Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Selling the Absurd, part 1 of Infinity

Advertising is on the march. Yes, if there is one thing that is on the march, it is advertising -- far out-pacing anything else that might be on the march. From the subway to the bus shelter to the elevator to your mailbox to your e-mail box to your Google search results to your blogs to my blog, there it is, another opportunity to sell. So no wonder we've run out of ideas, of how to sell, of what to sell, and advertising has, once again, embraced the absurd.

Unfortunately, I can't vouch for the artfulness of this go round with the absurd. I just wanted to mention two recent offenders that have caught my attention.

If you ride the subway in New York City, you cannot avoid Windorphins. Brightly colored signage adorning the insides of cars, in bus shelters, on billboards - showing happy-looking Pokemon-like characters and bearing slogans that mean absolutely nothing. Nauseating? Yes. Cynical? Absolutely. Effective? Totally. I don't know how many subway cars I've been in when some young New Yorker asks, in that ever-flattening accent that young New Yorkers are increasingly seeming to have, "What Are Windorphins?" to which his/her friend might respond "I think we learned about it in class," and a third says, "Let's look it up on the Internet when we get to so-and-so's apartment." So, winner for Ebay. And, of course, I did come home one night to look up exactly what it is. So cheers to whatever ad agency fucker came up with this annoying campaign.

Next, the more charming and less invasive What is woot? A website, that apparently sells only one product a day that popped up in the modest banner above my Gmails one day. Reluctantly, but unfailingly, I clicked on it. And, apparently, selling one product a day is an effective way of doing business. Per Woot's own site: is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it's taken on a life of its own. We anticipate profitability by 2043 – by then we should be retired; someone smarter might take over and jack up the prices. Until then, we're still the lovable scamps we've always been. But don't take our word for it: see what the online community has to say at this Wikipedia article.
So, I guess the engine of innovation chugs on, fueled increasingly by banner ads and billboards. To badly appropriate a morbid Townes Van Zandt track, well, I guess its better than waitin' around to die...

No comments: