Saturday, August 2, 2008

E-mails and stealth advertising

As the presidential campaigns have progressed into attack mode with considerable alacrity, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to deal with other people's opinions about who will serve our country best in the highest office in the land. In theory there should come a time when no matter what rhetoric emanates from the two contenders, we will have made up our minds as to whom we intend to give our vote. I strongly suspect that readers of this blog are much like me. I believe we all pretty much put our pants on one leg at a time. With the exception of those ladies or men who prefer skirts or who may be monepedes or disabled in some fashion, I truly beg your pardon, but I hope you get my drift. I think we all have the capacity to determine for ourselves which of the two candidates will best suit us. So, why am I receiving daily e-mails forwarded to me by friends and family about McCain and Obama? With regards to the election, am I expected to believe that each one thinks I am at the tipping point? Don't we get bombarded with political messages from the candidates on television already? Aside from the e-mails, there is another disturbing trend in political advertising. It is an attempt by the major agencies to mimic the success of viral marketing on the Internet. Advertising campaigns featuring ballgirls making spectacular catches at minor league baseball games or corn popping from supposed radiation emanating from cellphones have been proven to be nothing more than the products of creative minds from major advertising agencies uploaded to video sites like YouTube. The attempt has been to be more than subtle, indeed the agencies call it stealth advertising. The cameras are deliberately hand held and shaky and the dialogue is made to appear to be unscripted to delude one into believing that it is an amateur video. After it is revealed that the "trick" ballgirl catch was really a commercial for a sports drink or that the corn popping was just promoting a Bluetooth headset device, we're all supposed to smile and say "Yeah, that was really cool! You guys rock, so now I'll buy your stuff." I getting this right? The Internet that was supposed to be the Information Superhighway is now being used by for profit institutions to deliberately give out misinformation in order to promote their products? Now the major TV networks are beginning to show these viral attacks ads placed on the Internet by the presidential campaigns. If the advertising agencies' strategy was to put something inexpensive on the Internet so that the major media would broadcast it or talk about it on radio, they have once again made their point. We'll buy anything if it's packaged correctly. That means we'll all have to deal with more of these fake ads and more e-mails in the coming months and that's really too bad. I have reached my tipping point as far as these are concerned.

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