Advertising gone wild

Ashley Major

Contributing Writer

An idiomatic fixture in our everyday lives, advertising is quickly becoming a constant presence wherever we go.

There are giant billboards on the highway, Super Bowl halftime, persistent commercials on TV and radio, and … state parks? Yes, it is true, times are tough, and advertising on property that was once considered public is now fair game.

Times are indeed changing; corporate sponsors are now branding public fixtures and famous quintessential landmarks across our nation for their economic survival. AT&T is sponsoring train stations in Pennsylvania in exchange for name entitlement and product placement. Likewise Los Angeles’s Ron Burkle-Ralphs Auditorium is now The Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the historic New York Public Library is now named the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building courtesy of a hefty $100-million donation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

Even in nature, while wandering through the plush park trails of northern Virginia and Maryland, one is guided by branded North Face trail markers.

It appears contemporary advertising knows no boundaries when it comes to what they will brand. It began with state parks, then children’s playgrounds, and now public schools as they scramble to find a means of sustainment. Snarl as we may, the reality is unfortunate but simple; as budget cuts continue to be made, aspects of capitalism must continue to prevail.

In the case of our generation, however, corporate is the new House of Representatives. While this may not come as a complete surprise, as most of our lives have become a blur of product placement and logo overload. It appears there is no end in sight as corporate becomes mundane in a world where Tostitos may one day be printed atop of your VCU official transcript.

In 2005, Karolyne Smith received $10,000 from the Golden Palace Online Casino for tattooing “” on her forehead. A literal walking advertisement, she pleads no regret as her state of economic desperation left her with “little choice.”

Absurd as it appears, the notion of tattooing a popular logo is becoming desensitized. Local Richmond hipster hotspot Sticky Rice offers dollar beers to anyone choosing to brand themselves with their logo.

To further complete this tale of advertisement gone wild, Canadian mega-corporation Shoppers Drug Mart insisted on finding a way to project their logo into the Calgary sky so it could be seen in contrast to one of natures most beautiful gifts – the Northern Lights.

While all this may sound rather presumptuous, a quick car ride down Broad Street will clarify our state of advertisement claustrophobia as it resembles a 1980’s cartoon reel flashing a recurring background: billboards for McDonalds, Panera/Chipotle, Target and repeat. Has this surplus of branding become enough for us yet?

While we continue to fuel the fire by buying into this corporate culture and accepting their overstepping of boundaries, it’s hard to picture what life will be like in 10 years. Driving down Interstate-Verizon, you will take a left at the Doritos stoplight, continue past Tropical Smoothie High and Juicy Juice playground, you will finally arrive at your house greeted by your adoring children, Macintosh and IBM.

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