A Nation on Sale

Last week was Super Bowl Week and I couldn’t help but notice that one evening there was a show that was touted as “The Best of Super Bowl Ads.” Excuse me. This wasn’t the Home Shopping Network. This was one of the Big Three major networks. They were airing a full hour that was dedicated to nothing but advertisements…., and this was supposed to be entertainment. How did we come to this, that our entertainment is something that has the purpose of selling us a product?

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the advertisements are more creative than the actual programs that are supposed to be entertainment. Sad, but true. However, that is just a statement on the lack of creativity that goes into TV programming than a statement hailing babies selling stocks online as the best thing since Bill Shakespeare. Have we really become so inured to the constant marketing in America that the marketing itself has become a part of the spectacle that is TV? Oh Jesus! What a sorry state.

I’m reminded of a roommate I had once in my early twenties. He owned a sorry little black and white TV and every evening after work he would turn it on to the Evening News. There were no remotes in those days so one had to physically turn the sound down or up. Well this guy would make a point of turning the sound down when the news came on and up again when the advertisements came on. I was appalled. I should have taken it as a warning of things to come.

Once upon a time people bought clothing that did not sport a huge logo, ANNOUNCING TO THE WORLD what brand of clothing they wore. I was once again appalled when many people chose to wear clothing that I saw as a walking advertisement. Hey I bought their stupid clothes. Why should I have to also serve as their billboard? Today it is virtually impossible to escape the big Nike swoosh, the ever larger Polo dude, the ubiquitous alligator of IZOD, and oh so many more ads in the form of clothing that you paid good money for. Want me to advertise your clothing? How about you pay me, instead of me paying you for the right to hawk your wares? For that matter, did it ever occur to the car dealership that I really don’t want their name plastered all over the rear end of something I paid that much for?

Land of the free? Home of the brave? How about Land of the Free Market and Home of the Brave Independent Entrepreneurs? Marketing took another big step forward when athletic fields began selling naming rights. Of course those dudes in Houston were a bit embarrassed at the name of their field and held a new naming auction after the Enron scandal. I probably shouldn’t be surprised at this turn of events though. The Chicago Cubs have inhabited Wrigley Field (Make you want to chew some gum? Hmmmm?) since the 1920’s. Only a small step forward until we have a Coca Cola Congress and a Pepsi Presidency.

What the heck. Sell the naming rights to the schools. Maybe that’ll pay those exorbitant salaries and pensions the teachers are pulling down at taxpayer expense. And it’ll teach the kids about what really makes this nation tick while we’re at it. Put advertisements on the police cruisers and fire trucks. The possibilities are endless. Now if only I could find someone to sponsor my condo. I write from here. The ______________ Views from the 14th Floor. This blog and this condo could be sporting the name of your business for a very reasonable price. Welcome to America. It’s all for sale. Make us an offer. Meanwhile, the Home Shopping Network beckons. I hear they have some very entertaining sales pitches for jewelry for my wife for Valentine’s Day.

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