Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Truth in Advertising

"BELIEVE". "The greatest city in America". "Get in on it". They couldn't pick just one slogan, so they got the valu-pak. City council's tipsy with blind optimism, but that's not reflected in the business climate. People are much more pragmatic when it's their own money on the line.

Advertising is a great example. Billboards are a reflection of the perceived worth, interests and purchasing power of their viewers. In
order to characterize the perceived
worth of the Baltiless consumer (black market excluded), I paid attention to the billboards I see on my 14 mile round-trip commute through the heart of Baldamer city on a given day.

Instead of replacing the damaged ad for food stamps, they just put a new one up next to it. This is what the pros call "market saturation".

They fell into four general categories. n=26.

PSAs: 38%
Posting a PSA means the ad agency has just given up. Trying to rent the space out isn't even worth their while. Baltiless advertising companies have found advertising in Baltiless isn't worth their while 38% of the time. Instead, the area's blanketed with messages about everything from abstinence to donate-a-boat-to-charity campaigns. And thus, the people are educated, minds are opened, citizens are empowered and lives are changed. Right?

Gambling and alcohol: 11.5%
On the date surveyed, coverage of these hobbies was unusually light. Odd, when you consider it's one of the few products that might actually interest the residents.

Funeral homes: 15%
In any other city, this would be bizarre. I'd never seen a funeral home billboard before moving here. Nevertheless, they've been springing up lately and on 14 miles of road, there are four (4!) of them. What with the recent down-tick in murders, they must really be struggling to stay afloat

Commercial: 34%
Actual commercial websites, for actual goods and services (unrelated to death or intoxication). Only 34%. Even of these, two of them are leftover from events that happened months ago. Evidently, there's not much demand for that real estate.

She looks on, mildly surprised, as half her head is torn off.

Content is only one symptom. It's the signs themselves that clinch the nomination for Greatest Outdoor Advertising in America. Perhaps they make the paper out of hilariously substandard material. Maybe it's due to the toxic haze permeating the city. Maybe it's a combination of the two. Either way, that shit don't stay up.

Soon after being posted, sometimes even within the week, the paper begins to crease and tear,
finally peeling off in strips. As it sloughs off, it reveals and adds to the ghostly decoupage left behind by all the other billboards that peeled off before their time. It's like removing old wallpaper, except wallpaper is more durable.

My goodness, what an eyesore! Surely the company who posted the billboard cares? Or maybe the company featured on the billboard? Perhaps the owner of the billboard space? Local merchants and residents? Civic boosters? The answer is No. No one cares. The end.

The message: the only way to get a low rate on car insurance in Baltiless is to not have a car.


Born at Bon Secours said...

Excellent analysis of B'more city billboards. I drive I-83 from Towson to downtown 3 days a week and always get a chuckle out of the PSAs. And I always check the Lotto billboard to see how high the Megamillions Jackpot gets. More recently I've been thinking of picking up a Megamillions ticket, but trying to decide if it's just because of the not-so-subliminal message of the high placement of the billboard relative to the crappy ground level site. I will have to exit sometime and check it out.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog.

That is all.

ppatin said...

You forgot about the "Who's The Daddy" billboards, or the ones for Project Exile.