Advertising to a Post Consumerist

Deter­min­ing what I real­ly want is hard.  Adver­tis­ing tries every day and fails mis­er­ably.  It’s even hard for me and thus down­right impos­si­ble for my close fam­i­ly and friends.  Occa­sion­al­ly, my fam­i­ly mem­bers will make an unusu­al­ly inspired choice.  Some­times this amounts to an item that I didn’t know I want­ed but actu­al­ly real­ly need.  Oth­er times this amounts to some­thing for which I’ve been pin­ing for some time (either overt­ly or uncon­scious­ly).  Maybe they got it just to shut me up…

Watson on Jeopardy

Wat­son on Jeop­ardy

A fair ques­tion would be: Do my fam­i­ly and close friends “get” me more than Google and oth­er deep-think­ing data­bas­es of the Inter­webs?  This empir­i­cal evi­dence would sug­gest that they do.  A win for per­son­al rela­tion­ships over deep data, I sup­pose.

In a sim­i­lar vein, I get real­ly annoyed with most adver­tis­ing.  I would go so far to say that most adver­tis­ing makes me feel empa­thy embar­rass­ment for the cre­ator or object of the adver­tise­ment.  Regard­less of how I feel, though, adver­tis­ing takes up time and resources for lit­tle prac­ti­cal use, in my case.

How do I find myself in this sit­u­a­tion?  I don’t want what “peo­ple” appar­ent­ly want.  I say, “appar­ent­ly” because I def­i­nite­ly don’t under­stand what peo­ple want and the evi­dence, giv­en by adver­tise­ments direct­ed at me, is that I’m expect­ed to want some­thing else.  There may have been a time when I shared some wants with the mass­es, but they have def­i­nite­ly left me some time ago.

Personal Luxury Submarine

Per­son­al Lux­u­ry Sub­ma­rine

My wants tend you come from two schemas: the prac­ti­cal and the mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal.  In prac­ti­cal things, I eas­i­ly show my diver­gence from the norm.  I don’t want a “new” car.  I research the crap out of most pur­chas­es.  Most of my pur­chas­es prob­a­bly rep­re­sent a long tail process where I fer­ret out a fair­ly unique prod­uct from a rel­a­tive­ly unique ven­dor.  In many cas­es, right­ly or wrong­ly, I con­clude that doing it myself is the answer.

For the mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal, see Per­son­al Lux­u­ry Sub­ma­rine.

So, About Advertising

So what’s this about adver­tis­ing in the title?  Sim­i­lar to my family’s dilem­ma each Christ­mas, it’s real­ly hard to effec­tive­ly adver­tise to me.  I’m just not talk­ing about the ad block­ers and “no script” that I run in my browsers… And I’m not just talk­ing about my thumb hov­er­ing over the “skip” but­ton or scrolling past the loud ani­ma­tions.  I’m not even direct­ly talk­ing about how googling any saleable prod­uct  is near­ly use­less if you are look­ing for real infor­ma­tion.

Wix YouTube Advertising

Wix YouTube Adver­tis­ing

I’m not even talk­ing about the com­plete mis­fires like YouTube try­ing to push ‘WIX’ (web site cre­ation web­site) on me.  That’s just com­plete­ly ridicu­lous, although it may have played some part in my deci­sion to write this piece.  I have been telling peo­ple they need web­sites since 1995 — so long that it’s no longer, iron­i­cal­ly, true any­more.

I’m talk­ing about the fact that most of the things I want are either not adver­tised and/or that they will require research to locate.  In either case, a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of my bud­get is spent on items that are not or can not be adver­tised.

A Non-Advertising Example

I’m excit­ed to be get­ting into 3D print­ing, but this is also a great exam­ple of my the­sis. If you search for 3D print­ers or read about 3D print­ers for awhile and then look at the ads that will be thrown at you, your first take will be that 3D print­ers cost about $1500 and that there are many more expen­sive and fan­cy ones.

Since the ini­tial hype sur­round­ing 3D print­ing has large­ly passed, there exist arti­cles and videos that will help you find out that 3D print­ing can be had on a small­er bud­get.  You may even find some adver­tise­ments regard­ing 3D print­ers in the $300 to $600 range and you may even find adver­tise­ments for supreme­ly cheap 3D print­ers now.  That is not to say that cheap is good: but rather to intro­duce that the adver­tise­ments are of lit­tle inter­est to me.  At best they can rec­om­mend fur­ther research.

Prusa Mendel 3D Printer

Prusa Mendel 3D Print­er
No Adver­tis­ing

Giv­en my stat­ed inter­est in 3D print­ers, you might assume that I would then be hap­py with adver­tise­ments of 3D print­ers in my price range.  In this case, you would be wrong.  More intense research led me to reprap.org.  The idea that 3D print­ing was about mak­ing things: real things; things like 3D print­ers.  Why can’t 3D print­ers print them­selves?

Large­ly, they can (and do).  Know­ing this can save you mon­ey.  Know­ing this can lead you to under­stand­ing your 3D print­er at a deep­er lev­el.  In the end, I sourced most of my parts from a local indus­tri­al fas­ten­er store for $60.  I sourced a num­ber of oth­er items on eBay and the remain­ing from anoth­er some­what-local 3D print­ing enthu­si­ast.  Adver­tis­ing didn’t lead me to any  of these con­clu­sions.

Indeed the 3D print­er I have cho­sen has no adver­tis­ing.  I could be due to the fact that the plans for the print­er are avail­able on github.  I could be do to the fact that besides a few 3D print­ed parts, all the parts required are avail­able from sources that have lit­tle or noth­ing to do with 3D print­ing — and for a frac­tion of the price of retail.

Advertising, I Fart in Your General Direction

There exists much crap in the world. We buy crap because it’s made to look nice and it’s con­tin­u­al­ly pushed in our faces.  Like cor­po­rate polit­i­cal dona­tions, adver­tis­ing is large­ly a neg­a­tive influ­ence on the world.  Both exist due to the psy­cho­path­ic dis­po­si­tion of the mod­ern cor­po­ra­tion.  Both will con­tin­ue to exist until we beat them into sub­mis­sion.

The vast major­i­ty of peo­ple are not well served by adver­tis­ing: they just don’t know or real­ize it.  Adver­tis­ing, is, of course, in the inter­ests of the adver­tis­er.  We even have laws that appear to force the adver­tis­er to “tell the truth.”  Some­how in this mad­ness we call cap­i­tal­ism, though, con­sumers have lost their pow­ers.  So few of us now research our pur­chas­es prop­er­ly or we assume that the adver­tis­ing is large­ly true.  So few of us actu­al­ly act in our own inter­ests.

The EU, as a counter exam­ple, has recent­ly pro­posed that durable goods be man­u­fac­tured such that they are repairable and last much longer. This new item, along with many oth­ers I’ve heard in the last few months regard­ing the EU give me hope that some peo­ple are reject­ing some adver­tis­ing.  In gen­er­al, the peo­ples of the EU are exposed to few­er hours of adver­tis­ing than those of us liv­ing in North Amer­i­ca.  This is healthy for peo­ple and, in turn, it will be healthy for the plan­et.

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