web today talking about super bowl commercials commercials. I didn't click on them. I don't care. I still hate commercials. They're the reason remote controls have mute buttons.

PYLB said...

Right. For all the intention to spurn impulse buys in some consumers, a lot of the ads do just as much to spurn impulse boycotts in other consumers. Through television, marketers talk to us all as though we're of equally low intelligence. The result: you and I are barked at like we're unrefined, over-sexed, and under-educated alcoholics. That's not a gratifying experience. It makes us despise any and all parties who bombard us with the same old crap. And it makes me think I really need to find a new line of work.

Kristy said...

I have to agree. To the general public the Super Bowl is the Academy Awards of commercials, which sucks. It's unfortunate that the work you may be proud to say you are a part of is the work that rarely gets seen outside of the advertising community trades or award shows.

E said...

Obligatory Bill Hicks Link.

Also, vaguely on topic, check out the awesome lightbulb joke on DeRo's blog.

The Old Dog said...

Super Bowl commercials have never been good, only novel the first year before they were hyped as "good". Any creativity was sucked out by the same train-jumping idiocy that guides all marketing. The only truly good marketing seems to be accidental or cleverly foolhardy. What follows is a fake.

The Naked Cowboy is suing M&M Mars for using his image, re-worked as a singing M&M. How lame is that? Yes, the Naked Cowboy should move on; but to ape him? That is LAME!

PYLB said...

Not all marketing is guided by the same idiocy we see in television advertising. Gmail is free because it carries contextual text ads (marketing), which at a scant 30 characters are easy to ignore. The label on your bottle of beer confirms it's the one you ordered. You know about new movies because of the trailers, which are a form of marketing. These are all more useful than television spots, but still forms of marketing.

Naked Cowboy, well, that's another set of problems I don't care to get into here. If marketing helps him realize that he's jumped the shark, so be it.