By Tom Ehrich
I was walking through JFK, finding my gate, when a television ad came on telling “patriots” to be worried about Barack Obama getting reelected.
Strange use of the loaded term “patriots.” Especially tiresome to have an advertisement intruding on my travels.
As our flight neared Charlotte, a flight attendant — “We’re here for your safety and comfort” — came on the speaker and gave a lengthy advertisement for a US Airways credit card. More intrusion.
On my next flight, more ads for US Airways — as if charging extra fees for everything hadn’t been rude enough.
Ads on Facebook, ads on LinkedIn, ads on the dropdown tray table, ads everywhere. Internet advertising is coming close to passing television ads in dollars.
It seems that, by having a pulse, I have agreed to be the target of advertising on any surface, sound or motion that I encounter.
My response, of course, is to see and hear nothing. I record all TV shows and fast-forward through the ads. I don’t even see the right-hand column — the ad column— on web sites. I mute web radio when ads come on. I skip past paid placement on search results.
It is a strange culture that sends me messages I resist for products I don’t need and thereby accomplishes two unintended consequences: turning me against their product for bring a source of irritation and undoing decades of cultural training to be an impulsive consumer. I participate in this culture by advertising my own products. I wish there were another way to make people aware of what I am bringing to the marketplace.
It dawned on me recently — maybe while skipping past pages of ads for high-end wristwatches in the New York Times — that little of what I see or hear advertised is worth anything to me.
I feel a consumer spell lifting. I feel liberated.